Ah, to start getting old and having your beloved classic games wind up on a compilation unit...
Yep, as the title of it says -- Retro Arcade Featuring Pac-Man -- it’s one of those “plug and play” units, with 12 arcade classics. This is something I never thought I’d buy one of, due to some reviews of previous units...until I heard about the line-up, that is, then I was drooling for it.
But then upon looking up some reviews for some of Jakks Pacific’s past stuff and saw they weren’t too bad after all, I picked this one up. So how does it fare?
Well, as for the unit itself, it has two buttons and a joystick, and the menu/pause button is a recreation of the familiar old .25 coin slot and glows red when you turn on the unit! The a/v cord could be a few inches longer though (some of the plugs for tvs are in the back you know!) and it'd cut down on wear if several of the games had the fire option where you just hold down the fire button and that works, rather than rapidly mashing it to death. It's also too early to tell how long the joystick and the four AA batteries will last either, as I hope the unit doesn't suck them up like these games did quarters (or tokens) did back in the 80s, but I’ll update this review in the months to come to state how well it performed.
So, onto the games!
--well there's not much to say here: you eat dots, avoid monsters, eat energizers so you can eat the monsters for a short time, munch on a bonus prize underneath the monster pen if you can, etc. No point in going over this any further now, is it?
Pac-Man Plus--this is when Pac things started getting weird, as the bonuses became a can of what appears to be Coke, other drinks, a loaf of bread, etc. And eating them acts like energizers, but the monsters become invisible! And at times one monster won't change blue after eating an energizer, along with sometimes the maze turns invisible too! This was a nice step up once people started getting tired of Pac-Man, since that was still popular in the arcade as well at the time, plus it’s a bit faster paced.
Super Pac-Man--this changed the Pac formula a bit, as you had to eat keys to unlock parts of the maze before getting to the food (no dots to eat here), and the Super energizers allow you to go through the monsters and move at super speed once you press the A button, along with there being bonus rounds too.
Pac and Pal--AGAIN changing the Pac formula, like Super Pac-Man, you must unlock areas of the maze to eat food, but your so-called “pal” (yeah, sure!) can steal the items if you let him. And for once you never eat the monsters; however, there are special items that allow you to stun them instead, which is just as fun. Take that, I’m tired of eating and regurgitating you anyway!
Mappy--an odd platformer. Your mouse must navigate through a museum by jumping on trampolines and avoiding cats while picking up objects. A really odd idea, I never realized how strange this game was until just now, really.
Galaxian--this stepped up the Space Invaders genre to new heights, as the aliens were in color this time around (gasp! Hard to believe those old black and white days, eh?) and they dive-bombed you as well.
Galaga--and stepping up the genre AGAIN, the aliens fly into formation, and allowing a reserve ship to be captured by a tractor beam fired by the aliens’ flagship and then shooting down it's captor will enable you double firepower. Many have said this was the best bottom of the screen shooter ever.
Dig Dug--why no one bitched about it's violence as you literally pumped up creatures until they exploded (although I guess it was because there was no blood) or you smushed them to death with rocks was beyond me. But it was still a huge hit!
Bosconian--you control a spaceship that must destroy enemy starbases by either blowing up all their pods or sending a shot right up their middle while shooting or avoiding other ships, mines and other space junk.
Pole Position--speed through a track and dodge cars without running out of time, which will end your race (luckily no flat tires here will do that).
Xevious--redefining the scrolling shooter back then, you fire on targets on land and in the air, and it's graphics were fairly incredible back in the day. Plus what other games have these eight balls that shoot at you?
New Rally-X--in the original, you had to drive over a bunch of flags scattered around a scrolling playfield while avoiding enemy cars and not colliding with rocks as well. In this update, a lucky flag also gives you a bonus for any fuel remaining.
Now, aside from one tiny glitch on Super Pac-Man, that, along with Pac-Man, Pac-Man Plus, Pole Position, Mappy and Galaga are all perfect replicas (or close to it) of their arcade counterparts, although I think a sound or two on some of those games are off, but maybe not; if so, it’s not a big deal (I think the acceleration sound on P. Position is way off, but I didn’t play it a lot in the arcades though, so I’m not sure). However, with Dig-Dug, it makes no sense in having the screen being so big you have to scroll up or down a little when you play. This wouldn't be a big deal, except for when you're low on the screen, think you're done with a level, but the music continues, which you didn't realize a creature was at the top of the screen and chances are pretty good it's going to get away before you can get up there to blow it up into oblivion. It plays the exact same as the original other than that though (this problem also happens with Rally-X, where the map’s a tiny bit too big and you’re missing a flag, which turns out to be at the bottom of the screen, and you're at the top...).
However, things get worse with Galaxian, as for some reason the purple aliens (fourth row) don't fly in their wide arc like in the arcade, and worse yet, at times the flagships won't even come down during an entire wave. What IS this crap? I don't understand why this was changed.
Also, having a four directional joystick means you can't move diagonally. That's a bit wrong as far as Bosconian goes, but it doesn't detract from the game much actually, as I’ve still been able to get scores of 170,000 on it. However, for Xevious it damn well does though; having to move down and left or up and right to dodge enemy fire (or just to shoot enemies) takes too long and you'll lose a lot more ships that way, as I couldn't even get to the mother ship the few times I’ve played it, which is ridiculous (plus again the sounds are off). THIS is the way to treat a scrolling shooter that redefined the genre? Was this even playtested?
I can’t speak for the New Rally-X though as to how accurate it is, since I had either never played it before until I got it on MAME or it was on a compilation arcade game (with original and new versions of Dig Dug, that and Pac-Man) and I don't recall if it's the same game or not, all I know is that the enemy cars start out fewer and tend to bunch up more on this version. It's still a bit of fun though. And Pac and Pal I had never heard of it until just a few years ago, so I can’t speak for it’s accuracy, but I love it though! Nice to play a “new” game for the first time that’s over 20 years old.
So, luckily not much was screwed up on here to make a difference, just Xevious being nearly ruined (the Atari 7800 version is way better!), the stupid change on Galaxian, and NONE of these games have a two player option, yet every one of them originally did, I do believe (except for Pole Position). The joystick doesn’t respond that great for the maze games (however, even though the joystick twisting left and right will never in a million years beat the original steering wheel controller for Pole Position, it actually works well, believe it or not) and you might have a problem fumbling around for the pause button in case the phone or the doorbell sounds off (for people wanting to invite themselves over to play this unit), causing you to possibly lose a life, but this is a decent compilation in all.
I’d say this is definitely worth the $18 that I got this for, although with many of these games being compiled to death, you can probably find better versions of them for all kinds of consoles and all (Xevious, obviously). But for me, I’m happy, especially since, again, I never thought I’d ever buy one of these units in the first place.
So, excuse me while I go chase my supposed Pac pal. Put down that apple NOW, mister! 8/10