Pac-Land (パックランド Pakku-Rando) is an arcade game released by Namco in 1984. It is the first platformer in the Pac-Man series.
Pac-Land is a side-scrolling platformer, where the objective is to get from one side of the screen to the other. The player controls Pac-Man, who must travel through Pac-Land to return a Fairy (who is underneath Pac-Man's hat) to Fairyland.
Each trip has four rounds - the first three to get to Fairyland, and the fourth to head back. Starting at his house, Pac-Man will travel through towns, forests, mountains and more as he delivers the lost fairy back to its mother. Generally these are fairly straightforward paths, going from left to right (right to left on each fourth round), aside from the many obstacles in Pac-Man's way.
Every time one of the first three stages is completed, a sign labeled "BREAK TIME" will appear; Pac-Man can jump in these segments in-time to the music, and he will get a certain number of points depending on his jump's distance from the ground.
Once Pac-Man reaches Fairyland in the fourth stage, he is greeted by the Mother Fairy, who gives him magical boots that allow him to fly. He travels back home, to which he is greeted by Ms. Pac-Man, Baby Pac-Man, Chomp-Chomp and Sour Puss. Directly after this, the next set of rounds start, and the process repeats until all lives are lost.
Enemies and Obstacles
Along the way on his journey, the Ghost Gang do their best to stop Pac-Man. Blinky, Inky, Pinky, and Clyde now ride in different machines in attempt to ambush Pac-Man, including cars, buses, UFOs, and planes. Plane ghosts are particularly dangerous, as they throw micro-ghosts down at Pac-Man which are hard to avoid. Ghosts can appear in building windows as well, serving the same function as plane ghosts.
Sue also appears, but she just chases Pac-Man from behind if he is walking in the opposite direction - that is, unless the timer runs out, in which case Sue goes super fast and will kill Pac-Man in one hit. As with previous games, she can be eaten if Pac-Man eats a Power Pellet.
Pac-Man will encounter many non-Ghost obstacles as well, including:
- Fire Hydrants, Tree Stumps, Cacti - All serve the same purposes. Easily jumped over, and some can provide power-ups when pushed. In later levels, fire hydrants may shoot water at Pac-Man, which propels him forward.
- Log Platforms - Platforms that go up and down. Must be jumped on carefully to avoid falling in a pit.
- Log Bridges - Platforms that fall down when Pac-Man walks on them. The player must go very quickly or else he will fall.
- Clouds - Very tiny platforms that are easy to fall off of.
- Antlion - Skulls that indicate where quicksand is located, which Pac-Man will sink into if he stands for too long.
- Ponds - One of the most challenging parts of the game. Pac-Man jumps on a spring-loaded diving board directly in front of a pond, and must keep pressing the button quickly to pass over the entire body of water. If the button is not pressed enough times, or the player jumped too early/too late, Pac-Man will drown.
Later in the game, two entirely different kinds of levels appear - Sunken Ships and Castles - which are loaded with obstacles of their own. Sunken ships require the player to make precision-perfect jumps over thin planks; to make some jumps, Pac-Man will need to collect ship symbols, which make the planks longer. Castle levels feature three paths, and many locked doors, which require keys to be opened. If Pac-Man takes too long, Sue will run out and attack him. Some of these levels are in complete darkness as well, making them even harder.
Many items appear throughout the game, which include:
- Power Pellet - Allows Pac-Man to eat the ghosts.
- Helmet - Can be used to dodge micro-ghosts.
- Lucky Pac - The player will receive a time bonus.
- Special Pac - Pac-Man gets an extra life.
- Ship - Extends the length of the planks in the Sunken Ship levels.
- Key - Required to open doors in the Castle levels.
- Galaxian - Awards 7650 points.
- Balloons - A bunch of balloons pop out, which can be collected for bonus points.
- Flower - A mysterious power-up that seems to have no function whatsoever. It only appears on level 1.
Fruits also make a return, which appear throughout the stage(s). As more are collected, their point value increases (until four have been eaten, in which it resets the same pattern). These are the fruits that appear, next to their sequential point value:
- Cherry - 100, 300, 500, 1000 points
- Strawberry - 300, 500, 1000, 1500 points
- Orange - 500, 1000, 1500, 2000 points
- Apple - 1000, 1500, 2000, 2500 points
- Melon - 1500, 2000, 2500, 3000 points
TV Series connections
Pac-Land was heavily inspired by the Pac-Man TV series, with many references to it. The most obvious connection is the music, which is an 8-bit rendition of the cartoon's theme song. Some of the game's other tracks, like the one that plays in the Castle levels, is background music lifted the show as well. Pac-Man and the ghosts also dawn hats like their Hanna-Barbera counterparts.
In the Bally Midway U.S. release, even more visual connections were added that directly reference the TV series - all of the Pac-Men have white circles around their eyes, Pac-Man's hat looked more like a fedora, Ms. Pac-Man was given brown hair, Baby Pac-Man's bow was colored blue, and Chomp-Chomp and Sour Puss were added to the ending screen, both of whom are completely absent in the Japanese version.
- There are two versions: a properly released port from Grandstand, and a unique prototype port of unknown origin.
- In the Grandstand release, the "rounds" are split up in a strange way; reaching Fairyland counts as one round in the counter, while the trips back to Pac-Man's house are split into two separate sections.
- The prototype version, while dumped, is in an unfinished state - though it is arguably a more faithful port gameplay-wise than the Grandstand release. It has rather unique graphics compared to other Pac-Land ports.
- Amstrad CPC
- Arcade1UP Machines
- Many Arcade1UPs featuring Pac-Land have been released (see this page for full list). The game has only been included as an extra on other Pac-Man cabinets, with no directly Pac-Land-themed machine released so far.
- All Arcade1UP models featuring Pac-Land use the Bally Midway version of the game, making them the only home releases based on that version.
- Atari Lynx
- Atari ST
- Commodore 64
- A very obscure device, released exclusively in Italy. It is a translation machine with a gaming portion on the side.
- The Pac-Land cartridge/screen was only distributed through a rewards program from Mulino Bianco, a brand of Italian cookies. In retail stores, the console came with a generic 8-in-1 "Brick Game" cartridge instead.
- It plays similarly to the handheld LCD game version, with the exact same graphics. However, it is still not identical (a notable difference being it scrolls from left-to-right, rather than right-to-left).
- It is backwards-compatible with the proceeding Agenda-Game system.
- Handheld LCD Game
- A proprietary console in a similar form factor to a Game & Watch. It was released in several countries, but seemingly not anywhere in North America.
- The game itself is a fairly loose adaption - somewhat a clone of the Super Mario Bros. Game & Watch - and does not have many of the arcade game's features. The objective is to walk across platforms, going from right to left, in order to reach Ms. Pac-Man.
- iOS (iPhone, iPad, etc.) - now defunct
- It was included in the Namco Arcade compilation app.
- Several "cheats" for the game could be purchased, such as invincibility and permanent flight abilities.
- Nintendo Switch
- The Famicom version of the game is included in Namco Museum Archives Vol. 2. In Japan, it was released as DLC for Namcot Collection.
- PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16
- Included in Namco Museum Vol. 4.
- PlayStation 3
- Two versions were released. The game was included in Pac-Man Museum, and was featured in the PS one Classics release of Namco Museum Vol. 4.
- PlayStation Portable
- Featured in the PS one Classics release of Namco Museum Vol. 4.
- PlayStation Vita
- Featured in the PS one Classics release of Namco Museum Vol. 4.
- Project EGG
- A Japan-only subscription service compatible with Windows. Based on the PC-Engine version.
- Sharp X68000
- A special edition (?) release of this version came with a special three-button controller matching the layout of the arcade machine.
- Wii U
- The Famicom version was released through the Virtual Console.
- Windows PC
- Included in Pac-Man Museum.
- Xbox 360
- Included in Pac-Man Museum.
A release of Pac-Land was planned for the Atari 8-bit computer series (400, 800, XL and XE), but never got passed conceptual stages. A prototype was built, but it only featured minimal coding with mock-up screenshots.
The PC Engine/TurboGrafx-16 port features a special, more challenging game mode called Pac-Land Pro. It is unlocked by beating the game and viewing the ending. Alternatively, it can be started via the cheat code below:
- Enter the Options menu by holding down I and II while pressing Start;
- Enable the "SKIP" option;
- Press Start at the title screen, then press Up ten times.
Console releases of Pac-Land are less common than the other (Namco-owned) Pac-Man games, which is speculated to be due to Hanna-Barbera (now technically Warner Bros.) owning the music tracks.
- Several regional revisions of the game, including the United States release, run considerably faster than the Japanese original. All home ports of the game still played at the Japanese version's speed.
- The exact opposite happened when localizing Super Pac-Man, in which the overseas versions ran slower after eating a Super Pellet.
- A stage based on Pac-Land appears in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. However, it doesn't feature a track based on the original background music possibly due to Warner Bros. Animation holding the rights to the songs.
- Pac-Man Monsters features an event quest based off of Pac-Land, known as "Welcome to Pac-Land". The quest takes place in the game's first area, Pac-Town, which is based off of the town area from Pac-Land. The Ghost Gang are encountered as enemies, driving in vehicles like in the original game. The final boss of the quest, King of Ant Lion, is based off the skulls encountered in the desert areas.
- Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Mario, has stated that Pac-Land was an inspiration for the original Super Mario Bros. However, Miyamoto claims that the main source of inspiration was merely the color of the sky being blue. Most prior games had only used black backgrounds, and Pac-Land's detailed colors were incorporated into Mario's world. Miyamoto adds that he had already formed a concept for a side-scrolling Mario game much earlier than Pac-Land's release, but was intentionally saving it for when tough competition against Donkey Kong arrived - which Pac-Land, in Miyamoto's eyes, was the first of.
- In the instruction manuals of several Pac-Land releases, Ms. Pac-Man is referred to as "Pac-Girl" for unknown reasons.
Machine and Box Art
- "Super Hit Game Science" (スーパーヒットゲーム学) interview, 1998; http://hamatsu.hatenablog.com/entry/2015/11/30/113438
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