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(Anonymous) (Game Gear review) 27th Mar 2012 09:22
"The definitive handheld version was available back in 1995?!"
Ms. Pac-man has been around for quite a while now, in arcades since the early 80's and in homes on early consoles shortly thereafter. Unfortunately, handheld gamers had to wait a few years to play it. It's an excellent game. Perhaps you've even heard of it? While it began as a simple add-on expansion by a group of college kids to the original and phenomenally successful Pac-man arcade game, Ms. Pac-man was soon purchased outright by parent company Namco and made into the official pellet-munching sequel.
Ms. Pac-man finally made it to the handheld market in 1993 as a black and white cartridge for the original Game Boy, but two years later, the definitive version was released for the technologically superior Game Gear. If you're a fan of the arcade game and a handheld aficionado, this is the version you've been looking for. As we'll discuss momentarily, even later color updates for both the Game Boy Color and Game Boy Advance systems don't quite match up to the Sega version from 1995.
Ms. Pac-man for Sega Game Gear is exactly the same game you've played at the arcade or on any number of console or handheld systems. You're Ms. Pac-man, the speedy spouse to the aforementioned Pac-man, and your duty is to race around four basic maze patterns eating yellow dots and floating fruit icons for points while avoiding four pesky ghosts. You get four ''power pellets'' per screen that you can munch to temporarily make those rascally ghosts edible for additional points. The ghosts are slightly more aggressive about hunting you down than in the original Pac-man, but you also get a variety of screens to play through and moving fruit targets to shoot for. The Game Gear version offers head-to-head action if you've got a link cable. One of you is Pac-man, and the other is Ms. Pac-man. The Game Gear's hard, circular-shaped direction pad can be difficult to use at first, but once you get familiar with it, it's not much of an issue. Despite its simplicity, Ms. Pac-man was a lot of fun to play.
The only downside is that you don't get any extras on the Game Gear. Later releases of Ms. Pac-man for GBC and GBA saw additional games added to the cart. The GBC version included Super Pac-man, and the GBA's Namco Museum further upped the ante by including Dig Dug, Galaga, Galaxian, and Pole Position. Still, if the one game you're really interested in playing is Ms. Pac-man, the Game Gear still offer the version to own.
Ms. Pac-man is commonly referred to as a puzzle game, so it doesn't have much of a plot to it. You do get to see small cut-scenes every few levels where Pac-man and the future Mrs. Pac-man meet, get together and eventually reproduce. Basically, Ms. Pac-man bridges the original Pac-man with the later Pac-man Junior and other variations. It's not much, but back in the early days of gaming, this could be considered epic storytelling. If nothing else, it's simple wholesome family entertainment.
Graphics are where the Game Gear version really shines. Arcade games were simple back in 1981 when Ms. Pac-man first came out, so the newer hardware of the Game Gear has not trouble faithfully recreating this experience. Like all the handheld versions, the Game Gear features two views: full screen and scrolling half-screen. The Game Gear's scrolling half-screen view has the same high quality detail as the later GBA version (much improved over the GB and GBC's blocky graphics), but the full screen view is what makes the Game Gear rendition really stand out. The full screen view actually makes use of the entire Game Gear screen, giving you a much better view of the action going on and showing much more detail than even the latest GBA edition. The GB and GBC editions are almost a joke by comparison. The sound is typical Ms. Pac-man.
Play Time/Replayability: 10
Most puzzle games have endless replay value, and Ms. Pac-man is no different. Although simple to pick up, Ms. Pac-man can be difficult to master, and that may be why it's still quite popular on so many platforms over twenty years after its original arcade release.
Buy or Rent: Definitely Buy
Ms. Pac-man is a game worth owning even in its less flattering renditions (Atari 2600, GB, etc.), so picking it up for Game Gear (the very best handheld version, imo) should be a given. Since Game Gear never enjoyed the popularity of Nintendo's Game Boy, most Game Gear titles can be found pretty inexpensively, usually $5 or less. Please don't hesitate to give her a lift if you happen to see Ms. Pac-man on the street some day. She's a lot of fun to have around, especially on Game Gear.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10, Originally Posted: 02/14/03, Updated 02/14/03
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This title was first added on 11th March 2007
This title was most recently updated on 27th March 2012