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Pac-Man ain't got nothin' on this game!

  • Oblic
  • 02/20/2012 10:27 PM
  • 1393 views
I never was a huge fan of the old-school Pac-Man games. Although they could keep you occupied for a few minutes while you waited for your laundry to finish, they were really lacking in substance. Your goal never really changed from level to level. All you were doing was waiting for your hand (or thumb if you played it on a phone) to get tired enough for you to get caught by one of those pesky ghosts. Not only that, there wasn’t much to look at, and the incessant “wakka-wakka-wakka…” of that little yellow blob eating all of those pellets was annoying as hell. Bottom line, not one of my favorite games.

Needless to say, I was a bit skeptical when I saw the term “Pac-Man clone” in the game’s description. But, I thought I’d give it a shot. The screen-shots looked promising, and I figured I could use a change of pace.

Calling this game a “clone” of any kind does not do it justice. There is a semblance of Pac-Man, but it seems to me that it was a very mild inspiration if anything. This game has a lot to offer; much more than any limbless yellow pie-man ever could.

Story:

Although this game is mostly driven by its enthralling gameplay, there is a semblance of a story injected into mix. It doesn’t add a whole lot to the overall experience. It’s mostly there to explain why you are even bothering with the collection of crystals (replaces the pellets) in the first place. In the long run, the story isn’t needed in order to have fun.

Music/Sound:

As I mentioned earlier, collecting all those pellets in Pac-Man, can become very irritating to the ears. This was remedied pretty simply by making the sound of collecting the crystals both quieter and more pleasant (I think it’s the sound used in Super Mario World when a coin is collected). Most other sounds are either borrowed from other sources or RTP. Everything meshes together really well, making the gameplay smoother.

The music is very well put together. Most of it is taken from Super Metroid, but it fits the whole space theme rather well, so I don’t fault the maker. Most of these tracks are revamped, making them a bit more energetic to fit the feeling of urgency of high speed gameplay. Overall, the music was very enjoyable. I never once thought about turning of the sound due to repetitive midi music. Since you rarely change the music, this is a much bigger deal than you would imagine.

Graphics:

There are quite a few custom sprites, most of which were used to make the chocobo characters and their animations. Many of the monsters were also custom, or at least sprites from various SNES titles.

One thing that I really liked was the extreme diversity of each map. A lot of the tile sets were again taken from Super Metroid (or at least modeled after them), making for some fantastic environments. Everything about them is bright and colorful, but at the same time sound and appropriate; eye catching, but not offensive.

A minor detail that some might take for granted are the little animations here and there (i.e. the little sparkle when you complete a level) that make everything more pleasing. It may be due to my mild magpie-like appeal of shiny things, but I really enjoy all the “shiny” objects and styles that were put into this game. This is a HUGE improvement over a game that uses dots rather than big glowing crystals. There are also various parts of the map that move around, giving the impression that the environment is more real and alive.

Without exaggeration, this is one of the best looking games I’ve played that uses the RM2k/2k3 engine. Nothing is spared in making this game shine!

Gameplay:

Since this is a game that has little in the way of a story, much of its merit hinges on how well it plays. Again, the basic premise is that of Pac-Man: collect X objects, avoid baddies, collect power-up that temporarily lets you kill enemies, move on to next level. But this game offers so much more than that if you are willing to explore it.

First of all, the levels are MASSIVE compared to the original Pac-Man, none of which are a single screen. Most of them allow the player to choose their own path in which to complete the level. Also, each level has 3 different “tracks” each one designated to a different difficulty. In order to progress through the game, you first need to beat a level on easy (the yellow chocobo). These levels usually provide few to no extra lives (you start each level with one life) and the fewest crystals to collect. The enemies are easy to avoid and, with practice, newer easy levels can be beaten on the first try. There are also no collectables (there may be one or two exceptions) on the easy levels.

Once the easy difficulty is completed, you can either move on to the next level on easy, or continue onto the medium difficulty of the current level. Medium levels open the green track, and are usually a bit tougher. They usually have at least one extra life, which is rarely needed. Now, here is one of my favorite features (though I’m a collect-a-thon mutant): each medium level has a green power sphere that goes toward unlocking a bonus level. Once you have all of them, the 11th level is unlocked.

After the medium difficulty is completed, the hard version of that level is opened. These levels can really be a pain in the ass, but with perseverance, they can be completed. Similarly, these levels have a red power sphere that can be collected to open the 12th level.

There are also “special” levels that are unlocked after searched far and wide for the special pick-ups that unlock them. I finished MOST of the main game, and only found two of them. They may be hidden in areas at the very end, but I won’t ruin that little bit… The two special levels that I found were: 1. An abandoned level used in one of the older versions and 2. An Atari look alike of the old-school Pac-Man. In time, I hope to find the rest of these special levels; they’re by no means easy to find. Some really require you to be aware of your surroundings while some are hidden in plain sight! Also keep your eyes peeled for something that might be interactive. It may open a path that you wouldn’t otherwise see. This also goes for the power spheres mentioned earlier.

Although each level is space themed, they all have their own differences that make them unique. I like that some levels are displayed in a 2D platformer way (like Metroid) and others have the pseudo isometric view (classic Zelda), both offering different strategies for collecting the crystals and avoiding enemies. The 2D platformer levels are usually much more akin to the original game, providing the same challenges like not getting cornered and using your power coins (replaces the power pills) wisely. The isometric levels are a bit more open. This is usually compensated by providing more or faster enemies or possibly more crystals. Either way, the goal is the same.

There are also many environmental hazards and blockades that make traversing some levels a bit tricky. There are floor spikes, movable blocks, movable platforms (elevators), disappearing floors, and more. You must always be mindful of where you are going, otherwise you may be restarting a nearly completed level!


Oh crap....


I also want to mention how well the game controls. For the most part, you handle your chocobo much like Pac-Man. Yet, there are key differences that seem to make gameplay smoother. First of all, you can stop. It always annoyed me that that miserable yellow pie had to keep moving! This caused me to careen into those damn ghosts time and again. Things would have been much simpler if I was just given some brakes now and then! But, Chocobo Panic allows you to completely stop and think about what you need to do next. This is especially helpful in high traffic areas. Being able to stop is a godsend that can be easily overlooked. APPRCIATE IT! Another point to bring up is your speed; you are always at least as fast as your enemies. This means that you are never at a disadvantage. If I recall correctly, the ghosts in Pac-Man got faster each time you ate them, adding a level of difficulty to the game that I always saw as unnecessary.

Although, I should note that after using a power coin, the respawn points are very deadly. Unlike in Pac-Man where the ghosts come out after a given time after they were eaten, the enemies here immediately pop out once your power coin wears off. This can be scary when you just so happen to run out of time while you are near one of these respawn points. As long as you watch your remaining time, you should be fine.

Phew this is getting long winded… Last paragraph here, I promise. I really liked the finer details that make the game more reasonable. The most notable are the HUD that show you how many lives you have, your remaining power coin time, and most importantly, your remaining crystals. These can make the game INFINITELY more tolerable. I can’t imagine trying to finish a level where I missed only one crystal, but I have no idea how many are left! Pac-Man never really had a need for this, considering the small levels, but, like I said earlier, Chocobo Panic’s levels are huge. If these little HUD objects bug you, you can always turn them off!

The Scraps:

-If you need more practice, you can always replay old levels. You can also always go back to find those collectables if you can’t find them your first time around.

-This is a really small detail, but the game keeps track of your progress in terms of a percentage! I’m not sure why, but I like this little feature.

-There may have been a few passability issues, but they may have been intentional. Either way, they didn’t really affect anything.

-The level select screen is awesome! You get a view of where you are in the “solar system”, a peek at the level, and a grid of what levels are done, locked, and available to play!

-All of you that read my other two reviews (yes, all 5 of you…) know what’s coming next: grammar. There are quite a few spelling and grammatical errors in this game. But, there are two reasons why I can overlook them. First of all, I am pretty sure English is not the maker’s first language (I may be wrong about this, sorry in advance). Second, and more importantly, it doesn’t really affect the experience. Grammar issues really only bug me when the story plays a significant role, which it obviously does not here. Since the points that need to get across are done so clearly, I have no gripes (other than annoyance, haha) this time around.

-The little voiceover of the level name whenever you start a level adds a nice little touch.

-It is important to note that not all moving objects are killable when under the influence of the power coin. If they don’t fade, they can still make your life miserable. I only wish I knew this sooner.

Overall:

I would recommend this game to almost anyone. Again, I was skeptical at first, I am glad I sat down and gave it a chance. It may be different from the epic story driven games that this site usually provides, yet it still immerses you in a fun game world that is difficult to leave. If anything, it’s a great way to pass the time waiting for a bigger release! Seriously though, this game is a good time.

Scoring… this one is a bit more difficult to score than the others I have reviewed. This is a great game, but for a different reason. In all areas, it has very, VERY few flaws, but at the same time it doesn’t provide the deeper immersion that a longer, more story driven game can provide. Also, I don’t feel like there is large amount of replay value. Granted, this is more of my opinion than objective observation. So, I feel like I am stuck between a 3.5 (the absolute lowest end, with all my opinions and little nitpicks attached) and a 4.5 (taking a step back to score this game as it is). So I figure…

4/5 (plus a bit more) makes the most sense. Definitely give this one a try. If you don’t like it, you will at least know pretty quickly and won’t invest too much time finding out.


By the way, this is the third game in a series of three games. I found the other two (after lots of Google searching) and played them as well, both of which I would gladly review if the maker posted them. They get progressively better as the series goes on, but they are all fun in their own way. If I find the time to do so again, I will post links to the other two!

Posts

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In-depth reviews are always enjoyable - I'm sure the developer will appreciate the time and effort.

One nitpick I've been mentioning on various reviews: your images don't necessarily have to be that big. Smaller, centered images are usually more aesthetically pleasing.
Thank you for this kind review.
And you are right, my first language is not english, I am german. So I'm sorry for the grammar or spelling mistakes.
Looking back I think it would have been good to have at least one english betatester. Now that I know RMN, this should not be a problem in future releases.

As for the prequels:
I didn't think they would be of any interest,as they are very old. The first chocobo panic was released in 2002 and was developed in 2 weeks only. And the Christmas Edition was released 2005 if I remember right ( have to look).

I'll have to dig my old harddrives to find a copy of the prequels and will post them here on RMN soon.
Oblic
Once a member of RMN, always a member of RMN!
1752
author=Deckiller
One nitpick I've been mentioning on various reviews: your images don't necessarily have to be that big. Smaller, centered images are usually more aesthetically pleasing.


Yea sorry about that... I wanted to ask about centering images, but I wanted to get this review up. How do you center an image anyway?

Thanks for the kind words, btw!

author=koaangel
Thank you for this kind review.
And you are right, my first language is not english, I am german. So I'm sorry for the grammar or spelling mistakes.
Looking back I think it would have been good to have at least one english betatester. Now that I know RMN, this should not be a problem in future releases.

As for the prequels:
I didn't think they would be of any interest,as they are very old. The first chocobo panic was released in 2002 and was developed in 2 weeks only. And the Christmas Edition was released 2005 if I remember right ( have to look).

I'll have to dig my old harddrives to find a copy of the prequels and will post them here on RMN soon.


To be honest, considering English isn't your first language, your grammar is actually better than many native English speakers, haha! And I mean that seriously.

I have the other two games and could send them to you if you would like. All I would have to do is compress them. Let me know.
Thanks, I found my old RPGMaker project folder and will post the games within the next days.
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