Ms. Pac-Man (Nintendo Game Boy)

Even when miniaturized on a Game Boy screen, Ms. Pac-Man still delivers the goods. If you a Pac-Man fan, it’s a great game to take wherever you go, just in case you have a few idle minutes you need to fill with some video game goodness.

Though the Pac-Man series of games fell from grace as the ’80s progressed, as newer and more complicated games were released for more sophisticated hardware, that did not prevent the games from being ported. Gamers like me scoffed at the various Pac-Man games arriving on the later 8-bit and 16-bit systems. If I could choose between Mario and Pac-Man, why would I choose the latter? Pac-Man was passé.

I probably maintained this view throughout much of my youth. I didn’t have the time nor the money to waste on such simple, outdated games. Pac-Man was for guys who were still programming in BASIC on their Apple IIes while Monty Python played in the background on their Betamaxes. Pac-Man had no place in my late ’80s/early ’90s game world. This is why when I had a Game Boy, I owned games like Castlevania and Mega Man. Those were the hot games—not some monotonous little maze game.

If you’re at all like me, you want to travel back in time about 20 years and smack this smarmy kid. Or at least show him the error of his ways. Because, even though I did play all the way through The Castlevania Adventure, and I probably thought it was great at the time, I should have been open to playing a game like Ms. Pac-Man, which was perfect for handheld gaming. It’s a game that can be picked up and played for 10, 15, or 20 minutes while on a road trip (or while goofing off in art class). It doesn’t require a time investment, and is there for a little quick fun whenever needed.

Ms. Pac-Man on the Game Boy is a good port of the game. It doesn’t play too quickly (seems downright slow after playing Jr. Pac-Man), but given the small size of the Game Boy screen, that may be a good thing. The game features scrolling mazes and detailed characters. A cool bonus is that in a two-player game, the second player gets to control Pac-Man. I don’t know if any other versions are set up that way, but I thought it was a nice touch. At the end of the game, once both players have exhausted their extra lives, Ms. Pac-Man and Pac-Man are shown coming together, kissing, and then the one who scored the most points gets to do a kind of victory dance (as much of a victory dance as can be done sans arms or legs). That made me laugh. Aww, good game. I love you. In your face, loser! 🙂

The one area in which this game suffered was sound. During play, I thought the sound was fine. It didn’t seem quite right, but I loved that it had the constant Pac-Man sound (if you’ve been around the coin-op, you should know what I’m talking about) that the Atari games lacked. It took me back to the days of arcades and just hearing the different games, each of them beckoning me—your quarters, give us your quarters . . . . The sounds during the intermission (I use the singular here, as I only made it to one—I don’t know if the others are included or not) seemed very off, and the bonk sound the ghosts make when running into one another was missing. I will confess that I played this on my GameCube using the Game Boy Player, and I’m not sure if that might affect the sound at all, but I doubt that it would, as the games are not played via emulation.

Even when miniaturized on a Game Boy screen, Ms. Pac-Man still delivers the goods. If you a Pac-Man fan, it’s a great game to take wherever you go, just in case you have a few idle minutes you need to fill with some video game goodness.

Recommended

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan

You certainly won’t find the kind of beat-em-up action here that you would in the original coin-op or Turtles in Time, but Fall of the Foot Clan still provides a lot of fun and should satisfy Turtle fans.

In the late ’80s and early ’90s, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were huge. They had starred in a blockbuster movie and cartoon series, had been translated into a popular line of action figures, and had been featured in a four-player coin-op that was the highlight of many arcades. Eager young gamers waited for the TMNT gaming experience at home, first receiving an NES game unrelated to the arcade cabinet before being blessed with a port of the coin-op. In between the release of these NES games, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fall of the Foot Clan—the first Turtles game for the Game Boy—was released. Though it did not match the complexity of the arcade or NES games, gamers finally could Turtle Power with them on the road.

I remember reading about this cart in GamePro and being impressed by the graphics. The game features large, detailed sprites that are perfect representations of the Turtle characters. Playing through the game, you’ll run across Bebop, Rocksteady, Baxter Stockman, Shredder, Krang, along with many recognizable lesser foes like Mousers and Foot Soldiers. The animation is very limited, but even twenty years later, I am impressed by the Game Boy graphics. Many of the cut scenes look like they could have been lifted right from the cartoon series . . . had the cartoons been in black and white (or is that green and paler green?).

The game plays very simply. You choose which turtle you want to use at the beginning of each stage or after one of your turtles falls in combat, but the differences in each turtle are only represented by the weapon each carries. You would expect that Leonardo’s and Donatello’s weapons would extend further than Raphael’s and Michelangelo’s, but that is not the case. Though it did seem to me that Michelangelo’s nunchucks were faster, I think this was more wishful thinking on my part than reality. In addition to each turtle’s primary weapon, shurikens can be thrown while crouching, and each turtle can jump kick as well. You have an unlimited number of shurikens, but it is often much easier to just walk up to an enemy and attack than to fight him from afar. There is some platforming involved in the game, but for the most part, you will be walking left to right attempting to hit your enemies before they hit you. Enemies are generally easy to kill or avoid, and the most problematic foes you’re likely to come across are the Foot Soldiers who jump onscreen and attempt to land on you. The bosses are surprisingly easy as well, and I made my battles with them more difficult by trying to find their patterns of attack. For example, I almost died fighting Shredder, thinking I had to avoid his attack and jump behind him to retaliate, until I realized I could walk up to him, strike, and then walk away.

The sound in this game is standard fare for the Game Boy, though it does have a good rendition of the Turtles theme song . . . which you will hear repeatedly throughout the game. Unless my count is off, the game alternates between two songs during the level, switching to a different tune for each boss battle. This didn’t detract from the game for me at all, and I found myself singing along to the Turtles theme in my head as I played.

Fall of the Foot Clan is a short game and can be beaten in under thirty minutes, which in my opinion makes it a perfect game for a portable. The game is very easy, and you may find yourself blowing through it on your first playthrough without losing a single turtle. You certainly won’t find the kind of beat-em-up action here that you would in the original coin-op or Turtles in Time, but Fall of the Foot Clan still provides a lot of fun and should satisfy Turtle fans.

Highly recommended