Light theme

Jr. Pac-Man review
by StaySkeptic

A worthy alternative, rather than a true successor.
Rating: 7/10
What is it? Jr. Pac-man, a 2d arcade maze game, is the second game in what I would call the ''Midway Pac-Man Trilogy''. Midway was the American publisher of the Pac-Man games, and they made Pac-Man games without Namco's permission. The first one was a simple hack called Pacman plus, not too different from most bootlegs of the game. The second was this game. The third was the very successful Ms. Pacman.

What's different?

I lack documentation, but the mechanics here seem so similar it almost makes me wonder whether this is a romhack of the original. I heard ms.pacman had more randomized ghost A.I to prevent patterns, but I doubt this game had that. Sadly I can not give some kind of in-depth analysis when lacking documentation.

 The features/gimmicks however are:
- 7 unique, new mazes. The last few get looped until you die.
-Mazes are now bigger, about 3 screens wide, and the screen smoothly scrolls.
-Fruit items now move. When they move over a pellet, they become a thicker pellet. Thicker pellets slow pac-man down even more than regular pellets, but give more points
-No warp tunnels
-Different theming, centering around Pac-mans son. The intermissions are a bit more advanced, but a bit too long on repeat playthroughs.

My opinion:

Almost all the things that make the original fun are here, so I will not talk about those.

-The new mazes make the game less monotonous. I don't think they're as tightly designed as the original, but I haven't played enough to judge these maps balance and gameplay-wise.

-The lack of warp tunnels makes sense because there are more routes to escape to in these big maps meaning they don't feel like as much of an immediate threat, however in my opinion it takes away an option that was quite interesting in the original. It also makes you feel much more pressured by the ghosts, making you more worried about getting cornered.

-The large maps have a huge impact on the game's feel and pacing, creating a slower game where a single win takes quite a while and more things to consider when making your movement decisions, yet in other ways a more tense game because there's more at stakes and you can't always see the whole playing field. There are more corners you can take to get rid of ghosts, but there's also more places to get cornered.

-The only part that is truly creative is the fruit bonus item system. In the original game, getting fruit felt like a ''fuck yeah more points'' moment, here, getting these fruits (well, now they're other things) feels more like a relief because the thing actively makes the stage harder for you in the future and it travels around in manners I don't understand.
It also adds a basic risk-reward mechanic, because those harder to eat pallets give more points so you could let it go on purpose (not sure if scoring-wise it's actually well balanced to achieve that effect, but the idea is cool). It means you have a secondary goal to worry about, it's not so urgent it detracts from the main goal of avoiding ghosts and eating pallets, but not so insignificant it doesn't actually impact it. I think it complements the gameplay pretty well, to be honest. It makes you re-think the way you play just slightly and adds a bit of unpredictability that I think makes the experience different and kinda fun.

-The graphics are kinda charming, but not as nice as ms.pac-man.

-In terms of difficulty pacing I felt like the early game is hard enough for it to remain interesting when replaying, but not so hard it just sucks the fun out of an easier opening. I don't know enough about the game to judge the maps, strategies, scoring system, balance/exploits, and further difficulty pacing. This is simply a first impression review.


I haven't played pac-man plus much, but it feels like a not so well designed gimmicky hard mode mod. Jr. Pacman on the other hand feels like some kind of alternate game mode of the original that while not as fun, is still a worthy variation. Ms. Pac-man feels like some kind of polished definitive take on the original Pac-man, but Jr. Pacman is different enough to be fun for other reasons. It's not the most creative game as most of what makes it fun is thanks to it having roughly the same mechanics as the original Pac-man, but its major changes are different enough to warrant its own existence.