If there's one character that dominated the face of the video gaming landscape during the early 80's, it had to be Pac-Man. Rarely could you walk into a bar or corner pizza join without seeing an upright or cocktail variation of this classic game. Whether it was Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Baby Pac-Man, or Super Pac-Man, the game was even more commonly seen than Street Fighter 2 in the early 90's. Seeking a way to bolster their launch line-up, NEC decided that it would be a no-brainer to release a Pac-Man game in a country where Pac-Man had already been a huge commercial success.
Pac-Land puts a new twist on the classic Pac-Man theme. The game manages to cross the original game with a platformer along the lines of Keith Courage. How are the results? It actually makes for a very enjoyable game. Although it's certainly not one of the most innovative titles for the TurboGrafx, it's definitely a solid platformer.
Upon playing the game, the first thing that you will likely notice is the dreadful default control scheme. For some reasn, Namco decided to have the player use the d-pad for jumping and the buttons for running. Why anyone would want to do this truly boggles the mind. After years of running with the d-pad and jumping with buttons, they apparently felt that gamers had grown tired of this configuration. Fortunately, you can change the control scheme to a more conventional setup. Once this is done, there are no complaints about the gameplay. Even some precision jumping is needed occasionally, but it proves to be no problem.
Moving on to the audio-visual department, Pac-Land tends not to use the TurboGrafx to its full capabilities. The grapics, although colorful, are not very detailed. Likewise, the sound effects leave something to be desired. The soundtrack for the most part ranks in the range of tolerable. Although, I do have to give Namco credit for the eerily haunting score that they used in the haunted house levels. I honestly could not sleep for days after listening to this creepy music.
All in all, Pac-Land is probably only going to be a game that collectors, Pac-Man fans, and platformer fans will want to seek out. It's not one of the better efforts for the system, all though it is a fun game to pop in for a quick play. The fact that it was one of the launch titles will probably make this one easier to find at a lower price. If you can find a bargain, it may be worth a look. Otherwise, you might want to look elsewhere.