- Gamer profile support for up to 10 players
- Varied level design
- Multiplayer support
- Eye candy can be distracting
- Relentless AI
- Some mazes don’t work well
Edgar Vigdal has resurrected a game he wrote originally for Commodore’s long-lamented Amiga platform, using PTK, a cross-platform game engine. The net result is Deluxe PocMon, a Pac-Man-inspired arcade action game that offers plenty of twists along with some modern embellishments.
If you’ve ever played Pac-Man —reintroduced to gamers most recently as an iPod game —you’ll know the basics of what to expect. You’re an animated yellow pie-shaped critter making your way through mazes of dots, pursued by ravenous ghosts. As you eat the dots, you’ll clear the maze; eat them all and you’ll progress to the next level. Special dots let you turn the table on the ghosts for a limited time and make you able to eat them, instead, garnering you more points.
There are also the requisite fruits and other objects to collect for bonus points. There are also powerups—devices that will imbue you with a special power for a limited duration, like a gun you can use to blast ghosts from afar, or a speed-quickening powerup that will have you speeding around the maze like a Formula One racer. There are score multipliers, bonuses that turn all the pellets in the maze into gems instead, and a whole host of other treats for PocMon to find. My personal favorite bonus is “Jump,” which will randomly take you a few levels forward or back in the game.
Waka Waka The classics never die; in this case, Deluxe PocMon is clearly inspired by the great Pac-Man.
The maze architecture is really different from what you’ll find in PacMan or a number of PacMan clones—some fare better than others; some have twists and turns so tight that it’s easy to overshoot them, and you’ll run into obstructions while you’re being chased by ghosts.
And while I’m on the subject, the ghost AI gets pretty relentless pretty quickly in the game’s normal mode—after a few levels, they come at you quick and stay on your tail, making it necessary to ration your power pellets accordingly.
That’s only the beginning of where Pac-Man and Deluxe PocMon diverge, however. There’s a multiplayer mode with support for up to four players (on the same computer, no network), a “duel” mode that pits you against another player in competition, “Kids” and “Ace” modes for beginning and expert players, respectively; and profile support for up to 10 players.
Vigdal has done a great job of keeping Deluxe PocMon up to date; the game is rich with 3-D-looking graphics (even though it’s a true 2-D sprite-based game), and it features a lot of advanced lighting and particle effects (something of a speciality of the PTK engine). All the eye candy can be a bit distracting from the action, but it’s nice.
The bottom line
At $20, Deluxe PocMon is a bit high-priced for a shareware game, but hardened classic arcade game fans will find more a little to like here—it’s like Pac-Man, but it’s not an exact clone, and that’s good.