I wonder how many people have never heard of this game?
This game is somewhat lost to the annals of time as Bally Midway created this game without Namco’s permission and is cited as one of the projects which severed the two’s relationship.
Jr. Pac-Man is yet another spin-off of the tried-and-true formula which stormed arcades with the original Pac-Man and its most famous incarnation, and another originally unapproved Namco mod, Ms. Pac-Man.
Junior probably isn’t as well-known because the changes to the classic formula aren’t, well, classic – at least when compared with Ms. Pac-Man.
Instead of a pink bow, Junior wears a beanie. The ghosts are the same, the pellet-eating the same, the cutscenes tell of some weird relationship with a girl ghost, and the items just swap of to being kid-styled.
The goal of the game is the same: eat all of the pellets without losing all of your lives. You start with three lives, the standard, and try to avoid touching any of the four ghosts.
The game looks like a bootleg but plays like a mofo.
Seven total mazes appear in the game, with most of them increasing the power pellets to six instead of four. For the unfamiliar, the energizers allow you a brief amount of time to eat the ghosts. I found Junior to be a lot faster to adapt to, especially with the speed of the ghosts and the lack of time a power pellet (or “energizer”) lasts… sometimes a mere second or two.
By comparison, Ms. Pac-Man feels like you’re playing in slow-motion, even on the first level!
There are no escape tunnels and the boards seem massive compared with its predecessors, as the screen scrolls horizontally rather than showing the entire level on-screen.
Those items? They make the game more difficult if you don’t grab them, as each pellet it touches gets bigger – giving you a higher score but slowing you down further. If the item touches a power pellet, both the pellet and item disappear.
I understand trying to capitalize on the Pac-Man craze with another variation at the time. However, the changes to Junior seem like a “World Champions” type of challenge rather than appealing to the casual gamer.
Years later I now understand why this cartridge was seldom played on my Atari, although, the video game crash of the 80’s saw me pick this up in the discount bin for a mere $3 – likely the reason I didn’t despise the game as much then as I do now in this review. (Plus, games were just understood to be ridiculously difficult to play back then!)
For Pac-Man fans, check it out. For those who want a challenge – check it out.
For all others? Meh, still check it out. I just don’t promise that the trip down memory lane will necessarily be a fun one!