And while I realize that this game is geared towards a budget price-point, that doesn't excuse poor design. While you may get a few seconds of nostalgic gameplay from Ms. Pac-Man: Quest for the Golden Maze
, you'll soon find yourself longing for the much more elegant original rendition of the game. This computer revamp does just about everything wrong, which is a real shame, since Pac-Man: Adventures in Time
was a delightful gaming experience. Ah, well.
The plot, if you want to call it that, is that Ms. Pac-Man is looking for the golden maze or something inside some ancient Egyptian ruins. It didn't make much sense to me, and I don't really think it was intended to, but it's nothing that's going to get in the way of the game. The game itself is presented as a series of different mazes, each filled with the requisite pellets that you have to chomp to progress to the next level.
All that's well and good, but the developers added a number of power-ups and special tokens and tricks to enhance the gameplay. For example, there's a little green ghost that moves around that you can eat, which creates a special power-up on the screen that's usually pretty useful. You can also get point multipliers and the requisite marching fruit. Getting three of the same fruit in a row and you get to go to a bonus level; complete the level in the required time and get a golden fruit. Getting three golden fruit gives you even more bonuses. The ghosts will try to attack you in the normal stages, of course, and you'll have to eat the power pellets to be able to retaliate. In theory, the revamping of the classic gameplay could be quite enthralling.
In practice, it's anything but. The levels are mind-bogglingly dull, with the layout changing in each level but quickly blending into an indistiguishable blur. The ghosts are morons, the powerups are plentiful, and I found myself with a 700,000 point score without even trying. What's more, the game eschews the intelligent challenge of the original game, allowing you to continue from any maze that you reached, making completion of the game a mere exercise in rote play. The game took me right at an hour to waltz through, and that was taking my time and trying to get the various fruit combinations in an attempt to trigger the secrets. What's more, the point allotment of the original is completely thrown; fruit come out often enough that it's not really worth doing the four-ghost combo from the original game because it just doesn't net you enough points. Ug.
There's a two-player mode, which requires two folks at the keyboard to try to munch more pellets than their opponent. It's got a whopping three stages available, and it's not particularly enthralling either.