Bally/Midway, the US distributors of Pac-Man,
made a couple of weird sequels and spinoffs to
Namco's original Pac-Man. Baby Pac-Man
was a half-pinball, half-video game chimera. Professor Pac-Man
was a quiz game. Namco went off on other weird tangents, like Pac & Pal
, featuring a helper ghost, and Super Pac-Man,
in which Pac-Man eats keys to unlock gates in a maze. One of their weirdest ideas was to put Pac-Man into a nascent genre called the platform game
, in which a character moves through a scrolling level, jumping on platforms and collecting items while avoiding enemies. And so Pac-Man
, one of the most abstract games ever, lead to Pac-Land
, which put gameplay elements of the original game into a cartoon-realistic world and made characters
of the yellow shapes. In the game, Pac-Man agrees to walk some fairies home, through a ghost-filled town in which he lives for some reason. He says goodbye to Ms. Pac-Man and Baby Pac-Man, sticks a fairy under his adventurin' hat and sets off.
Pac-Land differs from most platformers in a couple of important areas. First, the control scheme-- Pac-Land uses, by default, the I and II buttons to run and the d-pad to jump. In a genre that depends so heavily on precise controls, this control scheme is jarring. It's strange that anyone ever thought that using action buttons for movement and directional buttons for action made any sense. But, of course, these are the same people who designed ghost enemies that attack you by throwing their children out of airplanes.
Second, unlike most platformers, Pac-Man's method of dealing with enemies is not to stomp on them or attack them. Alone, he is completely unequipped to dispatch any of the numerous ghosts who occupy the levels, flying around in airplanes or driving in jaunty automobiles. In true Pac-Man fashion, he can pick up Power Pellets and eat ghosts, but most of the game is spent avoiding ghosts.