Year Of Release: 1984
Pac-land would see Namco take Pac-Man away from his maze confines and place him into a side scrolling platform game. Now this is a very interesting game in the version that was released in Japan which was all done by Namco was different than the one released in the West which was done by Midway. You see by 1984, Pac-Man had become something of a pop culture icon and as a result as well as video games he also had some merchandise. He was popular enough that cartoon makers Hannah-Barbera wanted to make a Pac-Man animated series. The version of the game that was released in the West features a Pac-Man who looks like he does in the show. Whereas the Japanese version stuck with a more traditional looking Pac-Man.
Pac-Land would be the first game from Namco that would use their new (well new in 1984) and state of the art arcade board. The board was called the Namco Pac-Land board and it was an 8-bit arcade board. Thanks to this new board the game was able to use parallax scrolling, a feature that would not be a standard in games until the 16-bit era. Including Pac-Land only five games would make use of this board with some of them having enhancements made to allow for vertical scrolling and an increased number of colours.
The idea of Pac-Land is that Pac-man has a fairy under his hat and he needs to get the fairy back to Fairyland. The levels are called trips and each one sees Pac-Man needing to navigate a series of jumps and avoid ghosts as well. Like classic Pac-Man, Pac-Man gets the ability to eat the ghosts. Gamers loved the designs of the ghosts in Pac-Land as they would be in cars, planes and even fly UFO’s. Each trip is split into sections where you walk from left to right as you make your way to Fairyland. But on the last part though Pac-Man is given a special pair of boots from the Fairy Queen. These boots allow, Pac-Man to run faster and jump while in mid-air. Now Pac-man needs to run from right to left as he makes his way home to see Ms Pac-Man & Baby Pac-Man. The version that was released in the West also added in Sour Puss and Chomp Chomp from the Pac-Man animated series.
Current High Score: 4,150,400 by Mark Mendes
Pac-Land was a pretty big hit and as a result the game was released for home computers such as the Commodore 64, Amiga, ZX Spectrum and the Atari ST. The NES would get a port as would the TurboGrafx 16. Surprisingly there would be no Game Boy port of Pac-Land with the Atari Lynx being the only hand held system to get the game.
Pac-Land has been re-released over the years on Namco Museum V4 for the Playstation as well as the Nintendo Wii’s Virtual Console getting the NES port of the game. Most recently the game has appeared as part of Namco’s, Namco Arcade App for the iOS and in the compilation, Pac-Man Museum.
Namco has always loved their Pac-Land game. They loved it so much that in Super Smash Bros Wii U which is released in 2014, Pac-Man is not only a playable character, but his stage is taken right from Pac-Land.