Finally managed to play Pac-Man in pseudo-3D! With Pac-Mania, Namco brought in 1987 (and distributed by Atari Games in the United States and Europe) a different perspective of the almighty Pac-Man title to the arcades. The game was later converted to almost every home-computer and video-game console of the time, such as Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum, Sega Megadrive/Genesis, Nintendo NES, Sharp X68000 and many more!
It is a pseudo-3D interpretation of the classic maze game genre and features most elements of the original Pac-Man, as well as several new features. The lovable ghosts now glide through the air. Dots and energizer pellets hang in midair. Pac-Man gets a new power: He can jump up and over ghosts! There's also a Pac Booster feature that lets you move Pac-Man at super-speed. You'll love the new challenging mazes - they come in so many mind-boggling shapes, they'll turn you into a certified Pac-Maniac! Apart from the regular Dotty pills the maze also contains several larger pills of various colors. There are always four yellow ones that power ups Pac Man and make him mean giving him the ability to eat the ghosts for a short period of time (taken from the original 2D classic). Of course there are various other power-up pills (of different color) to collect during your quest! Pac-mania is an excellent game to play, indeed, but the gameplay suffers badly as you cannot see the ghosts approaching due to the Atari ST's significantly small game area here (176x200 pixels)!
The Atari ST conversion is technically good, due to the system's graphics hardware limitations, several features pretty cute graphics and innovative level design of the original is missing here. The stage details here look similar to the Amiga and Archimedes conversions but are mostly grey colored on the Atari ST (except for the sprites) whilst the off-gameplay area has extra colors giving an overall of 16 colors on screen (gameplay area uses 8 colors, while the game-score and lives panel uses 8 extra). Only the Pac-man character and the cute ghosts are in color! Also a significant difference with the Amiga (and Archimedes) is that, the gameplay area on the ST is significantly smaller (the playing field is only 176x200!), probably due to the lack of Blitter chip on the earlier ST models and thus he inability to scroll large portions of background layer (due to the pseudo-3D effect here) and the entire screen here had to be re-drawn whenever Pacman moved! I think that if this game used the extra specs of a STE hardware such as the Blitter chip, it would be almost similar to the other two 16bit systems. Of course the Sharp X68000 conversion is identical to the original and superior of course to any other 16bit home-computer version (and console). Sonically, the game offers a great tune and numerous sounds FX, but slightly inferior in quality to the Amiga and Archimedes.
In-game music sample:
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CPU: Motorola 68000 16/32bit at 8mhz. 16 bit data bus/32 bit internal/24-bit address bus. MEMORY: RAM 512KB (1MB for the 1040ST models) / ROM 192KB GRAPHICS: Digital-to-Analog Converter of 3-bits, eight levels per RGB channel, featuring a 9-bit RGB palette (512 colors), 320x200 (16 color), 640x200 (4 color), 640x400 (monochrome). With special programming techniques could display 512 colors on screen in static images. SOUND: Yamaha YM2149F PSG "Programmable Sound Generator" chip provided 3-voice sound synthesis, plus 1-voice white noise mono PSG. It also has two MIDI ports, and support mixed YM2149 sfx and MIDI music in gaming (there are several games supported this).