Bouncing back to fairyland

Pacland logo

IF Amiga Computing was a low budget production, this review would start, "Remember Pac-Man all those years ago? Well, Pac's back in a whole new set of adventures!" or something equally repugnant. As this is not your average trash mag, we managed to keep it until well into the first sentence.
This is quality journalism here. There is not no bad grammar or spelling errors here. Nor are there jokes of the type which have haunted computer magazines since spelling checkers were invented.

Pac-Land is one of those annoying arcade machines that plays a rancid tune which put you off destroying the Sinistar in the coin-op next door. The people who play Pac-Land always seem to be very good at it, never failing to get to the third trip at the very least.
Strangely enough, a cutesy game like this attracts the oddest types. Dangerous looking bikers have been known to play it, casting furtive glances around lest a friend should catch them in an embarrassing situation.

The story is simple and virtually unnecessary. A fairy has got lost and Pac, being a true and stout - and positively obese if you want my opinion - yeoman decides to take her back to Fairyland. Pass the sick-bag, Alice! But those naughty ghosts Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde are intent on stopping him, so you must outwit them.

At the end of the fourth stage of every trip the Fairy Queen gives you a pair of magic boots to help you on your way. And to think adults wrote this junk. Pass the bong, brother.

Blinky, Pinky, Inky and the other one appear in planes, cars, flying saucers, even on pogo sticks in their quest to stop Pac's relentless scrolling advance. What makes the arcade machine bearable is the very sharp and simple cartoon-style graphics, which scroll very quickly and go well with a tune reminiscent of banging heads off walls.

There are the obligatory fruit and power pills, and objects to be jumped over in a fairly predictable manner. Springboards give you the power to leap enormous distances, but only if you hammer the keys like nothing on earth. I just about smashed my Navigator on this bit. Joysticks are cheaper than new keyboards.

This would be one of the best Amiga games going but for three things - the graphics, the scrolling and the screen size. It has jagged low-res graphics, contrasting with the sharp cartoons of the coin-op.
It also has a 56 pixel high black band at the bottom of the screen, which is the price we pay for having a superior machine. Then there's the very ripply scroll, nothing near as smooth or as fast as the Amiga can do.

Pac-Land suffers from chronic underscan - even the ST default character set is present in all its somethingness. I'm all for people writing games for the ST, but when the ST comes to my Amiga I switch off.


Pacland logo

Quicksilva
Price: £19.95

Pac is back! At long last the Amiga version of the arcade smash Pacland is available. As Pacman your quest is to help a lost fairy back to Fairyland. To succeed you must pass through towns, scale rugged mountains, forge dangerous ravines and trek across deserts. Your progress is hindered by Inky, Blinky, Pinky, Clyde and Sue. These persistent ghosts will try to stop you in a variety of ways, from running over you with cars and buses to jumping up and down on your head with a pogo stick. Your only protection against the ghosts are the power pills that are dotted around the island. Eat one of these and you will be able to take revenge on the helpless spectres.

If you succeed in getting to Fairyland the Queen will give you a pair of flying boots to speed you on your return journey. But that is not it. What should be waiting for you when get home but another lost fairy, so it is off again but this time there is more to negotiate.

I could not wait to start playing Pacland. I was expecting great things from the Amiga version - but I was sorely disappointed.
The graphics in the background are good, in fact they are almost identical to the arcade original. The foreground sprites are adequate but are not to the same standard as the background, just take a look at Pac's conk, what a hooter (Barry PacManilow?)!
The sound is faithful to the arcade version but a few spot effects are missing. What really lets Pacland down is the gameplay. The playing area jerks nauseously from right to left and that is unforgivable. The Amiga is capable of perfectly smooth scrolling as proven in Pacmania which was an excellent conversion.

Not only is the scrolling awful but the game is riddled with bugs. For example, you can end a jump by landing on solid ground and be swallowed up by the earth!
There are also many features on the arcade version that are missing from the Amiga game: there is no parallax scrolling; you cannot choose the trip number; the list is quite lengthy. Due to the scrolling and bugs you are probably not going to want to play Pacland for very long.

Pacland could have been converted to the Amiga almost perfectly but Quicksilva have made a real pig's ear of it. If you like Pacland then I suggest you shovel your twenty quid into the old arcade game and steer clear of this.


Pacland logo

Grandslam, Amiga £19.95

After a hard day at work, Pacman likes nothing better than to return to his home in Pacland and relax with his family. Unfortunately, he can't refuse a soul in trouble, so when a lost little fairy comes to him for help, who is he to refuse?

All across Pacland are many hazards, including Pac's enemies the ghosts which are far too much for a little fairy to overcome alone. So Pacman puts his best shoes on and pops the fairy under his hat for the adventure.


Gordon Houghton I really like the coin-op and I thought the 64 version was brilliant. Now if the programmers can get a really good version onto the 8-bit machine, why is the 16-bit version so poor? The graphics are weak with poorly defined and animated sprites travelling over incredibly jerky backdrops. The sound isn't much better, consisting of a few twee tunes and some rather thin effects. And I wouldn't even mind that so much if the controls weren't so fiddly and the movement so slow. In fact, I'm pretty disappointed all round (very round in my case). Oh well...
Maff Evans I was a great fan of the arcade original so I was really looking forward to the Amiga version. Now it's here I seem to be the odd one out, 'cos everyone else hates it and I like it! So what if the graphics aren't exactly like the coin-op and the scrolling's a bit jerky, it's still good laugh. Maybe it's just the fact that I can now play without having to spend loads of money but I don't care because I really like it. So don't pay any attention to those other miserable so and sos, check it out! You might like it too.
Zzap's Rockford: Butt, but, dink, dink  Thing: Movedown... timebus!