Namco understands that retro mobile ports should be more than just quick cash-ins...
Super Pac-Man is sweet. I always enjoyed it more than the original Pac-Man or Ms. Pac-Man, for some reason. Even sweeter is that Namco's mobile port is surprisingly robust, and is a great example of how retro titles should be done on mobile phones.
The game is actually a fairly sharp departure from the familiar dot-munching formula. Each level still contains lots of goodies to devour - this time they vary, from cupcakes to apples instead of just dots - but they're all locked away behind closed doors. Littered around the maze are keys. Gobble a key, open a door, and gain access to the goodies. Eat them all to clear the level.
To handle this increased level of complexity, Pac-Man now has a secret weapon to help avoid and devour the roaming ghosts. In addition to the normal power pellets, super pellets have been thrown into the mix. Eating one supersizes Pac-Man allowing him to travel right past ghosts and locked doors, as well as giving him a speed boost.
Unlike the progression of Pac Man to Ms. Pac-Man, Super Pac-Man really does feel like an entirely different experience. The focus is no longer on evading and outsmarting ghosts, thanks to Pac-Man's powered-up abilities. Instead it's about finding the best route through the levels, getting past all the doors as quickly as possible, before your pac-powers run out.
The mobile port scores lots of bonus points, and follows a formula that other companies porting retro titles should pay attention to. In addition to a faithful port of the arcade original, a new enhanced mode has also been included. The visuals weren't upgraded, but it does add multiple new mazes, and throws even more power-ups into the mix, including a Pac-teleport, and the ability to freeze ghosts in their tracks for a short time. The power-ups didn't show up often enough to be too useful, but the new mazes do a lot to enhance the value of the package, and keep the gameplay fun and fresh for multiple sessions.
Another feature I great appreciate is the ability to toggle difficulty to either easy or normal, and the ability to begin a session on any level I previously cleared. Nothing is more frustrating than beginning a retro port at level 1 over and over.
Rounding out the package is a time trial mode, which gives gamers instant access to the game's time-oriented bonus stages, which normally appear once every few levels in a standard game.
Super Pac-Man's authentic recreation of the arcade experience coupled with it's numerous value additions make it an example for other retro ports on mobile to follow. It's true that a level-select option or difficulty slider defeats some of the purpose of gunning for a high-score, but mobile games should be developed for short gameplay bursts, and these features facilitate that kind of play perfectly.
What's Hot: Probably the most enjoyable of all the retro Pac titles
What's Not: Getting trapped in a dead end