Move over, Pac-Man! Improvements have arrived, old-timer.
A year or so ago I had the pleasure of reliving my childhood dream on the iPad by reviewing Pac-Man. While high sensation gamers of today don't fully appreciate such a classic, they will doubly not appreciate the improvements that were made when the unofficial sequel to the 1980's hit was released in the form of a sexy yellow blob with a pink bow in her hair called Ms. Pac-Man. In one sense, yes it is pretty sexiest, but without those sexy yellow legs and bow in the hair it would be just Pac-Man in drag (not that there is anything wrong with that).
Seriously speaking/typing, I'm not sure anyone could have guessed how big Ms. Pac-Man would be when it arrived on the scene in 1981. On the surface it literally looks like the same game as the original with an update character (and the addition of lipstick). In reality, the achievements of Ms. Pac-Man are not as appreciated as it should. In this game it features levels that changed. So every 2-3 levels you would get a different layout to get Ms. Pac-Man through. It offered variety and it still offers the same variety on the iPad. Another improvement over the original was the fact that the game sped up as you progressed through the levels. What this does is offer more intense gameplay and less time to make the correct pattern decision.
Finally, the biggest difference, and one that most people will remember, is how the cut scenes in between the level changes told a more in-depth story of the Pac relationship (and eventual sexual contact to produce a child -- not as cool as you're imagining right now -- perv). The story was a bit more involved in Ms. Pac-Man and something that added a bit more spice to the gameplay.
So, before we even get to the iPad part of this review, know that this game was a huge improvement over the original. More things were added and more depth was discovered in such a simple game. Also, it was much better than Pac-Man, to sum it up.
So how did it translate to the iPad? Well, with everything iPad related you have to think about the control scheme first. The regretful part of a game like this, and the original, is that it's very difficult to translate the controls to the iPad. The best thing Namco could have done is something that they did do; offered a variety of control schemes. The control options are broken down like this:
Joystick: This is the virtual joystick on the actual screen. Located in the lower left side, the virtual joystick is neat to look at, but hardly practical. Someone with chubby thumbs/fingers (like myself) will have a difficult time trying to get the Pac to go the way you want her to go. I found my fingers slipping on more than one occasion with this option, so I abandoned it completely.
Accelerometer: No. No. (and no). Tilt the iPad the direction you want to go. It's not only impossible to do this while looking at the screen, but it also is just so awkward that you'll feel uncomfortable doing it in public. Avoid at all costs.
Swipe: YES! Swipe your finger the direction you want to go in the lower control box at the bottom of the screen. You will use this control scheme the most and it works delightfully well.
So what else is cool about this game? Despite the lack of two-player (that's what made arcade games so much fun! Where is this?) and the lack of online (that wouldn't make sense anyway), the game is still fun to play with. My eight and six-year old daughters will wake up early to play this game. They will sacrifice their breakfast (not really) to get in a game of it before school. If that doesn't speak volumes about how much fun, and how easy the game still is to pick up, I'm not sure what can define it. On top of this Ms. Pac-Man is priced at $4.99. For a classic like this it's difficult to pass up for that type of money on the iPad.
It's something you should own.