Pac-man Pizza Parlor Review
by, 12th February 2012 at 01:31 PM (901 Views)
There is something I have wanted to do for a long time, but never really did it. It's reviewing games. This time, I decided to take the initiative and review a game that I have played occasionally and come up with something. I chose this game because it is a much-unheard game from a popular franchise. Because this is my first game review, I request that you provide your feedback.
Pac-man Pizza Parlor
(Title screen. No, you don't get to know my real name. Thank you, Rename button!)
Even after several years since his debut, Pac-man remains one of the most popular video game characters because his game about eating dots and avoiding ghosts back in 1980 was a very good game that anybody could play, including women. Over the years, the character had partaken in different genres. Some of the games he starred in include an action puzzler known as Pac-Attack, several platform games including Pac-Land and the Pac-man World games, and the traditional maze Pac-man games are known for, like Pac-man Championship Edition. Even though Pac-man may have starred in games outside the food maze he is known for, elements from the original game are still around, like ghosts and fruits. One such genre is the time management genre, made popular by Diner Dash. Do you know that part of Pac-man’s design inspiration is a pizza with a slice missing? While I do not know if this was the basis of this game, I find this fitting because it ties to the original inspiration well. Courtesy of Namco Networks, this game was released back in 2010.
Despite having Pac-man’s name on the title, the titular character isn’t the only one around! As you can see on the title screen, there is a girl named Cathy, who is the main character of the story, because time management games have typically female leads (Cake Mania and Delicious are prime examples). The story, told in comic format, basically goes like this: Cathy’s father was working on a night shift one night, when a ghost toppled a box of tomatoes, in which he slipped and hit his head (of course, the ghost took pleasure from it). As soon as Cathy found out about this, her father is sent to the hospital, where he is revealed to still be healthy. Unfortunately, he suffers from amnesia, so Cathy had to be in charge of running her father’s shop, with the friendly help of Pac-man after putting a quarter in an arcade machine.
(A gameplay screenshot showing Pac-man in action, along with the different types of customers.
Pokemon anime fans might think the middle customer look like someone)
In the game, you control two characters: Cathy and Pac-man. Cathy on the left not only serves the food to one of the customers waiting in line, but is also in charge of putting certain food in the oven to be baked, or throw away unwanted food. Pac-man, on the other hand, is supposed to go through a grid to reach for certain food that automatically appears when a customer orders something to put on a tray when space is available. Some dishes require more than one ingredient (salads, baked potatoes and of course, pizzas), so you need to reach out for the required ingredients to complete the dish. In some occasions, you will see ghosts. In true Pac-man fashion, they are fatal to Pac-man and you lose points, but luckily, the game’s pathfinding is intelligent so that, under normal circumstances, you won’t be hitting the ghost from point A to point B. Sometimes, the ghosts will turn into fruits, meaning you can gobble them up for some points and provide some extra customer satisfaction. They won’t be fruits forever, so if you are late for the fruit and are about to move to the ghost, you better press the right mouse button to cancel movement. Like the original Pac-man, pellets also appear, but no power pellets. The way to turn the ghosts blue like the original Pac-man is to collect enough pellets to fill the “Skill Meter” so that there is a brief period when you can gobble the nearer ghosts to accumulate points.
Another thing you will be seeing later on is the stage moving. The “Scroll Timer” will indicate when the stage is about to move, and there will be an indicator on whether the stage will move up or down. It’s a bad idea to be on a spot where you will go under the belt, as that will cause you to lose points as well. If the stage had moved to its farthest, then it will reverse its flow until it reached its farthest, so the stage movement is consistent. The moving will also replenish any ghosts and pellets that might be located off-spot, so you can recollect those when they appear. In addition to that, any foodstuff that went off from the belt will be relocated somewhere, but there might be a risk of it falling under a dangerous or unreachable spot. Frankly, the levels with moving stages are hectic, especially if they are moving fast, as you don’t exactly have a lot of time to react to the movements of the maze, making it a case of needing to know the stage well if you want to succeed. I should tell you this now: focusing on two things at once is definitely not in my league, so I find the double-tasking hard. In fact, there are moments when I got overwhelmed that I lost my concentration at times, although that’s just a matter of me being pressured. If you can focus on two things at once, you would probably do fine.
Of course, there are different types of customers who will be ordering things. Because the game never really tells you the customer’s characteristics, it’s usually assumed that all of them are quite identical besides their looks. However, each customer is actually different in their own way, although the differences are never mentioned. The type of food they order is almost always the same type, so for example, a young woman will, under normal circumstances, order a salad. I also felt that patience levels between the different customers are not the same, although that’s just my unproven observation. It would be nice to see how each customer differentiate from each other in some help screen, like say, Diner Dash. Still, one nice thing about the customers is how you never quite have a situation where two customers look the same. It gives the impression that there are a few regulars, though. One thing I noticed is how there is a male and female counterpart for each type of customer. There are a pair of children, African-Americans, teenagers, working people and fat people, making it a total of ten different customers.
Your objective in this game is to generate enough profit so that you will beat the level. In any time management game, there ought to be a kind of challenge in every level where the player needs to go the extra mile to score higher. Usually the other games give you the challenge of scoring higher for the nice token in each level, but this game is different. Instead of the score, you need to serve a certain number of food and/or beverages to customers. This basically means that you are rewarded for serving more customers during opening hours, which is a nice challenge. If you fail to generate the profit, you have to start the level all over, so you need to do your best this time.
With your money, you have the option to buy an upgrade, which includes embellishments, speed upgrades, and quantity of trays and ovens. These are quite possibly some of the most uncreative upgrades, because they are standard fare at making the game easier, and it doesn’t have something unique like say, free samples and a path upgrade where Pac-man can go to the right edge of the field in order to end up on the left (this one can be seen in the original Pac-man).
(The seventh minigame for the first seven weeks)
The levels are split into “weeks”, meaning that there are seven levels per week, appropriately called “days”. There will be six normal days for the first six levels, followed by a special seventh level. The seventh day in each week within the story contains a minigame, where you have to match-three items in the style of Bejeweled. The objective of this section is to clear each block so that they reveal a memento kept by Cathy’s father, so that his memory will return. If clearing a certain block is too hard for you, you can use one of the game’s powerups, which you can do by clicking it, and then the place you want to put it. There are three types of powerups: a hammer that destroys one block, a bomb that explodes the entire column and a bomb that explodes the entire row. Occasionally a powerup block would appear, and to collect it, you have to make it reach the bottom. By the way, there is a time limit in this minigame too, but this minigame shouldn’t be too hard because there should be plenty of time to reveal the picture, and the powerups help a ton. It’s a nice breather from the harder levels you might have faced.
(One of the Expert levels. Notice how that guy is angry? He starts off with low happiness so that your spaces are filled with pointless drinks, meaning you need to throw precious drinks away. Only the fat woman and him do this.)
If you completed the game’s story, you can choose to play the stages you had been through (so you can endlessly horde your cash), but more importantly, you can try out the more challenging levels, available after the story. When I say challenging, I mean it. Most levels require me a few tries to complete the level’s mission, so I think this would not be different for other players. Some elements that you will see in the challenging stages are customers ordering a lot of things just to leave immediately, stages that move fast, and customers starting out unhappy. It is a good idea to fully upgrade your facilities before attempting this, because it will be a lot harder otherwise. Another thing different from story in the challenging levels is the seventh day of the week. Instead of the former’s match-three minigames, you are treated with a Pac-man-only level, where you need to navigate him through a moving maze with pellets and ghosts so that you will reach the goal score. Unlike the former minigame, this one is hard, as the mazes generally move fast and some planning is required to maximize your score.
Like any time management game, there is an endless version of the main game, so that the life of this game is extended. Things work differently in this version, however. First of all, if you lose three customers, you lose the game. Secondly, your facilities are prepared and not optimal, and there is no way to upgrade them as far as I know, so you are stuck with what you got till the end. Thirdly, as an endless game, it is expected to get harder as you play, so expect to see customers ordering more complex combinations and more obstacles in the maze. It is something that I have the ability to go on, but personally, I am not too thrilled to go on.
In terms of aesthetics, the game did them quite well. Pac-man’s playing field looks simple, which is great because you can easily see where you are going. The customers have a distinct look, although I felt that the humans look a tad complex-looking for my own liking. As for the sound effects, we have the classic Pac-man sound effects, which never get tiring to hear because they are not grating, and fit the Pac-man theme of the game. The music is also decent and alright to my ears, so that’s a great thing because it’s not too noisy or irritating that gameplay is hindered. There are not many tracks though, so it might get repetitive.
All in all, Pac-man Pizza Parlour is a great game, and if you are interested in a different kind of time management game, you could always try the demo of this game first to test the waters. It’s just that the game starts off really easy initially, and the challenging bits won’t come into play until much later. The expert portion will really test your limits, so if you like a real challenge, be sure to give this game a go. If you do like it, you might probably buy it, as it’s rather affordable. As of writing this, it’s only worth US$6.99 at most.
Score: 8 out of 10!
Pros: Different take on the time management genre; Control two characters at once; More to do after finishing story (Endless and Expert); Expert mode is very challenging; Pac-man elements utilised well; Original characters doesn’t feel shoehorned with the Pac-man franchise; Good aesthetics; Affordable
Cons: Power-ups are uninspiring; Bejeweled-style minigame might be too easy; Inability to upgrade in Endless Mode; Beginning might not be too challenging
That's all for my review. I hope you enjoyed reading it. How did I do with my review?
Thanks for reading.
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