So Mario didn't have quite the successful outing when Nintendo attempted to send its hero into the wacky, random world of Pinball. But that's not going to stop Namco from attempting the same thing on the Game Boy Advance with its Pac-Man Pinball Advance
title, set for release later this spring. Namco's given us an early revision of the game that's going to ship in just a few more weeks, and we've been able to send the company's hero flying around the two available pinball tables.
Pac-Man Pinball Advance has been developed by Human Soft, previously responsible for producing Namco's Ace Combat Advance title released late last month. For the company's pinball game, Human Soft has played its production a bit more conservatively than the studio's Mode-7 engine of Ace Combat Advance. The engine created for this title is much more traditional, offering prerendered artwork and a scrolling environment for the two pinball tables available.
Kicking around Pac-Man in Pac-Man Pinball Advance feels much more natural than flipping a spherically-squashed Nintendo plumber. Pac-Man makes a much better pinball than Mario ever did, and the dot-eater's classic game mechanics move over pretty well into the realm of pinball. In this design, players simply whack Pac-Man around the table, munching dots scattered around the field...on occasion a power pill will surface that will power up Pac-Man and allow him to eat the familiar ghosts wandering the playfield for extra points.
The cool thing is how closely the developer's keeping the Pac-Man elements in mind for his pinball exploits. The scoring system's the same: 10 points a dot, and munching ghosts nets 200, 400, 800, and 1600 if eaten in succession. Every action nets the classic Pac-Man effect; the developer digitally reproduces the sounds of the classic arcade to keep the game as familiar to Pac-Man players as possible.
And the pinball physics, a huge part of any video pinball game, have been pulled off pretty well in Pac-Man Pinball Advance. All the special, skillful techniques, like flipper passing, can be pulled off in the GBA game...as long as you can slow the ball down to trap it with the flipper. Pac-Man's weight is a little on the light and speedy side, so it's not quite realistic pinball. Hopefully things can tighten up in handling before the game hits shelves this spring.
Hit the media link below for new footage and screens of Pac-Man Pinball Advance in action. We'll have a full review when the game hits shelves in a few weeks.
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