The ghosts, the fruits and the energisers were all still there from the original 1980 Pac-Man game, but Pac-Land took the yellow orb out of the power pellet maze and into a side-scrolling world of adventure.
In the new game, Pac-Man was no longer a featureless yellow chomping machine – he had arms, legs, eyes, a nose and even clothing. The simple graphics of the original Pac-Man game had been replaced with a cartoony look based on Hanna-Barbera’s Pac-Man Saturday morning cartoon series.
Pac-Man’s mission was to venture out of Pac-Land and through several harsh environments on his way to Fairyland.
Inky, Blinky, Pinky, Clyde and Sue were all on hand to spoil our hero’s journey, riding everything from a pogo stick to a town car to a flying saucer. But as always, Pac could temporarily turn the tables on his ghostly foes by chomping an energiser.
The many levels of Pac-Land had more dangers than mere ghosts, however. Obstacles had to be jumped, cacti had to be scaled, ponds had to be crossed via springboard, chasms had to be navigated on tricky log bridges, and so on. Once Pac finally reached Fairyland, he still had to return home to his wife, baby, and pets.
This time, though, the yellow guy had an edge. One of the fairies came along for the ride inside his hat, and out of gratitude for his services, the enchanted little being gave Pac a pair of high-jumping magic boots.
Pac-Land was a definite change of pace for the franchise, but the video game market in 1984 wasn’t exactly fertile ground for new ideas. The great mid-80s video game crash helped turn Pac-Land into a stateside disappointment, but the game was still a major hit in Japan.
More importantly to the future of video games, Pac-Land helped popularise the idea of a side-scrolling adventure, leading to the creation of the legendary Super Mario Bros. in 1986.