[floatleft]http://www.snackbar-games.com/images/reviews/pacmanvs/cover.jpg[/floatleft]Pac-man vs. is a pretty simple game. It is, after all, Pac-man. We all know how to play. Gobble up the dots until there are none left. Avoid the ghosts, or use a power pellet and eat them. The “vs.” aspect is, of course, the ability to play against 3 other people, who control the ghosts and attempt to eat you. A simple formula, but one that I love. I think it may be one of my favorite multiplayer experiences of all time, equaling even the mighty Bomberman and Mario Kart series.
The setup for this game requires 1 ‘Cube, 1 GBA, and a link cable. Anyone who owns Four Swords or Crystal Chronicles should have the required gear. The GBA is used by the Pac-man player, who plays a conventional game of Pac-man on it. The three ghost players use a normal controller and only get to see a small portion of the screen surrounding each ghost, as well as a little “radar” screen.
When you start the game, it randomly selects who gets to be Pac-man. The 4th player takes the GBA and passes it to Pac-man, taking his old controller. This exchange happens again anytime someone new becomes Pac-man. This set up actually works really well, and I don’t think I have ever lost track of who is supposed to be whom. You may want to watch the cable tangle, though, since the constant swapping back and forth causes some serious chaos with the controller cords. If you have the money, maybe you should look into buying Wavebirds.
Now, as I have stated before, one person plays Pac-man, and the other 3 play ghosts. Pac-man gets ten points for each dot he eats, 50 for power pellets, and so on. The goal of the ghost players is, of course to stop Pac-man before he can pump his score up. The trick is that the ghosts must cooperate, but they each want to catch Pac-man for themselves. The one who actually catches Pac-man gets a bunch of points and a turn at further upping his score by being the new Pac-man. Whoever reaches a preset score limit first is the winner.
Again, a simple game, but the sheer intensity of it is amazing. Although you face only 3 ghosts, rather than 4, you must remember that your opponents are humans. You will face much better tactics than any Pac-man player is used to. By the same token, the ghosts have to be careful to try to keep an edge on catching Pac-man before the other guys do. Pac-man himself can perform some incredible jukes and misdirections. The first time I actually completed a board on my friends without being caught, the shame and humiliation I gave them almost felt better than the actual points I earned from it.
One other nice touch is Mario’s voice at key events: “Pac-man ate a power pellet,” “This-a look not so good,” and the classic “Big F*cking Fruit!” I’m not sure what the last one is really supposed to be, but everyone I know is on agreement in what we hear. These little jabs and information help add some extra Nintendo texture to the game.
This game is only $20 with Pac-man World 2 (Which I won’t be reviewing, because I wasn’t a big fan). If you can afford all the gear to play Four Swords or Crystal Chronicles, you can pick this up. I can honestly say this game may be the most value for money of any party game I have ever played. One warning, though: DO NOT PLAY WITH ANYTHING LESS THAN FOUR PEOPLE. It just doesn’t work to have dumb AI ghosts in the mix.