Pac-Man (Game Boy) Review

By Rudy Lavaux 07.08.2011

Review for Pac-Man on Game Boy

There's no denying that Pac-Man helped pave the way for video game characters to follow. In the midst of 1980’s space shooter-crowded industry, the yellow character with a big smile (on the arcade cabinet art, anyway) became the first video game character to be easily recognized by people worldwide, even before Mario - or Jumpman - came onto the scene. Being such a widely recognized video game and pop culture icon, Pac-Man was ported to countless video game systems and computers. Game Boy, one of the first widely successful handheld consoles, was treated to its own version of Pac-Man, which has just been made available on Nintendo 3DS’ Virtual Console. Is this portable version of the classic as good as the original, though?

For the young ones amongst you who have never played Pac-Man before, the concept of this game is to control a yellow ball (that's Pac-Man!) inside a maze-like map, eating pac-dots that pave the corridors, while avoiding the ghosts that roam within them, eager to catch the greedy dot gobbler. With this basic idea in mind, add into the mix that some of these dots are bigger, power pellets. Eating one turns every ghost blue, making Pac-Man temporarily invulnerable and capable of eating those ghosts' sheets. Victimised ghosts will retreat to the centre of the maze as floating eyeballs to get themselves together and pick up another coloured sheet to return to the chase.

Pac-Man progresses after completing each maze, by eating up every dot on the screen. The mazes all look the same; the only difference is that the speed of the game increases, making things more difficult as you go on. You win only one extra life when you reach 10,000 points, and the game goes on until you lose all your lives. The whole point is to stay alive as long as possible and score as many points as you can. Fruits also appear sometimes, gifting even more points if they are chomped down.

Screenshot for Pac-Man on Game Boy

Monitoring the ghosts’ behaviour is key to succeeding in staying alive. As the game speeds up, you won't have as much time to react when they come close to you, and thankfully, their moves aren't completely random. Each coloured ghost - Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde - has a different general behaviour which, if understood, can help you predict where they'll go in the maze, helping you in keeping them at bay. While this applies to this Game Boy port of the arcade original as well, there's a problem though: the original Game Boy was incapable of rendering colours. For example, in this port, telling Blinky from Inky is impossible, so this makes predicting where they'll turn left or right equally unachievable, unless you can tell from their behaviour who they are.

Unfortunately, another problem arises making this even harder to achieve, if it ever was possible. The low resolution of the original Game Boy screen narrows the view of the whole maze to a fraction of it, so you can't see where all the ghosts are at the same time. This isn't too much of a problem if you don't seek to break records and play for hours on end, but don't expect to be able to play Game Boy Pac-Man competitively like you would on the arcade version or most home console adaptations. The graphics are close to the original, despite being in black and white. Even the cute intermissions of the original are present. However the visuals lack the appeal that the flashy colours of the original had. The same goes for the sound. While the sound effects and couple of chiptunes are okay, they don't have the legendary addictiveness of their arcade counterparts.

Screenshot for Pac-Man on Game Boy

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 6 out of 10


Game Boy Pac-Man is as close to the original as the system permitted and still an enjoyable experience, the basic concept being kept intact. However, the limited capabilities of the grey brick diminish the lasting appeal of this portable version. Despite being priced slightly cheaper than most Virtual Console games on the Nintendo 3DS eShop, it's still a bit too expensive for a stripped down version of this classic which is available for free on a lot of systems, namely the iPhone (albeit with crappy touch screen controls). It's hard to justify its price, but for those of you who only own Nintendo-branded portable gaming devices, this is currently the cheapest way for you to play Pac-Man on the go. For those players, this might turn out to be an enjoyable game, but others might want to look somewhere else for a portable cure to their Pac-Man fever.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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