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We like Pac-Man here at Retro Gamer, but we’re also no enemies of progress – and Pac-Man has definitely been improved upon over the years. From the early thrills of Ms. Pac-Man to the more recent delights of the Pac-Man Championship Edition series, we’ve seen all sorts of positive variations on the core maze gameplay. Pac-Mania is amongst the simplest of these updates, adding isometric graphics and the ability to jump, but it’s also one of our favourites.
Now, you might be wondering why we’ve chosen to highlight an MSX game that is, after all, “just” a ZX Spectrum conversion. That’s fair, but we’d note that the Speccy had some fine games and its conversion of Pac-Mania was definitely one of them. This MSX version is very similar, with some decent scrolling that is very good considering the host platform, as well as a very cool PSG soundtrack that is arguably better than that of the other version. It’s also very responsive, and plays only slightly slower than the likes of the Master System version. Of course, there’s still some visible attribute clash, but that’s common in Speccy ports.
Of course, this isn’t the only version of Pac-Mania for the MSX family – a Japanese ROM cartridge version also exists and looks considerably better, but it’s specifically for MSX2 machines and takes advantage of the upgraded hardware. If you were a European gamer with an original MSX looking for some Pac-Mania action, this was your only choice and it was an absolutely great one.