Pacman Clones - Successful or Not?
Over the past three decades Pacman has had many variations, or clones - some were more successful than others. These were based on the same principles as the original Pacman, some with subtle changes and others which were only loosely based on the original character.
There are now Pacman games which have been adapted for use on mobile phones, iPhones and iPod Touch. Namco, the company who created the original Pacman arcade game, have information available regarding the phones and carriers which have the option to download Pacman games.
Well-known Pacman Clones
It has been said many times that "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery". Pacman had the majority of clones created in the early years after release in 1980. At that time there weren't home gaming machines or computers. During the 1980s simple games computers became available. Who (providing they are of a certain age) doesn't remember the Texas Instruments machine on which the player could play a version of tennis across the television screen - in black and white!
Things have progressed considerably in the last thirty years and it is fascinating to remember how much the children were absolutely delighted with their games.
A successful Pacman clone during the 1980s was 3-Damon which showed the game from Pacman's own perspective. The Power Pellets from the original game were moved from the corners of the room so that they covered the floor of the maze. The Ghosts were closer to the corners of the room, but no-one knew exactly where they would pop up.
During 1982 an obvious clone of Pacman was the Snack Attack which was designed for the Apple II customer. It was a pretty accurate copy of our hero, the original Pacman, including the Power Pellets and our friendly Monsters - well, Ghosts.
A variation on the Pacman game could be found in KC Munchkin. One of the main differences in this Pacman clone is the way that the Power Pellets actually move, whereas in the original the pellets were used as a means to an end in order to gain "thinking time" to catch the Ghosts. It also gave additional points to the enthusiastic game player trying to beat his own, or a friend's highest score.
The game had been released by Philips Videopak during 1981. Unfortunately, Atari sued Philips to stop them from marketing their version of the game anymore. After a successful appeal Atari won their case, so Philips had to withdraw their Munchkin from the market.
Universal Games released their version in 1981 and later ported it to Colecovision and Intellivision. Called Lady Bug, it replaced Pacman with a red insect and the Ghosts with nasty creepy-crawlies. There were other changes regarding the characters and variations to the methods of configuring the levels; however at the end of the day, as the objective was to finish with a dot-free maze it remained a Pacman clone.
While Pacxon is not a classic Pacman clone, it is an extremely popular version of the game, played by millions of arcade gamers every year.
Times and Fashions Change
Since Pacman was first released in 1980 there have been a great many Pacman Clones (Like Paxcon!), some more successful than others. There are now so many new games for computers and hand-held devices that the appetite for creating clones has waned.
Although many people like to hold on to the familiar - sometimes it is better to move away, to learn something new - an exciting prospect for everyone, including gamers.
There will always be new, improved games and if any of them have the longevity of Pacman their creators must be doing something right. Who will spot the new best game for 2012 or may it be a clone of another well-loved game which has been around for years?