Manufactured by Bally Midway in 1983, Jr. Pac-Man is another sequel to the smash hit, dot-eating maze game, Pac-Man, created by Namco in 1980.
Legend has it that Namco didn’t have any involvement in the development of Jr. Pac-Man or Ms. Pac-Man, and apparently they were not happy about that. Understandable really. Which led to the termination of the licensing agreement between Bally Midway and Namco, and of Namco tightening its grip on the Intellectual Property on Pac-Man (and which was rightly theirs).
Jr. Pac-Man – as a video game – is still great fun to play, though. For all of Bally Midway‘s nefarious use of the Namco IP, they at least knew intimately what made Pac-Man tick, and kept the series going with some innovative new ideas.
In this one the mazes actually scroll left and right and are around twice the width of the actual screen (which does make you wonder why they used such a vertical screen configuration for the arcade cabinet, but then this was only 1983 and we were all stupid back then).
Power pills are now found deeper within the maze, and there don’t seem to be any warp tubes in this, that take you from one side of the maze to the other. Not that I saw anyway.
Bonus items move around the maze randomly and any dots they move over increase in size. If Jr. Pac-Man eats these larger dots he gets fifty points, instead of the usual ten. The caveat being: eating the larger dots slows him down.
The ghosts don’t seem quite as psychotic as there were in Ms. Pac-Man, but they’re still not to be trifled with, and they still have slightly differing behaviours so that – combined – it is hard to judge their move patterns.
The new font doesn’t do the game any favours, but otherwise this is a solid addition to the Pac-Man series. Whether it’s ‘official’ or not is open to debate.
More: Jr. Pac-Man on Wikipedia