Tag Archives: Pac-Man

REVIEW: Cops N Robbers

Let us assume for a moment that you’ve been playing games all your life, and, for some reason or another (too young to remember, cloistered existence, there’s genres other than first-person shooters?, etc.), you’ve never played Pac-Man in one of its gazillion iterations. If so, then here. Also if so, then Aeternus Studios has a hell of a deal for you. Cops N Robbers (80 MSP) assumes your ignorance, and gives you one substandard take on the Namco classic.

Cops N Robbers - Screen

It dresses it up some, though it’s the same pellet-eating idea under a criminal versus police coat of paint. You’re behind the robber’s wheels, of course, being pursued as you scoop up the gold (pellets) in each level and do your best to keep a few walls between you and the authorities. To aid in escape, there’s a dynamite powerup that functions as a landmine and is vital to staving off capture.

Successive stages up the ante, adding a more aggressive police presence and trickier collection routes. You can find yourself stuck behind slow drivers that either outright block your progress, or funnel you into the cops’ waiting cuffs. As someone that travels the Illinois Tollway on a daily basis, constantly being cut-off by cars and shoehorned behind slow drivers simply for being in a ‘work truck’, that part’s particularly not fun. I hardly hoped to see it recreated in videogame form, yet here it is, coupled with potholes that can slow your vehicle and prove equally frustrating.

Thankfully, the police can be ‘bought off’ temporarily by collecting dollar signs within the level (taking the place of the ghost-making powerups in the original). So, wait, let’s do the math. A crappy road system and corrupt law enforcement? Add inept politicians, future bankruptcy due to an out-of-control pension situation, and an embarrassing homicide rate that’s the shame of the nation, and Cops N Robbers is almost exactly like living and driving in Illinois!

Cops N Robbers - Screen2

There’s admittedly some nostalgia that arises from playing the game, though Aeternus Studios squanders that in its execution of the classic cat-and-mouse gameplay. Part of the charm in Pac-Man was its simplicity, tight corridors that stressed careful use and planning of the powerup. Cops N Robbers offers that on the surface, but needlessly complex and aggravating level designs (starting from the third stage on) keep it from finding a consistent rhythm. The scattered layouts make not only collection a chore, but the driving itself, with you getting stuck on plenty of corners and missing turns, leading to cheap ‘busts’, i.e. lost lives.

Cops N Robbers is a reskinned take on Pac-Man with almost nothing new to say about it. It functions well enough for what’s required of an arcade game, though it’s all borrowed ideas. Were this still 1980, it’d be an instant classic. But it’s not, so instead it’s a second-rate copy.

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REVIEW: Chompy Chomp Chomp

“Build me a better Pac-Man!” I shouted, to anyone that would listen. I did this at my most desperate hour and at the top of a hill overlooking the sleeping city, as this was how I’d seen it done successfully in the last act of rom-com movies, so it had to work. Not that Pac-Man needs my dramatics or an update; turning on one’s enemies and devouring them whole is still one of the eternal ideas of gaming. If it ain’t broke, why the hell is the plumber here don’t fix it, and Chompy Chomp Chomp (80 MSP) only tweaks that formula, for the better.

Due to impeccable timing (and perhaps destiny), this review is coming fresh off an update to the game that adds some sought-after bits and fixes some flaws, including A.I. re-balancing and the option to toggle on / off powerups. The most noticeable and welcome of the update gifts is the now few seconds of invulnerability after respawn (thank you, Utopian World of Sandwiches, and also for that sweet moniker).

The idea: four Chompys enter an arena… and four Chompys leave. What? It’s family-friendly. Each of you represents a color, and a target shadow below you indicates whom to chomp. What follows is mostly-controlled chaos, rainbow-colored Chompy binge-eating, timed or by score limit. During the battle, offensive and defensive options pop up on the board, as well as fruit / score multipliers (vital to victory, trust me) and poison to slow you down or reverse controls (grrrrr). After some time, you get a warning tick down, followed by a color switch, and everyone gets a new target. Cue more fun.

It’s all at once parts of Pac-Man and Assassin’s Creed‘s multiplayer, with you and others cat-and-mousing it across various stage boards (with three variations apiece), powerups often determining whether you’re lunch or wearing the leader’s crown. Initially it’s frantic and a bit confusing, but after a few primer rounds, you’ll find it’s incredibly simple (the best arcade-likes usually are) and addicting, even offline versus bots. Though I’d imagine the real mileage will come from breaking this out amongst friends or against online competition. I can’t vouch for online (didn’t find any matches) but two-player local did the trick just as well, if not better (you can’t slap people over Xbox Live).

What it lacks in variety, it makes up for in pick-up-and-playability. Also, while just clean aesthetics and gorgeous menus won’t bring the boys to the yard, they do accent the level of polish present throughout CCC, and are deserving of a mention.

There wasn’t a single time I didn’t panic when my would-be assassin was closing in, controller shaking at the inevitability, nor any round I played that I wasn’t smiling or thoroughly enjoyingChompy Chomp Chomp is an absolute blast to sample, a sublime arcade experience that really shines once four people get together, locally or via the wonderment that is the internets. Congrats to ‘Sandwiches and welcome to the leaderboard, guys and gal.