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Pac-Clone 2
(Nuno Freire)

"Purpose given, freedom trapped, level packed"

Is Pac-Man an analogy for the monotony of life? Imagine how it would be like to be born a mindless clone, whose only purpose in life is to gather pills before you're taken away by the evil ghost "Keeper". Is there a way to make entertainment out of your struggle for individuality? Nuno Freire believes that there is.

In Pac-Clone 2 you play one of the slave clones, trapped in three levels of pill-snatching. You must free yourself from imprisonment before the Keeper destroys you, but do you have the skill to avoid the ghost and capture enough pills? The only way to know is to to try...

Graphics (n.)
The use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
Instead of opting for full-screen mazes, Nuno Freire put Pac-Clone in the middle of a tileset, perhaps to distinguish Pac-Clone 2 from other QB Pac-Man inspired games. At first glance this seems like a great idea; the tiles in Pac-Clone 2 were really spruced up to give the game a really slick look.

The only problem with tilesets in a Pac-Man game is that you inevitably run out of space on the screen before you can create a truly complex map. Nuno's remedy for this situation is to include an auto-map feature on the bottom right of the screen, reserving the middle of the screen for Pac-Clone's tile-scrolling area. It's this tile-scrolling map, which is a little on the herky-jerky side, that gets in the way of appreciating Pac-Clone 2's polished graphics.

Sound/Music (n.)
The smooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
Pac-Clone 2 supports PC speaker sounds, but the only sound effect in the game is the sound Pac-Clone makes whenever he swallows a pill (which even then is just a low-pitched beeping noise). This pinch of sound effects isn't much, but it does help the game because it gives the ears something to utilize.
Gameplay (n.)The precision of control and involvement of character within its universe v
Anyone familiar with the Atari or Nintendo version of Pac-Man may not necessarily feel at home with the gameplay of Pac-Clone 2, though some of the essentials of a Pac-Man style game are included. Each level of Pac-Clone 2 begins with a yellow, round "clone" at the center of a maze. The maze is lined with pills; eat all of the pills in the maze and you move on to the next level.

Getting around the maze is the easy part. The problem is, there's a ghost keeper roaming about the maze, trying to prevent you from getting all the pills by eating you alive. Now here's the twist: there's no way you can hurt the ghost keeper! There are no power-ups in the maze that will allow you to eat the keeper, and your only option is to run and run like mad. Unlike its predecessors, Pac-Clone 2 doesn't come with scoring either. The game ends when your clone has eaten all the pills in the game's three levels.

The bad news about these modifications is that most Pac-Man professionals don't need to change the way they play to beat Pac-Clone 2. In fact, gameplay feels more limited since Pac-Clone's only option is to evade enemy attack. The controls also take a while to get used to, since the action takes place on a tile-scrolling background.

Story (n.)
The creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
Because of the extra attention to the game's Intro and ending, story is clearly Pac-Clone 2's strength. Instead of simply taking you straight to the Arcade action, Nuno has a story option which gives an explanation of the clones, the ghost keepers, and why Pac-Clone must capture pills. In effect, this extra investment gives Pac-Clone 2 something that very few QB arcade games have: a plot. There's even an ending in Pac-Clone 2, which is really unorthodox for an QB arcade game. This finishing touch really reminded me of the cartoons from the good old Namco pre-Tekken days.
Replay Value (n.)
The timelessness of the gamer's delight, such that the experience can be repeated again and again
Without having the ability to attack the enemy, the hero Pac-Clone must utilize dodging skills a lot more than in any other Pac-Man game. In fact, it's almost as if Pac-Clone 2 more accurately captures the feel of American Football than Pac-Man. Perhaps a little more action and interactivity in this Pac-Man clone would help give the game more replay value.
Challenge (v.)
To strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought and reflexes
Average. The mazes in Pac-Clone 2 are not that complicated, and a nifty map feature lets you find the extra pills you need to capture quickly. The real challenge is trying to elude the ghost keeper. Depending on the skill level you choose (Dumb or Smart), this Keeper can be a nightmare or a mere nuisance to avoid.

The key to winning Pac-Clone 2 in the Smart skill level is persistence. Don't try capturing all the pills as you take your first lap around the maze because you'll give the Keeper plenty of time to track you down. But, if you take a few strolls around the maze while strategically catching some pills in each turnaround, you'll eventually tire the keeper down before you lose patience.

Fun Factor (n.)
The overall entertainment value as maintained throughout the adventure
(Very Poor) What Pac-Clone 2 really breaks down to is a modified version of the original Atari 2600 Pac-Man where the player is a little weaker and the enemy's a little stronger. Only one keeper follows you around the maze, but your enemy's special ability of teleporting through walls puts you at a definite handicap. Double that with the fact that Pac-Clone must always run from the enemy (there are no power pellets to save you now!) and what you have is a Pac-Man clone where it's surely more fun to play the bad guy than the good guy.

Despite Pac-Clone's shortcomings in terms of power-ups, the game itself does have its sense of fairness. The keeper isn't so fast that he runs over you. You just have to be a little nimble to get all the pills in each stage. Will Pac-Clone 2 test your reflexes on "Smart" mode? Definitely. But the challenge could've been a little more fun.

Players 1 player Genre: Arcade Game
Rating To solve: 1 hour Final Rating: 9/35

To download this game, click here.
Installation Tips
wIf you're unzipping this program in DOS, use the -d option.
wTo play Pac-Clone 2, unzip the file and run "PACCLON2.EXE".

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