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Video Game / Pac-Land

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Player Ready ! Trip 1

In 1985, one of the most famous platformers, Super Mario Bros., was released. It became one of the most important games in history, but few knew about the inspiration for it. Released in 1984, a year earlier, was a video game from the Pac-Man franchise titled Pac-Land.

It was the Trope Maker to the 2D platformer style of game. Partly created to tie-in with the Hanna-Barbera cartoon, the American version featured designs for characters based on the cartoon, with all versions also including the show's theme music. The Japanese version gave Pac-Man the appearance of previous games' arcade cabinets, but Ms. Pac-Man and Baby Pac were given original designs to match. The designs are still used to this day. By extension, it was the first game to have Pac-Man use his character artwork in-game. Most re-releases would be based on the Japanese version.

The story was very basic, as it depicted Pac-Man helping a lost fairy princess named Buttercup return to Fairy Land, with Pac-Man's ghostly enemies trying to get in the way. And this time, they've got an armada of vehicles.

Pac-Land, as a location, would continue to appear in later games such as Pac-in-Time and Pac-Man World 2. The game also served as the inspiration for some of Pac-Man's moves and a stage in the Super Smash Bros. series.

This game provides examples of:

  • 1-Up: Trope Maker of the collectible kind, Special Pacs appear if Pac-Man uses the hover boots above a certain location.
  • Adapted Out:
    • The Mother Fairy makes no appearance in the Famicom version. Instead, the trees display the words "Fairy Land" and a few fairies appear. Pac-Man's family is nowhere to be seen either.
    • In the Arcade Archives version, Ms. Pac-Man and Pac-Baby are replaced by Pac-Mom and Pac-Sis, a pair of suspiciously similar substitutes created to circumvent legal issues surrounding the Pac-Man games created by Midway.
  • All There in the Manual: The Atari Lynx port's manual states that the fairy Pac-Man is helping is one individual, a fairy princess named Buttercup. This is never brought up in-game. In the Japanese material, the fairies are nameless, and it's suggested that Pac-Man is saving a different fairy on each trip.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: If you die to a small obstacle, the game will respawn you ahead of the obstacle you died to. Ditto for bodies of water, where you respawn right at the beginning of the lake to re-attempt the jump.
  • Arcade-Perfect Port: The Sharp X68000 and the Namco Museum Vol. 4 versions, which are effectively straight ports of the Japanese arcade version, credits and all. The TurboGrafx port has all of the content of the arcade version, but adds extra features, like cutscenes and a proper ending.
  • A Winner Is You: The ending to the TurboGrafx version. It's the cast of the game waving to the player before the words "The End" appear.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: To break up the pacing of platforming, the mansion levels have labyrinth-like areas where Pac-Man has to locate and use keys to open doors to progress. It's also the only time where the ghosts aren't using any of the vehicles to hunt down the Pac but are instead freely lurking around and there are no Power Pellets in sight to make Pac-Man fend any of them off. In the higher difficulty versions of this stage it's also darkened making it harder to actually see where Pac-Man is going as well. Can't have a mansion-themed level without ghosts right?
  • Big Good: The Mother Fairy.
  • Bowdlerise: The building Pac-Man passes by at Break Time spots is a Christian church in Japan, but the cross is taken down for the American version. Being based on the Japanese version, the Namco Museum Vol. 4 Compilation Rerelease of Pac-Land brings the cross back. In all releases of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the cross is removed again for the Pac-Land stage. The Arcade Archives version also removes the cross, despite otherwise being based on the Japanese version of the game.
  • The Cameo:
    • In-game, Ms. Pac-Man and Pac-Baby would greet Pac-Man whenever he arrives home. Chomp Chomp and Sour Puss also appear, but only in the American version. And just as in the first game, the Galaxian ship makes an appearance, rarely being dropped by the Ghosts (with its signature flying pattern) and can be eaten for points.
    • On the Japanese arcade flyer, Mappy can be seen chasing Goro through Pac-Town and a Pooka can be seen peeking out of the ground next to where Inky is digging a hole on the right-most part of the flyer.
  • Car Fu: One of many ways the ghosts will try to defeat you.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Though fairies have become a recurring sight in the Pac-Man series, the Mother Fairy only appears in this game and makes no other appearances outside of its ports and re-releases.
  • Cranium Ride: Funnily enough, you can actually jump and simply stand right on top of the ghosts' heads without even dying somehow despite the fact that he'll lose a life if he comes in direct contact with them. There's even a level in the game where there's a huge lake to traverse over, but the springboard isn't even present. In order to fully progress, Pac-Man will have to hop on one of the ghosts that are using biplanes who will unintentionally hitch him a ride. For that matter, none of them seem to even bothered to make the effort of getting Pac-Man off of them for no reason whatsoever.
  • Crossing the Desert: The desert levels are mainly just stretched out sections of land where there are some cacti seen for Pac-Man to usually jump over. At times, there's even lakes in front of him, and he'll lose a life if he falls into them. Thankfully, springboards are there for him to completely jump across.
  • Dead Hat Shot: Anytime when Pac-Man plummets into a bottomless pit or sinks into a vat of quicksand his hat is the only remaining thing that's visible.
  • Death from Above: Ghosts in planes will drop mini ghosts from above. They can be eaten after a Power-Pellet, but also by wearing a helmet.
  • Death Mountain: The mountainous levels are among the hardest sections in the game, especially for first-time players. There are rows of levitating logs that behave like wooden conveyer belts since standing on them will shift Pac-Man in the opposite direction, the ghosts are constantly swarming around in their biplanes and will actually swoop down onto Pac-Man unexpectedly, and of course, there are bottomless pits below to make the situation even more nerve-wrecking than it has any right to be.
  • Death Throws: Highly inverted. Whenever Pac-Man dies after getting hit by a ghost, rather than falling off the stage, his death animation displays him slowly falling to the ground while he's clenching his eyes in an over-the-top dramatic fashion, almost as if he's in nothing but pure agony while his hat is knocked off of him.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Not necessarily for the Pac-Man series, but for Platform Games in general. Instead of using a joystick or directional pad to move and a button to jump, Pac-Land has two separate buttons for walking right and left, as well as a jump button. Because of this, several ports of the game use a control setup where the face buttons make Pac-Man move and the directional pad makes him jump. It can take some time to adjust to, and later ports offer an alternative option to use more standard controls.
  • Endless Game: Like the maze games, the game will keep going until the player dies. That said, there are several layouts for platforming, though after Trip 8 each Trip afterwards is just Trips 5-8 again but with the ghosts moving faster and the timer running out sooner. Averted in the TurboGrafx version, however, which has an ending that is shown after completing Trip 8.
  • For the Evulz: The ghosts have nothing to gain from preventing Buttercup from getting to Fairy Land. They just want to beat Pac-Man.
  • Flying Saucer: The ghosts somehow got some.
  • Guide Dang It!: The Famicom version does not contain the cutscene where Pac-Man returns Buttercup and obtains the Wing Boots. First time players may not know that Pac-Man now has a multi-jump.
  • Hydrant Geyser: In later rounds of the town levels, some of the fire hydrants will spew bullets of water at Pac-Man that can accidentally shove him into one of the ghosts if the player doesn't jump in time. The upside of this is standing on top of them. Doing so will make the hydrant shoot water underneath Pac-Man by elevating him high enough to reach to the rooftops of the town and can run on top of them, making it far easier to avoid the ghosts.
  • In a Single Bound:
    • After returning Buttercup to her mother, she gifts Pac-Man with magic boots that allow him to keep jumping in mid-air. Helps to get Pac-Man get back home before time runs out.
    • Trampolines sometimes appear to help Pac-Man cross long gaps. Aside from timing the jump properly, the player also has to mash the jump button to make him "float" on his descent.
  • Invincibility Power-Up: The classic Power Pellet returns. This time, the ghosts are much easier to eat as they are far slower.
  • New Game Plus: Completing the TurboGrafx version unlocks Pac-Land Pro, which is basically a harder version of the game where the ghosts are more aggressive.
  • Nintendo Hard: Similar to Super Mario Bros., the early levels are a cakewalk before ramping up considerably in difficulty. The later Trips especially, as the ghost get faster and tend to ambush Pac-Man with little wiggle room, in addition to some tricky precision platforming segments that have you juggle dodging ghosts with avoiding bottomless chasms or bodies of water. After Trip 8, the game just repeats Trips 5-8 again but with the ghosts getting more aggressive and the timer running out faster.
  • Object-Shaped Landmass: The titular island of is depicted as a circle with a missing slice (resembling Pac-Man's usual form), while the neighboring Ghost Island is shaped like a ghost.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: It only takes one hit for Pac-Man to die.
  • Perpetual Frowner: In this game, Blinky has a forlorn and gloomy face compared to his other fellow ghosts, especially Clyde, as he has more of an aggressive looking expression. Their facial expressions are more apparent in the ending for the TurboGrafx-16 version. Since this game is heavily based on the Hanna-Barbera cartoon, it makes sense why their personalities are strikingly different.
  • Platform Game: A Trope Codifier, and in fact the inspiration behind Super Mario Bros..
  • Power-Up:
    • The classic Power Pellet.
    • A helmet is obtained by pushing a random object, and protects Pac-Man from miniature ghosts. It is lost upon dying, finishing a return home, or running out of time.
    • Wing shoes are automatically obtained when they are given to Pac-Man by the Mother Fairy.
    • Becoming invisible also grants Pac-Man the power of Intangibility, which basically makes him outright invulnerable to the Ghost Gang... For a short time.
  • Quicksand Sucks: Another way for Pac-Man to die is him getting pulled in by quicksand in the desert stages. However the skulls themselves seem to activate the quicksand whenever he gets closer to them.
  • Scoring Points: Obtained in all kinds of ways such as fruit, balloons, eating ghosts, signs, and the time bonus.
  • Shifting Sand Land: Some of the levels take place in the desert, complete with cacti and quicksand!
  • Shout-Out: A few on the the Japanese arcade flyer, none of the moments appearing in the game proper:
  • The Smurfette Principle: The only female ghost is Sue, who chases Pac-Man from behind. (Pinky is male here, like in the cartoon, since her gender wasn't set in stone until the '90s.)
  • Spring Coil: Perhaps the silliest "vehicle" the ghosts use against you is the incredibly bouncy pogo-stick.
  • Stalked by the Bell: Sue is constantly chasing Pac-Man, acting as a reason to keep him moving. However, like the other ghosts, she can be avoided and even eaten with a Power Pellet. Each segment also has a "soft" timer (represented by several Pac-Man icons doing a slower dying animation from the first game). If Pac-Man doesn't finish the current segment before the timer expires, Sue will become a lot more aggressive; it's still possible to win, but much more difficult. When a segment is cleared, the remaining time is converted into points; the Lucky Pac item does the same thing while also resetting the timer.
  • Super Drowning Skills: Failure to jump over the large bodies of water Pac-Man encounters will cost you a life.
  • Triumphant Reprise: The trip back includes a more triumphant version of the main level theme.
  • Visible Invisibility: One power-up will make Pac-Man become a translucent outline of himself, basically making him invisible where he can still be seen, but he's unable to be detected by the ghosts at all.
  • Warp Zone: On Round 2, pushing a certain tree stump warps the player all the way to the beginning of Trip 3 (only works in the Arcade and Lynx versions).
  • Water-Geyser Volley: Like the fire hydrants in the town stages, the geysers that are shown in the bridge levels can either give an elevating boost to Pac-Man to advance through higher sections of the bridges or they'll just drag him into the water below.