Pac-Pix was one of the earliest games released for the Nintendo DS. In fact, it was one of the first tech demos shown for the ugly-as-hell DS prototype at E3 2004. The core mechanic of drawing Pac-Man to chomp on ghosts has always intrigued me, but at the time, I was more drawn to Pac ‘n Roll due to its polygonal graphics. It wasn’t until this past week that I finally picked up a copy of Pac-Pix and devoted a few hours to completing it. I was happy to discover that its primary gimmick was well-implemented, despite some annoyances.
Reigning as one of the most identifiable characters in all of video games, drawing Pac-Man was a simple task. Personally, that meant it was a simple task that often resulted in a malformed Pac-Man as I’m no artist. Nonetheless, the game was forgiving. As long as the circle had a divot missing (representing his mouth) Pac-Man would form and chomp away in a straight line. Drawing walls allowed him to ricochet around and stay in play. In the later stages, the ability to draw arrows and bombs was added to increase the depth of mechanics, as well as the difficulty.
Composed of twelve stages, the game only took me a few hours to complete. However, the final few stages were very difficult. On the top screen in these later stages, many ghosts and switches resided. Hitting them to drop them down or activate a flame or door required ever more precision on my part. Perhaps the precision required made me a little sloppy, but many times my drawings wouldn’t be recognized and therefore, wouldn’t come to life. This grew frustrating and made me question the quality of the game’s recognition abilities. I was able to overcome though so they weren’t completely busted, just annoying on the harder stages.
Even today, nine years after its 2005 release, I think Pac-Pix is one of the more unique games on the Nintendo DS. It’s a simple game with little to its mechanics, but they are well-implemented. A second book was unlocked after beating the game, and it seems to be a repeat of the first book, with tougher enemies. All told, it’d be easy to spend a day with the game and not return to it, but it’s a fun diversion that makes interesting use of the DS.