We don't often review clones, but a few stand out as serious efforts that can't and shouldn't be ignored due to their own creative innovations and design merits. One of the best examples of this has to be Deluxe Pacman by Edgar Vigdal
Having grown up a huge fan of Pacman (as well as Galaga) Edgar couldn't resist taking the game to the next level when he got his hands on an Amiga.
The game itself is quickly recognizable and easy to play. Edgar's awesome twist to the gameplay is the introduction of special power-ups as well as bonus levels. Pacman is generally about two main things: simply surviving and getting a high score. Every so often a bonus fruit will appear below the ghosts' house which can be eaten for extra points. In Deluxe Pacman, you get a mix between special short-term power-ups like shields or speed boosts. But you can also gobble up and use weapons like dynamite, which kills all of the ghosts at once, a gun to shoot the ghosts (using the joystick fire button!), a pot of glue to slow them down, and ice to freeze them in tracks. You still can't touch them, but they can't chase you for a little while.
It's as if Edgar took the idea of Arkanoid (a beefed up and more exciting version of Breakout) and applied the same mechanics to Pacman. And it totally works.
In addition to these special powers, there is also a level randomizer "fruit". If you gobble it, you can get thrown a few to several levels ahead of where you were.
In addition, there are fruits in the form of letters that spell the word "EXTRA". If you eat all 5 letters, you can be taken to a bonus round filled with pellets but no walls - but still ghosts all chasing you. If you manage to eat every dot and not die, you can get a massive point reward (e.g. 50,000). And it's not as easy as it sounds, but it is a lot of fun.
All of Edgars ideas work really well and Deluxe Pacman is almost instantly addictive and hard to put down. However, it isn't perfect.
The AI for the ghosts is noticeably inferior to the original Pacman. Eating a power pill doesn't make them always run away from you to avoid being eaten, which feels a bit odd. The sound effects pale in comparison to the original arcade sounds. Also, the mazes are painfully small because the characters are drawn at very large sizes. Had Pacman and the ghosts been reduced by 50%, they would have felt much more "normal" and the mazes could have had the potential to be slightly more creative. Lastly, the increased detail on the characters isn't "pretty". This is purely a subjective opinion, but seeing large noses on the ghosts felt distracting and a bit grotesque.
That all being said, Deluxe Pacman is absolutely a blast to play.
Note: This review is of the ECS version for WHDLoad. There is also an AGA version available.
It was during the research of this review that we learned the sad news that Edgar passed away on April 1, 2015, of cancer. His huge following of fans he earned along the way is a testament to the love and craft he put into his games and the Amiga platform.