Retro Coin Op Synopsis
The Pac family tree is a confusing one. Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man are easy enough to figure out, and we can only assume that the two of them are responsible for Baby Pac-Man. But then things get muddled… Super Pac-Man, Professor Pac-Man and this little fella, Jr. Pac-Man. Is this Baby all grown up? Another Pac offspring? The world may never know.
Here’s what we do know about Jr. Pac-Man: After two unsuccessful attempts to expand the Pac franchise beyond the standard chomping format—1982’s pinball hybrid Baby Pac-Man and the 1983 trivia game Professor Pac-Man—Bally Midway decided it was time to return to the game’s roots. Jr. Pac-Man reintroduced the maze/ghost/dot theme, but it only took one glance at the screen to tell that a few major changes had been made.
Jr. Pac-Man’s seven mazes were roughly twice as wide as those of Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man. Since the size of the screen hadn’t changed, only half the maze was visible at any one time, and the action scrolled to follow the title character. Junior (distinguishable by his propeller hat) still romped around the maze, chomping power pellets while avoiding the evil ghosts Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Tim (the latter was a dead ringer for Clyde), but not all power pellets were created equal.
Instead of the fruits and other tasty bonus treats of the original two games, Junior was rewarded with balloons, drums, tricycles, cats and other kiddie playthings. But as these items bounced around the maze (a la Ms. Pac-Man), every dot they touched turned into a larger, more potent dot. These super-pellets were worth five times the points of their smaller cousins, but they also came with a cost. Every time Junior ate one of these enhanced power pellets, he was slowed down, making him an easier target for the ghosts.
Since the maze was larger, the programmers added a few extra energy dots (the big yellow ones that turned all the ghosts to an edible blue), but there were no side tunnels for an easy escape. The energy dots were also extremely unstable. One touch from the bouncing bonus items, and that dot would be lost forever.
Like the earlier Pac-Man games, Jr. Pac-Man entertained players with animated intermissions between levels. These brief vignettes introduced a new baby ghost, Yum-Yum, and even introduced the possibility of a little star-crossed romance. Could the long feud at last be over? If so, the truce didn’t last long, as the sequels Pac & Pal, Pac-Land and Pac-Mania attest.
Jr. Pac-Man had a nice mix of tradition and innovation, but it also had an unfortunate case of bad timing. Like many of his contemporaries, Junior was a casualty of the great video game crash, and even the Pac family name wasn’t enough to earn this worthy sequel the success it deserved.
Arcade Machine Release History1980 - Pac-Man
1981 - Ms. Pac-Man
1982 - Super Pac-Man
1982 - Pac-Man Plus
1982 - Baby Pac-Man
1983 - Professor Pac-Man
1983 - Jr. Pac-Man
1983 - Pac & Pal
1984 - Pac-Land
1987 - Pac-Mania
1996 - Pac-Man V R