PCZ ISSUE 115 - MAY 2002



If you haven’t wised up to the joys of Visual Pinball by now, viewers, you’re probably never going to. So Emulation Zone is going to let up on banging the drum for the superb pinball constructor/emulator for a bit, but we’re going out on a real high note. In one of the most impressive feats of emulation to date, VP and its sister program Visual PinMAME recently played host to a game which no-one ever expected to see emulated, and which seemed condemned to remain a vague and fading memory/myth until the end of gaming time.

Baby Pac-Man, released by Bally in 1982 at the height of the Pac-Man phenomenon (and slightly alarmingly subtitled “A Video Love Story”), was a hybrid videogame/pinball combination, a genre which would only ever see one other game (the same company’s Granny And The Gators, released the same year and currently also being reanimated via VP). Built in small numbers (just a few thousand were made) and achieving limited success, 99% of even the most veteran gamers and Pac-fans never saw one in the flesh, and almost no working examples survive today. 

But now, thanks to a small team of VP coders, Baby Pac-Man has been born again. Belying the cutesy theme, it’s a ferociously tough game. Baby Pac starts off in a maze populated by tougher-than-usual Pac-ghosts, and one which contains none of the table-turning power pills. To earn those, you have to “escape” through the tunnels at the bottom of the screen and onto the pinball playfield, where skillful shots will bring the crucial powerups into play whenever you lose the ball and are returned to the video screen.

The combination of styles makes Baby Pac-Man a compelling game, with the constant shifts between frantic maze-chasing and the more leisurely but crucially important pinball sections ensuring that you never have the chance to get bored. It’s a fascinating museum piece for would-be gaming historians, but more than that it’s just a damn good game, which was unfortunately just a bit too weird for the arcade-going public of its day. But now you, PC Zone readers, have a chance to put that right. Hurray for you.




A rare sighting of a real-life Baby Pac-Man.

Fill in the gaps in your Pac-history.



Heed the Silp.

One of the Playstation 2’s more underwhelming titles at its launch a year or so ago was Silpheed 2, a sequel to an on-rails shoot-‘em-up for the Sega’s catastrophic flop Mega CD system, which was itself a follow-up to a long-forgotten old PC DOS game from Sierra. Mildly amazingly, the PS2 title was not only a far worse game than its parent (indeed, it was probably less fun than the DOS version), but it was also technically less impressive. Mega CD Silpheed was a stunning game for its time, but it still looks great now, pitching the player into a massive space battle filled with gargantuan enemy ships being blown into thousands of tiny polygon pieces by massive lasers while your Silpheed fighter craft flits around them like a tiny bug.

Very much the predecessor of the Wing Commander/X-Wing series, the game can now be enjoyed via the superb Mega Drive emulator Gens, whose latest release offers fully-working Mega CD emulation for the first time. The MCD had precious few games worth emulating (about the only other one of note was Core Design’s Thunderhawk), but Silpheed is reason enough on its own.



(Left) Luckily, all those lasers aren’t aimed at you.


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