LGR – Paku Paku – DOS PC Game Review

[typing] [whoosh] Well, today we’ve got something a little
bit different here on Lazy Game Reviews and that is an MS-DOS game made this year. Yes, this is the year 2011,
just in case you were not aware, and who would’ve thunk, thought, believed, that games for MS-DOS were still being created. Apparently Jason M. Knight did not get the memo that people don’t make DOS games anymore, and he was awesome enough to develop this game. Of course, the game we’re
talking about here is Paku Paku, and initially it looks like just another Pac-Man clone. And… well, that’s really exactly what it is. As far as gameplay goes, it is just Pac-Man. No weird gameplay tweaks, nothing like that. It is a yellow thing eating dots and pills and ghosts and fruit involved in, you know… It’s Pac-Man, baby! But what sets this apart is a couple things. For one, it’s a public domain game and its source code has also been released, it was developed this year and it uses some very, very interesting graphical tweaks to accomplish what you’re seeing here. See, what you may not realize is
that you are looking at a CGA game capable of running on an original IBM 5150 PC. Yes, that same old ugly, four-color CGA that
resulted in games normally looking like this, or this, is resulting in a game that looks like this, and that is nothing short of amazing. Especially for the speed it’s running at, how smooth it is. And of course, the sound that’s going along with it. I mean, this is impressive if you know even a little bit about
what is going on behind the scenes. Now I’m no graphical expert,
but I do have eyes and a brain that can see colors rather well, and normally when I see CGA,
it looks debatably pretty ugly. Most often, you’re going to be seeing
320×200 resolution at four colors, with some variation of the color
palette that looks like warm colors or cool colors, as I like to call them. This was the normal graphics mode that most
games used when they used CGA graphics. However, CGA also had a
couple of text modes available. Now this was normally used to display text. You know, stuff like any kind of early
text editors or boring crap like that. The one that’s being used here is the 80-column mode, so that is an 80×25 resolution text mode. However, instead of giving each line eight pixels, it gives each line two pixels, which quadruples the number of lines available to 100. And it then uses a couple of characters
from the extended ASCII character set and uses symbols that fill in the
left or right half of a character, so really you’re only playing with partial characters. And then you can actually turn each
character effectively into two pixels, which results in a 160×100 resolution display. And since it’s using this text display in a tweaked mode, it can also access the text
display’s 16 colors all at once, instead of the usual four. Now this results in a really impressive look to the game, and it’s kind of chunky and kind of endearing. I don’t know why, but I really like
this tweaked CGA graphics mode, and there are very, very few games that do this. In fact, the only other one that
I can think of off the top of my head is Round 42. Paku Paku also boasts some
impressive sound capabilities, which are quite convincing and pretty
accurate to the arcade sound effects in all their really, really annoying glory. It makes use of, of course, the PC speaker, but also the PCjr three-voice sound as well as the Tandy, which is really the same thing, and AdLib FM sound, as well as OPL
sound if you have a Sound Blaster. It also has some support for the
Creative Music System or Game Blaster, which the author seems to recommend, but the thing is, it only seems to work in DOSBox for me. I have a CMS or Game Blaster– well, really those chips installed on a Sound Blaster 1.5, and I have not been able to get that sound to work at all. Even when applying the specific hex values to the game through command line switches, it still doesn’t work at all. So I don’t know if it only works
on real Game Blasters or what. I, I don’t know. So I normally just end up using AdLib. And, yeah, that’s really about it for Paku Paku. The gameplay is exactly what
you would expect from Pac-Man. You go around, you eat the dots, you collect a fruit, you got through the little portals
on the side and everything. It’s all there. The musical ditties, the annoying “wehr-wehr-
wehr-wehr” sound in the background, and, uh, all the fruit, all the level changes, the speeding up, the flashing at the end of the game. It’s there, it’s Pac-Man, and it’s really, really well done. It’s easily the best version of
Pac-Man I’ve seen on MS-DOS. Normal four-color CGA looks
like garbage in comparison. I’m sorry, Atarisoft, but your version
has just been ousted, in my opinion. And you can download it from a variety of locations. I’ll put ’em in the video description below and also on my blog and whatever
else I happen to post this on. The most simple place to find it is classicdosgames.com. Of course, you also might want
to visit Jason Knight’s blog which he has information about the game posted. I’ll put a link to that down below, too. And that is Paku Paku. where you don’t just play any man, you play a man of the Pac variety. A Pac-Man. Although, of course, due to legal issues,
he cannot be called that, so forget I said anything. Paku Paku by Jason Knight. It’s awesome. [Pac-Man jingle]

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