With the massive success that Namco and Midway managed to obtain with Pac-Man, it’s quite obvious that they’d try to milk it as much as possible with spinoffs, sequels, and other types of games in the franchise, with varying results. While some of these titles were quite engaging and successful in their own right, others never managed to rise to the level of the original and fell to the sidelines. Nevertheless, most of these classic Pac-Man games often had something unique to offer, and Baby Pac-Man might be the most outlandish of the bunch.
Combining the classic Pac-Man maze clearing formula with a pinball machine might seem a bit outlandish, but the folks at Midway managed to pull it off with Baby Pac-Man. Released in 1982, this game aimed to spice up the classic Pac-Man elements not by adding new things, or even a different theme, but by attaching a completely different game to it. In this sense, players would be clearing the mazes and eating ghosts to score points, while also occasionally falling to the pinball board where they could score extra points and even unlock upgrades.
If you’ve ever thought, “Man, this Pac-Man game is pretty good, but I wish it had more pinball!” then you’re in luck because this is exactly what Baby Pac-Man is about. And in this brief guide, we’re going to give you an overview of everything there is to do in this game.
This element requires no introduction at this point. The objective in the mazes is to eat all the pellets in order to proceed to the next stage. There are 3 different mazes in Baby Pac-Man and they cycle repeatedly until the player loses all their lives. As the stages progress, however, the difficulty increases by making the ghosts faster and, at a certain point, by also making the mazes’ inner walls invisible.
Regardless, in order to properly clear the mazes, the player will have to upgrade the Baby’s speed. Additionally, in order to boost their score, they will also need to upgrade the bonus items that frequently appear in the mazes. Both of these upgrades, along with a few others like scoring extra lives and earning power pellets, are achieved in the pinball section.
Keep in mind that the ghosts in this are much more aggressive than you might be used to, making them more relentless in chasing you down. Players will want to make sure that their Pac-Man skills are sharp before tackling this game, as otherwise it will be a little frustrating.
The Pinball Section
In order to access the pinball game, the player must drop through the tunnels located at the bottom of each of the mazes. The player will then be able to play the pinball game to unlock several bonuses as well as score extra points by interacting with the board’s various elements. To return to the maze, they must either land on the saucers on the top right and left of the screens after certain conditions are met, or let the ball fall through the flippers. However, if the player loses their ball down the flippers, the lower tunnels of the maze will become unavailable until they complete the current stage and proceed to the next one.
In this sense, players must make the best out of their trips to the pinball section as this is the only way to unlock upgrades and extra lives. These are some of the elements that you should keep an eye out for when playing the pinball section:
- (A): The 4 columns near the middle represent the power pellets. Every time you hit the drop targets above each column, a letter in the PAC-MAN text will light up. Once all 6 letters are activated, a power pellet will appear on the maze.
- (B): The center drop target on the top will cause one of the arrows in the center to light up. Once all 5 arrows are lit, the player gains an extra life. However, in order to make the center drop target appear, the player must first hit any of the other targets. Moreover, as more arrows are lit up, the center drop target will remain activated for less time.
- (C): For every time the player passes the ball through the leftmost lane, a letter in the word FRUITS will light up. Once all letters are lit, the bonus fruits in the maze will upgrade, giving more points if the Baby manages to eat them.
- (D): The rightmost lane functions similarly, only instead of fruits, the word is TUNNEL. Once all letters are lit up, the Baby’s speed is permanently increased, up to a maximum of 8 upgrades in total.
- (E) and (F): These two areas function as the proper exit of the pinball section. Landing in these saucers essentially has the same function as (C) and (D). However, if there is at least one of the PAC-MAN columns in (A) lit up, landing on the corresponding saucer will make the Baby emerge back on the maze through the respective lower tunnel. For instance, if the fourth PAC-MAN column from left to right is completely lit up, and the player lands in (F), they will emerge back on the maze through the rightmost lower tunnel.
- (G) and (H): The inner lanes on each side serve as equalizers for the power pill columns in (A). If a player passes through (G), then the values of the columns 1 and 2 will change to match the higher value, and the same goes for (H) regarding columns 3 and 4. For example, if a player passes through (G), and column 1 has one letter while column 2 has five, then column 1 will adjust to five letters. Meanwhile, if one of the columns is lit up, and the player passes on the inner lane of the respective side, then the other column will light up completely.
It goes without saying that the pinball section is one of the most important parts of the game, especially regarding the permanent speed boosts, which are basically mandatory in the latter mazes, since the ghosts will start moving very fast eventually. In this sense, the idea here is both to unlock upgrades, as well as earn power pellets and extra lives.
In order of importance, you should aim for the following in the pinball section:
Speed Upgrades (D) > Power Pills (A), (G), and (H) > Extra Lives (B) > Fruit Upgrades (C)
And remember that, once you have at least 1 power pellet column lit up, you can safely return to the maze by landing on the saucers in (E) or (F). If you fail and let the ball fall through the flippers, then you’ll be locked out of the pinball section until you clear the current maze.
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