“Amiga” Means “Friend,” Not Girlfriend, You Twit — That’s “Novia”
I do believe I’ve mentioned my computer history on this blog before, but just in case I didn’t, or in case you’re a new reader, here’s my story. For an 8th grade graduation present in 1988, I received a Commodore 64C. Early in my college life, probably 1993, I upgraded to an Amiga 600, which, to be honest, was basically an Amiga 500 with a newer operating system and in a smaller case, but I still loved that thing. Eventually I upgraded to an Amiga 4000, and then when the next-generation PowerPC-based Amiga systems came out, I got a µAmiga1-C, the latest in the “AmigaOne” line. That machine was amazing: an Amiga running at current PC speeds! Apps would load instantly. The graphics were much brighter and higher resolution than what I was used to with the “classic” Amiga models. Sadly, due to various circumstances, I had to part with the µAmiga1-C in 2006…yes, my loyalty with Amiga lasted 13 years.
The following year, around Christmas, I decided I needed to get back into the Amiga world. Unfortunately, there were no AmigaOnes available, nor had there been for a long time. (When I sold my µAmiga1-C, I made about $300 more than what I actually paid for it because the systems were in very high demand.) But I really wanted some kind of non-Windows computer. I had done a little bit of freelance computer repair here and there, and I’d be frequently asked if I did Macs as well. I decided I might as well learn the Mac, so I bought a MacBook right after Christmas. What can I say? I was instantly hooked. I thought I’d never look back on the Amiga again.
Except, well, there are a couple of things I miss about the Amiga. For one thing, Directory Opus (and its later incarnation Directory Opus Magellan) is one of the finest apps ever made, but unfortunately I could not find an equivalent for Mac OSX. And more recently, the memories of playing Edgar Vigdal’s “Deluxe” games — Deluxe Galaga and Deluxe Pac-Man — really made me miss my old Amigas.
This Game Sucks (Or Does It?)
I first encountered Deluxe Pac-Man at a swap party hosted by the sysop of a local Amiga BBS. When I saw this title in the sysop’s software collection, I immediately had to try it out. And you know what? I hated it. HATED it. The Pac-Man and ghost sprites were so huge. The maze was too basic. And I’m sure that I was using the mouse as a controller didn’t help any. After I expressed my disgust with this ostentatious yet unplayable port, people actually laughed at me for not liking it.
And those who attended the party wouldn’t let me hear the end of it for at least a week on the BBS. I gave in and downloaded the game and tried it again (and this time with an Atari 2600 joystick). And…you know what? I liked it. No, wait…I loved it. I don’t know what changed my mind. Maybe that the controls were more sane on a joystick. Maybe it’s that I was playing it in my own bedroom without the distraction of partygoers. Or maybe I didn’t like it instantly but somehow got sucked in.
Deluxe Pac-Man Means Deluxe Play
Now…as for the game play, to be honest, I’m going completely by memory, so some details might be fuzzy or even perhaps inaccurate.
It’s just like any other Pac-Man game: you control Pac-Man, who moves around the maze attempting to eat all the dots but is chased by four ghosts, whom he can eat after swallowing an energizer. There are bonus prizes that appear at various times.
Of course, because this is “deluxe” Pac-Man, there are some differences from the Namco classic. For one, there don’t appear to be any differences in behavior among the ghosts; none is faster or smarter than another. Also, I don’t recall Pac-Man slowing down while eating dots. However, the game is still fast-paced challenging enough to encourage a lot of replayability. The mazes are small but varied (and one doesn’t have any walls). And many of my friends suggested that once you got good at the game, a fun challenge is to use the mouse. (Even after I did get good at the game, I completely disagreed.)
But what truly makes the game “deluxe” is the numerous powerups. In addition to “fruit,” as some players call it, functional prizes appear; if you eat a powerup, there’s a timer off in the margin letting you know how long you have before your powerup expires. Slightly reminiscent of games such as Mr. Do! and Bubble Bobble, letters from the word “EXTRA” appear, and if you eat enough to spell the word “EXTRA,” you get a bonus life. Sometimes a gun will show up, and if you eat the gun you can actually fire bullets at the ghosts; something I always loved doing was to get the gun, shoot the ghosts, and position myself horizontally in line with the ghosts’ pen and just keep firing away as they regenerate. Some powerups slow the ghosts down, some speed Pac-Man up, some freeze the ghosts in place, and some turn the dots into gems, giving Pac-Man a nice bonus for eating them. Should Pac-Man eat four energizers in a row without eating any dots in between, he advances to the next level and collects the points for the remaining dots. In some versions of Deluxe Pac-Man, you would actually automatically advance to the next level after reaching a certain number of points, which was a huge relief if you were down to your last life and just about to be eaten. (Newer versions removed this feature, unfortunately.)
I’m pretty sure there were two versions of Deluxe Pac-Man: an AGA version for Amiga 1200 and 4000 users, and an ECS version for everybody else. If you have a classic Amiga (or even a modern PowerPC-based Amiga, it might work), I strongly urge you to try this game. In the ’90s it was shareware — meaning that if you like the game you were obliged to buy it (and get extra features) — and even as a near-penniless college student, I found the game to be great enough to warrant sending $20 to Europe for the registered version; I was glad I did. (Ditto Edgar Vigdal’s other supercharged arcade remake, Deluxe Galaga.) Now I’ll have to give Deluxe PocMon — the current incarnation of Vigdal’s excellent conversion — a try; maybe this too will warrant registering the shareware.