By Al Backiel
Pesco is the second release from programmer, Eric Bacher. Like his first game, Alfred Challenge, it was first introduced as a limited edition at the annual collectors show in Las Vegas; in this case Classic Gaming Expo 1999.
Pesco is another in a long series of Pac-Man clones. This one is a new game and not a pirate. It was created with the intention of building a better Pac-Man. The maze itself is also fresh. At least I don't recognize it from any other layouts I have seen. This time Pac-man is a fish, who moves through a maze gobbling up plankton pellets. It looks and feels and arcade-like. My compliments to the chef.
Each screen has a bonus item which can be picked up for extra points. Instead of various types of fruit; in keeping with the theme, the bonus is a form of marine life (eg. coral, clam shell). There are a total of 9 progressively harder levels. You have only 4 lives to lose. There are no bonus lives.
This is one of the more difficult interpretations of Pac-Man. There are only two side escape tunnels and unfortunately they are on the bottom of the screen. Instead of ghosts hunting you down, there are killer crabs which enter through the center. There is very little flicker. This is a vast improvement. The black background makes everything stand out crisply and sharply. The only fault I have with this game is that the killer crabs are way too fast and you move like a snail. In the later rounds it seems that they are on amphetamines or steroids. Even the flashing power pills don't help much - they wear off quickly as you progress. All this makes for a rough time instead of a fun outing. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good challenge as much as anybody else. But, these guys are not only fast, they are a little too smart for their own good and zero in on you rather quickly. I was able to complete only 4 screens. It will take me a lot of trial and error before I can find suitable patterns. As a matter of fact, if you can finish the the 9th screen, you have a shot at winning a free game by being able to answer questions on Eric's website (now gone) (Ed: Itís unknown if anyone claimed the prize, but a screenshot of what the final screen looks like can be found in the Easter egg section HERE)
The game comes attractively packaged and the instructions even have the obligatory game scenario provided. This one is about a young fish striking out on its own. The game is written in NTSC format and might work in PAL.
Note that the version sold by Atari Age was modified to be easier to play.
Russ Perry Jr's' comments:
● When you grab power dot, crabs slow down. But having said that, I still agree with Al that the game is quite hard.
● Also, graphically the maze is a little dull, but the crabs are darn cute.
● Finally, this game started out as Pac-Man, but Eric was afraid that Namco would be displeased, so he changed it a bit to be a different game so that they wouldn't make him stop selling it.
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