Category Archives: maze games

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1984: Devil World

Where we celebrate the video games from 1984, a scant 30 years ago.

In 1984, perhaps driven by George Orwell’s warnings of a Big Brother controlling everything, telecommunications giant AT&T was broken up into eight different companies, the result of anti-trust court case United States vs. AT&T. Ads for fast food restaurant Wendy’s started asking other chains  “Where’s the beef?”. And, of course, the revolutionary Macintosh computer was unveiled by Apple. 

1984 was also the second year for Nintendo’s Family Computer (Famicom) video game console. It was such a solid success in Japan that Nintendo had to open a new R&D department dedicated to making games for the system in order to keep up with demand. Heading the new R&D4 was Shigeru Miyamoto, creator of the smash hit arcade game Donkey Kong. His first game for the Famicom is our subject today: the bizarre Devil World.

Players control a young dragon named Tamagon, who has taken it upon himself to enter the Devil’s domain and take on the big guy. As Tamagon moves around the Pac-Man styled maze, he must be careful. At the top of the screen the devil directs his minions to occasionally turn cranks, moving the maze in the four main compass directions. This movement creates crushing hazards for the dragon at the edges of the screen. Tamagon must take hold of the crosses littering the maze, enabling him to fight the denizens of Hell: robed eyes that chase him relentlessly. If the dragon is able to roast the eyes with his fiery breath while holding a cross, they turn into tasty fried eggs that he can eat. The crosses also let Tamagon pick up dots lining the maze, and when he has taken them all the board ends. He can also get some relief from the sweltering climes of hades by gobbling bonus ice cream cones that occasionally appear. In the next screen, Tamagon must take four bibles to a seal in the centre of the screen, and the last wave of the game is a bonus round with the dragon picking up bonus boxes before a time limit runs out. The screens then repeat, with increasing difficulty.

While the gameplay is merely another take on the maze game genre, the content of the graphics is what makes Devil World stand out, not only among other Nintendo games, but video games in general. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always thought that there needs to be more religious imagery in games. Nintendo of America didn’t think quite the same way, however. While Devil World was released in Japan for the Famicom in 1984, and on the NES in Europe in 1987, it was never released in North America. This was because of NoA’s strict policy against religious iconography in their games.

Now, taking to the pulpit, is a video of Devil World in action. Perfect for all you video game zealots. For more information on Devil World and the Famicom, consult your local Dot Eaters entry.

 

The Gravity of Not Pacman

Not Pacman, by Maurice Ltd., is an interesting take on the venerable dot eater formula.  It resembles the classic game, appropriates the sounds, but here the play is the thing.  Here, you don’t play by moving Pac around directly, but spin the maze in which he and his dreaded ghost antagonists reside.  Gravity does the rest, and the characters roll around while you try to keep our yellow hero from tumbling into an enemy.

There are a few control options, including using joysticks or even a steering wheel if you have one, but I find I like the mouse option the best, spinning the maze clockwise and counter-clockwise by moving the mouse right or left.

What the game is really crying out for, of course, is a tablet version that uses accelerometer sensors to let you tilt the device to roll Pac-Man around.  Unfortunately, we only have Windows, OSX and Linux versions so far.  Also, you can only finish the maze once and then the game records your points and time taken to finish, then resets itself, so the goal currently is to finish in the fastest time.  But hey, it’s free!  You can download the different versions of Not Pacman here at stabyourself.net.

Here’s our video of gameplay using a mouse in the OSX version:

As always, for more information on the history of Pac-Man, consult your local Dot Eaters entry.