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by KiLLerCloWn

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Introduction

The Basics

The Patterns

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Basic Techniques
What you have to learn first is cornering. yes, there are differences in how quickly you corner and every Pac-Man pattern out there relies on you cornering quickly consistently without getting stuck. If you get stuck for as much of 1/10 of a second or less, hardly perceivalble to the eye your timing and pattern will be off, you will have to readjust and in the later levels will in most cases not be able to recover!

One basic rule applies: Corner before you get to the corner. The corners are round and if you only start twisting your joystick when you get to the corner you've already taken a wider line. This is almost invisible to the eye but it really makes a difference and you'll notice whether your cornering has been clean when you reach certain key points in the patterns. I will outline these points later and show you how to analyse your performance on the run.

Here's an example for when to corner:

cornering.jpg (12988 bytes)

You're going from left to right: Push up at point A, push right at point B, push up at point C, push right at point D. See how this way you anticipate your next corner. Once you have learnt and trained your patterns you will be able to do these twisty turns without even looking, just following an acquired rythm to safely and quickly guide our yellow friend through the maze.

Ghost Movement
Know the ghosts' movements and know their characteristics:

blinky.gif (121 bytes) - Blinky: The most cunning and most dangerous: Fast and trying to corner you with direction changes. When he's after you run quick and run twisty through lots of corners to shake (as with all others, cornering successive turn is most likely to lose the ghost). It also seems that Blinkey does get a burst of speed when only a few dots are left in the maze. It is at it's most dangerous then. It will also track you by your poistion in the maze, trying to get to where you are as quickly as possible. It will try to line up with you vertically first, then horizontally. Blinkey owns and patrols the top right hand corner of the maze.

pinky.gif (129 bytes) - Pinky: Fast but more predictable. Once he's on your tail he won't let go. But he'll stay on your your tail running after you, hardly trying any tricks. Pinkey will line up with you by always following the direction which you are moving in or facing. If Pac-Man and Pinky are heading toward each other, and there is a hallway just before he hits you,  Pinky will turn into the hallway first and try to run in the same direction as Pac-Man. All this is explained by the fact that Pinky is hard coded into the program to read the movement of your joystick and follow it. Pinky owns and patrols the top left of the maze.

clyde.gif (127 bytes) - Clyde: Slower and a lot less harmful. Usually if you can stay out of the way of the top two (Blinkey and Pinkey) you can get away from Clyde and Inky by running through the maze. Clyde doesn't seem to want to line up with you or actively chase you. He just wants to get into your general vicinity and then only eats you if you happen to run into him. Clyde owns and patrols the bottom left of the maze.

inky.gif (127 bytes) - Inky: The slowest and almost shy. Often when faced head to head he will turn and run away from you. Mostly he will only catch you if you happen to run into his pattern. Nevertheless it seems like it can adopt the characteristics of any of the others at any given time. All of a sudden shy Inky might try and outwit you like Blinkey and you won't even know what hit you. Inky owns and patrols the bottom right of the maze.

Some general observations on ghost movement are also useful to know:

The above characteristics only count for when the ghosts are in "chase mode". Every now and then, about 4 times per level, they will scatter and return to their respective corners. Then they will follow their preset pattern and only eat you if you happen to directly cross their path.

Bluetime: On the levels which have a longer 'blue time' than 2 seconds, the ghosts flash 4 times before turning back to their original colour back during the fifth flash.You should count the flashes as you're going after them, so as to know when to turn back.  On the levels of the 2 second 'blue time' (starting with the second galaxian), they only flash twice.

Rules of Engagement
In addition to knowing your enemy there are also a number of given events in each level you should know about:

- The most dangerous area is the bottom row, which is why almost all Pac-Man patterns aim at clearing this first. The second most dangrous are the corner areas where your exits can be blocked by the ghosts closing in. You are most safe in the middle area around the ghost house where there are many escape routes to choose from.

- The power pills change in the duration they affect the ghosts every level. Eat one and the ghosts will turn blue for you to eat and head in the opposite direction they were going before you ate it (this is very useful to know in later stages). They will be longest immediately after an intermission and shortest in the level just before an intermission. Until they do not turn the ghosts blue anymore at all...

- Even when hard on your tail, at regular intervals the ghosts will scatter and return into their respective corners. They usually follow the same route when they do.

- Coming out of their house in the middle of the maze, the ghosts always adopt the same way to their respective corner first, before engaging you.

- Use the tunnels to gain advantage, You are much faster in the tunnels than the ghosts. Lure them into following you into the tunnel and shoot out at the other end with a healthy lead.

- Using the tunnels at the end of the patterns can win you more time if used wisely. It is useful to know that if you lured the ghosts into following you into the tunnel, upon exiting it you can make your way to the bottom (and nearer) power pill in time so that the ghosts will turn back into the tunnel itself when you gobble it up. This can win you a decisive advantage!

- Learn to do "head fakes", quick jerks of the joystick which fake the ghosts into changing direction or anticipating your movement incorrectly

- Read the ghosts eyes: The ghosts eyes give away which direction they are going to turn next, they always look which way they'll go slightly before turning.

- You are faster on a clear road: If on the run, chose paths which have been cleared already to gain more speed advantage over your pursuers.

- The Escape Routes: The two exits above the ghost house and above the Pac-Man start position can only be travelled downwards by the ghosts, never upwards unless they are blue and on the run. God to know this when you are being chased! (Thanks to Simon for this tip :))

- The hiding place: There is one safe spot in the maze. Reach it when none of the ghosts are looking at you and you can stay there safely for as long as you like. The ghosts will not find you. See below for the safe place:

safeplace.gif (3569 bytes)

All of the above...
...you only need to apply when failing on the patterns which follow in the next chapter. They will only help you when having to improvise or when trying to develop your own patterns. When following my "safe" patterns without mistakes you shouldn't have to revert to fakes, tunnels or hiding to save your rear end :)

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