The 3rd Party Memory Card does double duty this week, as I meant to get around to exposing another one of gaming's secrets last week, but... uh... didn't. Fortunately, one of my favorite moments is also somewhat of a secret, and it's one I'm reasonably sure few people reading will have seen. So it is with great delight that I relate to you the tale of the day Pac-Man went batshit cuckoonuts.
I don't really know how popular a game Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures was in it's heyday, but I found it incredibly entertaining, if a bit on the easy and short side of things. It's sort of like a point and click adventure game, except when you tell Pac-Man to go somewhere he'll just keep going until you tell him to do something else, or he decides to interact with the environment in some way. It's played more in "real time" and the game does a fantastic job of making it feel like you're orchestrating the environment around Pac-Man rather than actually controlling him.
The game is loaded with little interactive bits in the environment, some of them essential to the journey, some of them not. This moment I believe qualifies as a genuine secret.
The Setup/How To Do It:
Directing Pac-Man westward out of his yard, he passes a couple of house and comes upon the neighborhood park. After dealing with the treacherous hazard of a skateboard next to a rock on the path, Pac-Man approaches a tree.
If the player shoots this particular area of the tree with the slingshot...
...a caterpillar falls onto the ground.
Now, Pac-Man is fairly disgusted/displeased/indifferent to this little creature (depending on how the player's actions have affected his mood at the time,) so he'll pretty much ignore it. At first.
If you shoot the caterpillar with your slingshot, it will hop into the air a bit. If you keep shooting it, it keeps hopping up and down. Shoot it just a few more times, though......
... and suddenly it turns purple. What's more, Pac-Man now shows some more interest in the fuzzy guy. And then...
The Moment/The Secret: What the hell?!? Spit it out, man, spit it out!
Enticed by the bug's newly acquired candy-like hue, Pac-Man tosses it into his mouth like a... er... delicious piece of candy, chews it up, swallows it, then gives a smile and hearty chuckle of satisfaction to the player.
As Pac-Man cheerfully continues on his way, he stops suddenly, a sullen expression appearing on his face.
He sits down for a moment to gather himself, then rises to his feet and tries to communicate what's wrong to the player. And then it all goes horribly wrong(er.)
Pac-Man suddenly leaps into the air, manic and shrieking a panicked howl!
And then an Amber Alert goes out on his marbles.
Yanking his tongue and hitting himself in the head with a mallet, Pac-Man runs spastically around, caring little or simply unaware of his surroundings. The farmer catches Pac-Man trespassing on his farm and attempts to restrain and berate the crazy out of him...
But it is all for naught.
The player can cause Pac-Man to get a grip on reality again by simply shooting him or certain parts of the environment with the slingshot, but it's more fun to watch his little rampage, at least for a while.
The Impact/How Awesome Is This?:
I laughed out loud. The screenshots don't really do this justice, you must watch the embedded video:
To this day, there's not a game that is exactly like Pac-Man 2, as far as I'm aware. So much of the enjoyment and focus on the game is placed on the player's actions with the environment and Pac-Man's reactions. There are tons of frames of animation for Pac-Man to illustrate his different moods, and this is such a big part of the game (secret-within-a-secret time) that there is a cheat code to simply look at every frame of animation for Pac-Man: just enter PCMNPTT on the password screen to access the Pattern Test.
The other big part of the way the game is played is that feeling that the player and Pac-Man are distinct from each other, and this moment exemplifies that aspect. The way Pac-Man looks out of the screen at the player, miming and bleating to communicate that he isn't feeling well, and the subsequent loss of control when he goes nuts from the ill effects of eating the caterpillar don't break the fourth wall, they point out that it was never really there to begin with in this game.
But mostly, I simply found this little secret so awesomely hilarious when I stumbled upon it, and I wanted to share this gaming memory. Next time you see a cheap copy of Pac-Man 2 for SNES/Genesis while shopping on the Web or in your favorite used game shoppe, I encourage you to pick it up if you've never played it before.