The first game that made me suspect my first impressions were wrong was Pac-Land. As its name suggests, this game removes our chomping hero from the mazes in which he's lived all these years and puts him into a new world filled with ghosts and other strange creatures. Not only that, but he can do more than just scuttle about.
Now he can run and jump, just like Mario and Luigi. Not a bad idea, certainly, but a couple of things seemed to stand in the way of this game's success. To begin with, the music, while pleasant, is far too repetitive. The graphics are almost devoid of the fine detail the TurboGrafx allows. And the game forces you to reverse the way you'd normally use a game controller.
Despite these flaws, however, Pac-Land is undeniably addictive. If you don't like it at first, give it a second chance. Before long, you'll be trying to get Pac-Man over the mountains, across the lakes, past the bridges, and finally toward the fairy princess he's supposed to rescue. After I finally stopped playing, my daughters (ages 10 and 12) took command, and the game hasn't stopped since. For some reason, this simple game continues to fascinate no matter how long it's played. Indeed, maybe its greatest strength is its simplicity.
The game still suffers from one nagging problem, though. In most running and jumping games, the directional pad moves you from one side of the screen to the other, while the buttons allow you to jump. But in Pac-Land, button I moves you right, button II moves you left, and the directional keys let you jump. In other words, it's precisely the reverse of what you'd expect. There's nothing wrong with a new way of doing things, of course, but these controls are so contrary that we still find it confusing -even after all those hours of play.