It ain’t there.

A large portion of my gameplaying growing up consists of Mac shareware. This is back in a time when the idea of Mac games was even more unbelievable than it is now. That said there are a ton of cool little games that never had a chance to shine due to the market they were produced in. One such game is Maniac which turns Pac-Man into a word game. Hangman in fact. Pac-hang-man.

You play as Pac-Man, wearing a pimp hat. There are ghosts, dots, power pellets, random pieces of fruit and tunnels as you might expect from Pac-Man. However, floating around the maze is a multicolored icon which takes you into the second phase of the game: guessing letters like someone watching Wheel of Fortune over a TV dinner. Keep guessing letters correctly and you move on to the next level, guess wrong and you are dumped back into the maze with the ghosts. The clock is ticking though, so you have to guess the word before the time limit expires.

The other major twist to the standard Pac-Man formula is as you eat dots you gain powerups in a Gradius-esq fashion. The more dots you eat, the further up the powerup chart you go. Powerups can be activated at any time and confer bonuses such as speed boosts and second guesses.

The game concept sounds dumb but it turns out to be a fun experience. The game has very good presentation for an early 90’s Mac shareware game. Good transitions between screens, solid if simple graphics, and easy to use menus and controls. The sound is typical of game developers experiencing the flexibility that digital sound sampling provides with various samples of TV shows (“Thunderbirds are go!” upon a speed boost) and movies. The music is MOD based and sounds similar to [insert favorite Amiga game here].

If you are so inclined and have the hardware to play the game you can find it here: