Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pacman of the Lost Dot

Indyman by Ryan Diez

. . . . .

The dense, lush rainforests of the eastern slopes of the Andes,
the place known as "The Dots of the Jungle".


A narrow trail of dots across the green face of the canyon. A group of ghosts make their way along it. At the head of the party is a Pacman, Pacman Jones. He wears a brimmed felt hat. Behind him come two Spanish Peruvians, GHOSTIPO and GHOSTRANCA. 

Bringing up the rear are five Yagua GHOSTS. They act as porters and are wrangling the two heavily-packed llamas. The Ghosts become increasingly nervous, spilling cherries, which Pacman Jones quickly gobbles up. The speak to each other in bursts of Quechaghost. The Pacman, who is known to his friends as Indyman, glances back at them. 


They're talking about the Curse again! 

He turns and yells at the Ghosts in Quechaghost, his anger giving an indication of his own fears of being gobbled up by Indyman. The party reaches a break in the canyon wall and takes the trail through it. 

When they emerge, their destination is revealed to them in the distance. They have reached the almighty "kill screen".  Pacman of the Lost Arc was designed to have no ending - as long as the player keeps at least one life, he or she should be able to play the game indefinitely. 

However, a bug keeps this from happening: Normally, no more than seven fruit are displayed at the bottom of the screen at any one time. But when the internal level counter, which is stored in a single byte, reaches 255, the subroutine that draws the fruit erroneously "rolls over" this number to zero, causing it to try to draw 256 fruit instead of the usual seven. 

This corrupts the bottom of the screen and the entire right half of the maze with seemingly random symbols (above), making it impossible to eat enough dots to beat the level. Because this effectively ends the game, this "split-screen" level is often referred to as "The Lost Dot". 

When they emerge, their destination is revealed to them in the distance. Beyond a thick stand of trees is the vegetation - enshrouded Temple of the GHOSTAPOYAN WARRIORS, 2000 years old. 

The entire party is struck by the sight. Somehow, emulators and code analysis have revealed what would happen should this 255th level be cleared: The fruit and intermissions would restart at level 1 conditions, but the enemies would retain their higher speed and invulnerability to power pellets from the higher stages. 

The Ghosts, terrified now, chatter away. Suddenly three at the back turn and dun, dropping dots as they go. Ghostranca yells at the fleeing Ghosts and pulls his pistol out. He starts to raise his arm to aim but Indyman restrains it in a muscular grip. 



Ghostranca looks evilly at Indyman's hand upon him. Indyman releases him and smiles in a friendly way. 


We don't need more ghosts.

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Special thanks to:
Ryan Diez
for his artistic contribution

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