The Economics Of Pac-Land (NES Hack)

29 Apr
pac land nes hack

Pac-Land is Namco’s 1985 Japan-only Famicom port of their arcade game of the same name. It was the first home port of the game. The graphics were based off of the 1982 Hanna-Barbera Pac-Man cartoon, incorporating the theme music from the cartoon as well. The game itself is a rudimentary platformer, having Pac-Man leave home walking from his house through forest, city, desert, seaside and mountain terrain to return a lost fairy (hiding from the Ghost Monsters under his jaunty Alpine Fedora) to Fairy Land. Pac-Man can find power pellets in order to eat the Ghost Monsters, but that is the only mechanic preserved from the original Pac-Man game.

Not only being the first home port of the game, it is also an extremely early Famicom game in general. As such, it is a very tight, very economical, very tiny (40 kB) game. The CHR (graphics) data for the entire game: title screen, stages, font, intermissions and player and enemy sprites amounts to only 512 8×8 tiles.

Curiously enough, even among this small amount of tiles, there are unused graphics included. Some are broken, but there is a complete sprite to have the ghosts in cars that is unused. If one wanted, it would be possible to change one or more of the plane-based ghosts into car-based ghosts by limiting the y-position to stay on the ground. Otherwise the behavior would be identical, traveling in a straight line from one side of the screen to the other. A possible idea for a hack if one wanted.

I chose to only do a graphics hack and palette hack. Chose a color set that was more cartoony and a deeper yellow color for Pac-Man himself. Did a massive overhaul of the title screen. I also edited the front of house screen to include Mrs. Pac-Man to make it closer to the arcade game. Player and background titles were edited.

I wanted to add the ability in my hack to do mid-air jumps, an ability unlocked by a pair of magic boots found at the end of every stage. You can make the boots permanent by changing RAM address 0x0030 to 40. However, you can’t separate the multi-jump ability of the magic boots from the stage behavior while you wear them. The entrance and exit of the stage are reversed, and “completing” the stage (exiting on the left instead of the right) initiates a “Minus World” with glitched maps and pointers. Seemed too unstable to include in a hack.

My graphics hack for the game is below:


(This is not a game ROM, which I do not have the right to distribute. This is an IPS patch (created from Pac-Land (Japan).nes) which entirely contains code and data I created. My preferred IPS patcher is Lunar IPS.)



Magic Boots /Multi-Jump/Minus World Flag: 0x0030 (Set to 40).


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