Exciting copyright experiment

*excitement not guaranteed

There aren't many "Lite" games (ie free demos of paid apps) on the App Store that are lastingly entertaining in their own right, but until recently Pac-Man Lite was one of them. In fact, in some ways I actually like it better than the full game, which might be why Namco recently destroyed it.

They'd prefer the term "updated", of course. Pac-Man Lite hasn't been removed from the Store, just replaced this week with a vastly crappier version. The update blurb notes the addition of a proprietary new Namco online "community" system, but what it doesn't mention is that almost all the functionality of the game has been removed.

The previous Lite version offered a single round of the game at each of the three difficulty levels (Easy, Normal and Original, which is the arcade setting), recording high scores for each and unintrusively inviting you to buy the full version at the end, or letting you play the demo again.

What this meant was that if you just fancied a quick five minutes of Pac-Man rather than devoting half an hour to a full game, you could attempt to get the maximum possible Round 1 score (which is 14,800) and have yourself a nice little mini-challenge.

It's pleasingly tricky to achieve at the two higher difficulties (and requires patience and focus even on Easy), but if you lost all your lives, or missed a ghost/fruit and therefore couldn't achieve the max, you could quickly restart.

All that's gone in the new Lite. You get just one of the three difficulty settings, you can't quit mid-game, and after one attempt you get dumped back on the Home screen and have to reboot if you want to play again. It's rubbish, and I was gutted to discover the loss.

I'm not great at Pac-Man, but I'm good enough that an average game lasts about 15 minutes, which is longer than I generally want to play Pac-Man for. A one-level score-attack is just perfect for me, and you don't get that option in the full game.

What's more, the full game costs £2.99, which is shockingly bad value considering that the hugely superior Pac-Man Championship Edition is barely over half that price normally (£1.79), and is frequently – including at the time of writing this – on sale for 59p.

(It's also twice the standard price of the modern remake Pac-Man Remix, which is also frequently on sale for 59p, and the same price as Ms Pac-Man, which has four times as many mazes.)

So anyway, to cut a long-story short I was mourning the loss of one of my favourite quick-play arcade titles, when I remembered that after a couple of hideous iTunes incidents, I always make a full backup of both my iTunes folder and my settings and saves every month or so.

Having also recently learned how to manually add app files thanks to the Espgaluda 2 iPod Touch bug fiasco, it suddenly dawned on me that I might be able to restore my backed-up old version of Pac-Man Lite.

And it was! Hurrah! I lost my old settings, but that just meant the highscores (I'd eventually maxed all three difficulties) were reset, which gives me the chance to start again. If you've inadvertently updated to the crappy new version, or have never downloaded it but now fancy giving it a try, here's how to do it.

1. If you haven't previously downloaded Pac-Man Lite, grab the current version from the App Store and sync it to your iPod. (This step – and step 2 – MIGHT not actually be necessary, I have no way of checking. But doing it this way will ensure you don't get a DRM error at a later step.)

2. Now delete it from your iPod, and also from iTunes (in the Apps tab in the left-hand column under Library). When it asks if you want to move it to the Recycle Bin, say yes.

3. Download the old version from here and unzip the IPA file. I'm pretty confident that hosting the file isn't illegal, as it's a free download anyway.

4. Drag and drop the IPA file onto the Apps list, and sync your device.

Bingo bongo! You should now be able to enjoy the good version of Pac-Man Lite, and make a fully-informed decision on whether you want to buy the real thing or not. Bye-bye, crappy new version!


The moral of the story? Always back up your iTunes folder, viewers. And never say WoSblog doesn't give you anything.


5 Responses to “Exciting copyright experiment”

  1. Biokinton Says:

    Erm, Stu?
    No dice over here. At the last sync iTunes complains that I'm not authorised to use the application on my computer. Clicking Store | Authorise Computer (as it suggests) accomplishes a fat lot of nothing.


  2. Did you download the new version first? That should sort out the authorisation issue.

  3. Irish Al Says:

    You are a criminal, sir, and I have informed the relevant authorities.

  4. Biokinton Says:

    > Did you download the new version first?

    I did, yes. Downloaded the new version, synced it to my iPhone, deleted it from my iPhone and iTunes as per the instructions, dragged in the previous version, went to sync and — BRRRR! BRRRR! YOU ARE NOT AUTHORISED!

    It would seem the DRM Overlords have won this time.


  5. How very odd. All I can tell you is it worked fine for me, and I don't own the full version or anything. As far as iTunes is concerned Pac-Man Lite is Pac-Man Lite whichever version you've downloaded, so you should be authorised to have it.

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