THIEF / Pacific Novelty / Arcade
 
 
Pacific Novelty was a little company that released a handful of arcade games between 1981-1983. Their deal appeared to be just cloning the most popular games of the time on a limited budget, and Thief is clearly their entry into the "maze chase" genre.

Unfortunately the game doesn't have the charm, graphical polish or level design of a Pac-Man. It actually looks more like Lock N' Chase for the 2600. You play as a little buggy, apparently a bank robber driving around picking up loot while dodging red buggy clones (presumably the police) that sometimes jerk around randomly and sometimes come after you with a vengeance. The $ signs replace Pac-Man's power pellets in that they temporarily allow you to collide with the police cars for bonus points. Unlike in Pac-Man there's no cool-down period for cars that you destroy; they come right back onto the playfield as normal cars. Generally they drive in circles and leave you alone until the $ spell wears off but on occasion I have seen one pull a "YOU GON PAY FOR WHAT YOU DID BOY!" and come gunning straight after me.

The level design isn't very good because it totally relies on not more than two cop cars going aggro on you at once. Get into later levels where all the cars work in tandem and the game becomes basically impossible. It's already more challenging than the later reaches of Pac-Man right from the first level, but it just feels cheaper.

Thief was also one of those games that employed the novelty of a cassette tape in its bowels used for sound and music, which was the main draw in arcades. In this case, it's a loop of goofy police dispatch that plays constantly describing a chase that usually doesn't even come near to lining up with the onscreen action (and interspersed with random jibes at your playing ability for no apparent reason.) It actually adds some charm to the game (as well as a nice explosion sound effect when you wreck) but takes some Jiggerin' and Configgerin' to get running in emulators like MAME and such.
 
 
Videos :
 
* Gameplay Video - With cassette sound
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