There’s no denying the appeal of Pac-Man, and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Pac-Man should be flattered indeed. Even the Vectrex had an Pac-knockoff in the form of Clean Sweep. Clean Sweep offers a bit more plot than some other Pac clones, but the gameplay is strikingly similar. When playing Clean Sweep, you assume the role of a bank president armed with a vacuum. The bank has just been blown up and money is strewn around the rubble. In a sign of the times, our high-flying bank president doesn’t rush around administering aid to those who might have been injured. Nope we’re going to reclaim the cash by sucking it up with our trusty Hoover.
The bank walls form the maze. Cash is depicted by small lines dotting the corridors. There are passageways that wrap from top to bottom and left to right. And, in each corner is a supercharger for the vacuum. All in all, it looks very similar to Pac-Man. And, it sounds similar too. So similar, in fact, that I’m surprised that GCE (the maker of the Vectrex and this game) wasn’t sued by Namco. Perhaps they were overlooked because of the vector graphics.
Gameplay is reasonably good and the controls work well. The game does have some nuances that separate it from its Pac brethren. You need to return to the center (ostensibly the vault) when your vacuum gets full. The robbers (shaped, for some reason, like claws) enter the maze one at a time providing a bit of respite before aggressively pursuing the player. A second game option makes the walls invisible adding more difficulty.
Some nice touches include the detailed animation of the vacuum and the green overlay packaged with the game which resembles a dollar bill in style. But, unfortunately, these don’t add a lot to gameplay that quickly gets repetitive.
One thing to note if you have an original boxed copy: Mr. Boston the liquor company offered a few branded versions of the game as a special promotion. These have Mr. Boston labels on the box and cartridge. They included a special overlay and the game itself features a top hat instead of a vacuum. Mr. Boston versions are exceedingly rare and command prices of several hundred dollars.
Overall, Clean Sweep is a solid Pac-Clone but nothing special. Then again, if vacuuming is your thing, you may find this one hard to put down.