Having zero experience playing the original on the O2, my initial thought when first seeing the game and learning of its development was it is a 'cheap' Pac-Man clone.
Playing the game and getting a feel for it, and its play style mechanics, while there is an undeniable similarity with Pac-Man, this is a very good game in its own right with considerable and distinct differences.
Off the bat, there are no patterns that can be memorized as an easy way to complete any of the mazes. KC is more like Ms. Pac-Man in this regard, including a variety of maze layouts; like the aforementioned, there are four different ones.
The key though involves understanding that unlike any of the Pac-Man maze series of games, a player cannot change direction on a whim. KC moves in a grid-like pattern throughout the maze*. Once a direction has been selected, KC must complete moving into that next grid space before selecting a new direction.
For those familiar with the Arcade classic Q*bert in which once a direction is selected to hop to, Q*bert must land on that cube, in that chosen direction, before being able to select a new direction, KC moves with a similar movement rule set. There is no way of changing Q*bert's direction midair, and there is no way of changing KC's direction when travelling to the next grid space.
That gameplay movement mechanics coupled with the typical, trying to plan your movement ahead of time while the "munchers" are coming for you, is one of the ways it is very similar to, yet very different from, (Ms) Pac-Man.
Unlike the familiar Arcade games, KC only has twelve dots ("pills") in each maze. Three pills at a time come together at the start of a new maze to form four groups. The pills though, move throughout the maze. Last pill remaining is extra challenging as it moves at the same speed of KC and cannot simply be followed and eaten, it must be intercepted. There are flashing pills which turn the tables on the “munchers” in the same way energizers allow Pac-Man to turn the tables on the “monsters”.
Players have the choice of which of the 4 mazes they wish to play, or make it random. There is also a level editor for individuals to design their own maze. Last but not least, when and if one 'masters' the four mazes of the game, the invisible maze option ramps up the challenge considerably.
KC Munchkin goes above and beyond the O2 experience by not only providing gameplay mechanics that are spot on to the original**; additionally, there is the choice of graphics. Default graphics being the updated set for the 7800. Hold down the Pause button on the console while powering on the system, then throughout the BIOS check/logo, and the original O2 graphics will appear.
While it may not be for everyone, especially if one finds themselves insisting to try movement and planning just like (Ms) Pac-Man, if the game can be seen and appreciated as its own standalone experience, it is a rewarding one and worth the endeavor. KC Munchkin is a fun and addicting title.
Defender_2600 did an excellent job in illustrating the grid of KC Munchkin here
"...impressively accurate...faithfully recreates...strikingly accurate.”