Pac-Man Championship Edition Review

Were people "upset" when the "big news" last week was the release of a new Pac-Man? Sure. Is that fair to the game? Not at all.

Last week, many gamers were told by several sites to expect an announcement which would change the history of gaming; they got a new Pac-Man. While not a groundbreaking announcement or groundbreaking game, the latest iteration of Pac-Man on the XBLA (seriously, how many will we get?), and the first truly new Pac-Man by the original creator in decades, is a fun game, and is filled with nostalgia and neon lights.

If you don’t know how Pac-Man plays, you probably shouldn’t be at a video game related website in the first place. Namco’s little hungry dot is one of the most well-known and popular gaming characters of all time, but the last few generations have been relatively quiet for the little guy and his family.

Pac-Man Championship Edition — or Pac-Man CE — is what you’ve come to expect and love from the franchise, but with a few new tricks tacked on. After starting the game up, you’re treated to a neon display of Pac-Man, Inky, Clyde, Blinky, and Pinky running across the screen. One thing you’ll notice right away from the main menu is the complete lack of any multiplayer option; whether it be over XBL or same console, there’s no way to enjoy Pac-Man with a friend, or alternate turns upon death like some of the arcade versions.

After selecting single player, your choices of game modes include several, and they’re all strictly time-based. The main mode is the Championship Mode which lasts 5 minutes; two challenge modes last 10 minutes, and three extra modes last either 5 or 10 minutes.

That may be the biggest change from traditional Pac-Man games, as this time around there’s no way to play longer than your time allotted. At the arcades and pizza parlors, it was always a challenge seeing how long you could play before you died, and the choice between going on and aiming for the top score or leaving while your pizza was hot made every game seem important. (Well, slightly, at least.) Now, though, Pac-Man is all about the high score, not longevity.

In a way, it works. During the gameplay the speed will continuously grow as you get nearer to the time expiring. At the beginning, the little guy moves slower than in the original title; by the end, he’s zipping around so fast the slightest pause in movement will let Blinky and Co. catch up to you.

Had they split the game into levels, this may have been awkward. As it is, though, it works brilliantly. During the gameplay, the level is split into two halves. When you clear the dots on one half, a fruit appears on the other. Eat the fruit, and the other half gets more dots. It sounds silly, but the constant need to go from side to side and continue eating dots and fruit while dodging the ghosts makes for some hectic gameplay as the time gets lower.

Due to the time limits and the inclusion of a Leaderboard, getting a high score and beating it offers most of the replay value. There are plenty of ways to increase your score, such as gobbling successive ghosts. Of course, with a game as old as Pac-Man, chances of getting to the top spot on the leaderboard are pretty slim.

When it’s all said and done, this is the best Pac-Man game on XBLA. The flashy, neon graphics and increased speed make it unlike any Pac experience yet. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the first Pac-Man game released on XBLA, meaning a lot of people just won’t be willing to pay another 10 bucks to get the same game again. If you aren’t a huge Pac-Man fan, the price of the game combined with the lack of any real replay value outside of increasing your leaderboard standing should point you towards not buying this one. If you long for the days of playing Pac-Man while waiting for your pizza to cook, though, it’s perfect. Most pizzas can be cooked in 10 minutes or so these days, after all.


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Author: Brendon Lindsey View all posts by

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