Pac-Man Championship Edition ReviewCain Dornan
Although I havent been much of an Xbox Live Arcade gamer so far, I have played my fair share of games that have appeared on Microsofts interesting game service. Ive played many of the big-shots to grace the service thus far, however, there havent been many that have grasped my attention and held it long enough to make me consider splashing out Microsoft Points on many of the games. Admittedly, Im not much of a retro gamer; in fact, I much prefer to sit down with a shiny new shooter or racer sporting realistic physics, precision controls and accurate gameplay than stare at a screen filled with pixilated 2D dots.
I know, Ive just knocked a hornets nest of angry retro gamers. Im sorry.
Although I dont have too many classics held close to my heart, there are a few experiences as a kid that Ill never forget. Super Mario Bros. was, and still is, a pure bliss to play, as was Space Invaders. Pac-Man was also an all-time favourite, although Ive never really cared to spend much time with many other recreations or revamps since its classic arcade days. Sorry, but the cheesy slogans and empty promises of developers trying to cash-in on a never-to-be-beaten classic holds no space in my book.
With this in mind, Im sure you can imagine my lack of willingness to check out the latest take on the classic franchise. Promising the first new mazes in some twenty-six years, Namco Bandai have released their money-making classic onto the Xbox Live Arcade in the form of Pac-Man Championship Edition, which completely revamps the classic formula all the while maintaining those delicate elements that made it so much fun to play.
The game is presented using bright funky colours and rhythmic trance music that makes the experience both look and sound refreshingly. Its mostly the same-old Pac-Man gaming that weve come to know and love, where you control a large mouth-thing that you must move around a maze eating dots all the while avoiding ghosts that roam the corridors. Eat a bigger dot, known as a power pellet, and youll be able to turn the tables and eat the ghosts, rewarding you with bonus points.
Pac-Man Championship Edition offers a variety of different variant modes that offer different challenges within set time limits. One, for example, has you whizzing along at super speed from get go through a very streamlined maze, while another has you wondering the corridors with the walls hidden in darkness, your only light being the one that surrounds your roaming mouth.
Most of these game variants have mazes that gradually evolve as the game progresses into different, sometimes challenging set-ups. For example, collecting a piece of fruit on one side of the maze not only rewards you with extra points, but also alters the maze style on the opposite side. This process allows the game to evolve as time passes, keeping the action interesting and constant without any pauses in-between levels as found in the classic.
One disappointing aspect of the game is the lack of multiplayer support. Youre unable to directly verse other gamers either on the same console or over Xbox Live. The game does feature leaderboards, however, with your highest scores uploaded to the boards and compared with the scores from other gamers across the globe, a neat future if you wish to compare your skill against others.
Selling for the usual 800 Microsoft Points, Pac-Man Championship Edition is a great revamp of the classic game that first sparked gaming addictions back in the 80s. It did surprise me; I was expecting yet another lame cash-in on the franchise, however, I found an addictive and worthwhile experience that even had a non-gaming friend of mine hooked on for several hours. Its the same classic fun that youll remember from playing the original, yet it also feels surprisingly refreshing with its new stylish presentation style, the new game variants and the way in which the mazes gradually evolve seamlessly during play. Its not a completely new experience: its one that builds on past and rebuilds your interest in the game. If youre looking for a simple, addictive Live Arcade title, this one is worth a look.
Disclosure: We are provided copies of games from the game companies for some games that we review.