Review | Pac-Man Championship Edition DX
A classic reborn
Format: Xbox 360/ PS3 | Genre: Arcade| Publisher: Namco Bandai| Developer: Namco Bandai| Release date: 24/11/2010 | Price: £7.99 PSN/ 800 MS Points XBLA
Greg Giddens gets his mind blown in PAC-MAN CHAMPIONSHIP EDITION DX.
WHO WOULD have though a Pac-Man title in 2010 would be so mind blowing? But here we are with chunks of brain adorning my desk and a heart rate so fast it threatens to explode as well. A few years back, we saw a revived Pac-Man title impress and surprise us all but Pac-Man Championship Edition DX takes the experience even further and proves that even 30 years on there’s plenty of life left in the old Pac…thing yet.
The core concept is unchanged; you munch around a maze eating pellets and fruit and you’re chased by ghosts and who you occasionally eat despite their negative nutritional effect. In Pac-Man Championship Edition DX however, there are new ideas expanding this traditional experience to form something incredibly addictive. Is the same old maze getting boring and predictable? Why not have a selection of different mazes then? Let’s not stop there. How about a selection of different graphical styles – pastel or neon coloured, pixelated or beautifully curved, solid or translucent? The choice is yours. The default neon style is certainly the most impressive. The Tron feel is undeniable and, as the frenzy of obsessive eating and ghost chasing speeds up, you are completely drawn in to the colourful and crisp set of mazes.
Inky, Blink, Pinky and Clyde. Bob, Dave, Cindy…
“Frenzy you say? What’s so frantic about four ghosts leisurely chasing you?” How about dozens of ghosts scattered around the maze fast asleep only to be rudely awakened as you dash past? Oh yes dozens of ghost which follow you around like a train of spectral carriages, more are spawned as you continue to eat your way to victory. Before long, your following train is too full for the ghosts to latch on to and so you’ll be frantically ducking and diving around corners to dodge the ‘free spirited’ ghosts who like to meet you head on. One special pellet later and you can devour them all for a massive boost to your score.
However, it doesn’t just get a little more crowded on screen with the legions of undead, it also increases in speed up to a factor of x50, making the near misses more dramatic and the whole experience more exciting. To compliment both the speed and ghost increase you are given bombs to set off which reset ghosts to the starting positions and reduce the speed slightly. Additionally, a close encounter with a ghost activates slow motion so you can switch direction to avoid the icy touch and subsequent death. When all these elements come together it becomes a frenzy of brightly coloured, glowing shapes with appropriate techno music chiming in on the experience and emphasising the ridiculous pace. It’s absolutely fantastic.
It does get a little repetitive though. Score Attack makes up the primary mode. A small bunch of other modes with specific tasks within time frames all based on the same core concept of eating, chasing, frantic fun provide something a little different however. Also the maze variety is limited but despite these repetition issues, repeat play is part of Pac-Man’s charm so it’s not really detrimental to the experience. There’s no doubt that additional modes and mazes would be great additions – in DLC perhaps –but what’s on offer is still certainly addictive enough to prevent it ever feeling like a grind. It’s good old retro fun with HD visuals and sound to make it relevant. However the leaderboards lack navigational flow and easy friend comparisons, and with Pac-Man Championship Edition DX being such a competitive high score busting game it’s a shame this element wasn’t better designed.
Admittedly the minor flaws are nothing more than nitpicks and in the end Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is a terrific revival of a timeless classic that will charm and appeal to everyone, keeping you glued to your screen for hours on end. Excitingly this is only the first one of Namco’s classics to see such a special revival, more are underway apparently, and I for one cannot wait.