Waka waka waka waka waka waka waka waka. That is the sound many of you will affiliate with when you think of Pac-Man. Developed by Namco, Pac-Man was release 34 years ago in 1980 and set the bar for arcade games. It’s become so successful that even to this day, Pac-Man is still played by gamers albeit on laptops, consoles and smartphones. Not only is it still being played, it’s even been turned into a TV series – Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures. And jumping on the cash cow that comes from the TV series, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures has arrived on our Xbox 360 console. It’s just a shame you don’t hear much ‘waka waka waka waka’ in the actual game.
Knowing it’s intended for children I booted up the game with that exact mindset. This turned out a blessing otherwise the high pitched cheesy commentary of Pac and friends would be extremely annoying, but instead I couldn’t help but chuckle. This isn’t pac-man as you’ll probably know it, however having watched an episode of the TV series on YouTube, the transition to game does appear similar, and if you have kids who watch the TV series, they’ll probably love it.
In the opening scene you get a flavour of what’s to come. Pac-World is under threat from the mighty General Betrayus and unless Pac-Man (really Pac-Boy) stops him, he and his evil ghosts will take over. The game is split into six different chapters, each containing several levels for you to complete as you run, double-jump and chomp your way through the 3D platformer. The levels aren’t the most taxing and are pretty linear, but each chapter does contain a different twist to try and keep you on your toes.
Throughout the six chapters you’ll have the opportunity to don different Pac-Suits, which gives Pac different powers. Simply eating the power pellets instantly gives Pac-Man new abilities, including the ability to throw fire and ice, turn into a pac-magnet, stick to poles as a chameleon and turn into a massive ball to roll your way around the levels. As mentioned earlier, the levels are pretty linear, so there isn’t much difficulty in completing them, and even when you approach the boss levels, including the final boss General Betrayus himself, you aren’t really challenged. I was actually disappointed with the final boss and was thinking to myself “is that it?”, but I then had to remember that it was aimed at children so I guess it’s probably at the right level.
There isn’t much resemblance to the actual arcade game, but throughout your campaign experience you’ll be able to chomp ghosts and eat golden pellets, helping you build up your level score. The ghosts aren’t going to take the chomping lightly though, as many of them have different attacks as they twirl, crop dust poison and throw fire and ice at you. Once you’ve earned enough pieces of fruit, which is available after most of the levels, you will have the option to play the arcade games contained within the school. “The school?” I hear you say. Yes well, the school is your base, although there is absolutely nothing you can do in there apart from walk around talking to random people who don’t say very much, and play the arcade games. I was praying that it would be the original Pac-Man as I know it, but sadly not. Instead what you are left with is several 2D side scrollers that offer a little distraction from the main campaign.
If you’ve finished the main storyline, or have friends round, you can play the offline split-screen multiplayer mode. You won’t want to once you actually try to play it, but the option is there. In this poorly thought out mode you play as the ghosts in a Pac-Man maze and it’s your job to hunt down Pac-Man before any of the other ghosts do. In theory it actually sounds like a fun game, however the way it’s been setup is extremely poor. Firstly, even if you want to play against the AI, the screen still splits into 4 screens. Secondly the games don’t last very long as the AI seem to know where Pac-Man is every time. Thirdly it’s extremely easy to get lost within the maze and you don’t see anyone let alone Pac-Man. Unsurprisingly this is an offline mode only.
Visually and audio wise Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is hitting the nail on the head for the market it is intended for. My TV oozed bright colours throughout the short campaign experience and the characters’ audio is definitely high pitched and child-like to imitate the animated TV series.
To sum up, Pac-Man wasn’t the best gaming experience I’ve ever had, but that was to be expected. It’s a nice stroll through the park for me but if you have children who watch the TV series and enjoy gaming they will be in their element. If you have children who haven’t seen the TV program but just enjoy gaming then again, this type of game will be right up their street. Anything else than that and I suspect it’s not really for you, unless you’re an achievement whore, in which case go out and rent it.
Thanks to Xbox for supplying this game for review.