E3 2013 Preview: Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures isn't a game you'll want to play
The first video game I was ever exposed to at the age of four years old was Super Mario Bros. on the NES. That led to me later play Super Mario Bros. 3, the very game that would go on to become my favorite title of all time. That's an iconic classic that not only holds up, but it's incredibly inviting and easy to get completely engulfed in. That's why it saddens me that for a lot of kids these days, their first foray into the world of video games might actually be Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Now, let's get one thing perfectly clear here: I don't think Ghostly Adventures will necessarily turn out to be a criminally bad game. Having said that, it's clear where its intentions rest. This is a game created for the sole purpose of enticing the kiddies to ask their parents to buy it for them as it's based on the upcoming CG animated show of the same name. From a business perspective, that's certainly okay, but the four-year-old in me who started out playing Super Mario Bros. is not happy for the other children.
Ghostly Adventures is a 3D platformer that stars the titular Pac-Man. For the most part, it's a fairly inoffensive game with the usual genre tropes. You've got vanishing platforms, enemies, and power-ups. For some reason, Pac-Man can eat ghosts whenever he wants, even if he hasn't consumed a Power Pellet. Apparently this is due to the fact that the round hero has been eating pellets since he was a kid, making him invulnerable to the fatal effects of eating ghosts seen in every other Pac-Man game ever created.
There is indeed a power-up that turns ghosts blue, but after utilizing it, Pac-Man sticks his tongue out, inexplicably sending the ghosts into a frenzy. He can also turn into a chameleon. This allows the protagonist to become invisible and surprise the ghosts. He can then use that suggestively flexible tongue to latch onto vertical bars and swing toward other platforms.
The camera in Ghostly Adventures isn't exactly stellar. Navigating levels isn't really problematic, but eating ghosts can be a pain. This is because even when a ghost appears to be right in front of Pac-Man, performing the chomp action doesn't always yield successful results. There were many instances during my time with the playable demo where I attempted to eat a nearby ghost, only to fail and see that I completely missed the darn enemy.
Ghostly Adventures is a game that's intended for today's adolescent audience. That's actually kind of a shame because there are better modern games that could deliver a better inaugural experience into gaming for kids. This isn't a blasphemously horrid title, but it's also not something I would ever play to completion happily. If you're reading this, chances are you won't buy Ghostly Adventures for yourself. Keep it that way, but also try to spare any little ones from playing it and, I don't know, tell them to play the vastly superior Pac-Man Championship Edition DX instead. Or Super Meat Boy. That would be a good one to get 'em started, too.
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