Pac-Man Championship Edition DX Review
After spending many years of my childhood as a diehard Pac-Man fan, I had never envisioned that Namco Bandai could ever take the series any further than they did with Pac-Man Championship Edition that released in 2007. Three years later and I couldn’t be even more wrong as the publisher of the famed yellow hero has raised the ante even more.
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is perhaps the purest iteration of Pac-Man since it debuted in 1980 and Ms. Pac-Man followed up in 1981. Following in the footsteps of its ancestors, Pac-Man CE DX has gamers gobbling up pellets across mazes as ghosts chase them to halt their efforts. To mix things up and test the wit of the gamer, a timer has been added and it’s a race against the clock to rack up points and set records for online leaderboards. In addition, the ghosts remain dormant waiting to be activated on the mazes until the players speed past them. Many iterations and maze changes later, players are capable of building up a long line of ghosts to increase the score multiplier.
Pac-Man CE DX is much less about getting to the next maze and, rather, concentrates on the player’s ability to shave off seconds off their time and adding points to their overall score. In some cases, players will want to avoid the ghosts as eating a ghost will only slow down their speed to clear a maze. In others, successfully eating 20-30 ghosts in a row provides a chance to increase the point tally. The higher the point total, the faster the speed of Pac-Man and his assailants – an overwhelming entertaining occasion no matter what the circumstances since quick thinking is necessary to make tight turns to avoid ghosts.
The title also introduces the ability to use bombs to clear the map of any pesky ghosts that are hot on the trail of the player. The ghosts return to the middle of the maze and will soon be back on the prowl, but for those few seconds, it’s a sigh of relief when a bomb sends the ghosts a packing. If players don’t have any bombs to freely use, CE DX also implements a new slow-motion effect that permits them to make a snap decision to turn away from an approaching ghost. The quick slowdowns never break the momentum of the game, so both major additions are welcomed.
The new additions – sparking around corners included – make Pac-Man CE DX an even more accessible title with less difficulty in the past, but players wanting to reach the top of the leaderboards will have a more challenging time. At one point, I was ranked in the top 200 players in the world after the first week in Time Attack. One week later, I was pushed back into the top 600 and another 400 positions a week after that. It’s safe to say that Pac-Man CE DX is an addicting title for scorehounds who want to topple their friend’s scores and times. It’s comparable to Bizarre Creations’ Geometry Wars Retro Evolved 2: once you start, you’ll never want to stop. Before players know it, it’s 3am in the morning and six hours of playtime have passed and they aren’t even close to beating their rival’s score.
Players looking for a quick 200 GameScore points should look no further than Pac-Man CE DX. After an hour of gameplay, I had earned all of the achievement points and I hadn’t even touched more than one game mode. Add in the ability to play through several different visual styles and it’s increasingly apparent that Namco Bandai went out of their way to allow players to create a unique Pac-Man experience that doesn’t necessitate hours of introductory levels and tutorials.
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is one of the finest games of 2010. It has wit. It has flavor. Most importantly, it has style. Players who specialize in pattern memorization will want to try their hand at Pac-Man CE DX; it’s one of the truly special titles on the Xbox Live Arcade.
[Reviewed on Xbox 360]