reviews\ Mar 24, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Pac Man World 2 - GC - Review

Okay … let me make a quick confession before I get started. I HATE platformers. I find that jumping from ledge to ledge over and over suspended in the air above pits of lava or a bottomless abyss is very tedious, and is definitely not for me. Because of this, I was a little “iffy” on playing this game from the get go … but I have to say that the little yellow dude really turned my whole perspective around. In addition, I found that once I started playing Pac Man World 2, I had a really hard time putting it down. I felt it was important to give credit where credit is due and give a big round of applause to Namco for this one.  Also, here’s some trivia for you Pac-fans or “I know everything there is to know about video games” folks out there.  What year was Pac-Man originally released, how did the developer Tohru Iwatani come up with the idea, and what was Pac Man’s original name supposed to be? If you know the answer, give yourself a big smile, a pat on the back, and 5 extra bonus points. If not, it’s OK. I’ll tell you at the end of the review.


Our story opens up in a quiet village on a quiet island. (If you said the names were Pac-village and Pac-island, you get yet another 5 bonus points.) Under the cover of darkness, those good for nothing ghosts which have haunted every Pac-Man game since the beginning show up to vandalize the village while everyone is sleeping. They decide to pick the golden fruit of the ancient tree which has stood in the middle of the little town for centuries, and wind up getting more than they bargained for. Upon doing this, they unknowingly release the biggest and baddest ghost that there has ever been, named “Spooky”, who enlists the ghosts who have released him to help him destroy Pac Man and his friends for good. The next morning, the knowledgeable and friendly Professor Pac informs Pac Man of the history revolving around Spooky’s imprisonment, and sends Pac Man off to find the golden fruit which have been stolen and will send Spooky back to his prison for good.


In order to help Pac Man complete his quest, you will guide the round hero through six different worlds consisting of forests, ice, lava, water, and even a ghost ship doing the things found in every platformer like jumping, dangling from ledges, swimming, and “butt-bouncing” on enemies. You will also find an array of those tasty dots that Pac Man just can’t stop eating, as well as the various assortment of fruit for bonus points which signified what level you were on in the original coin – op title. Namco also added some different things to each world, which really help break the monotony and repetition found in a lot of other platformer titles. In addition to running and jumping, you will also get to ice skate, rollerblade, and even pilot a submarine in shooter game fashion through the murky depths of the water world. All this put together makes it really fun, and you never really know what to expect as you move forward through the game.


Now, no good Pac Man title would be complete without mazes. While it is not the main focus of the game, Namco has put the original goods which have made previous versions of this game so addictive into this title as well. Throughout the levels, you will come to certain areas which have a grid like setup of dots and “Power Pellets” and will usually have a couple of ghosts hanging around nearby, and this is one place you get to go old school and chomp away. In addition to bonus fruit being found, you can also find “Galaxians” (Another Namco coin – op title trademark) which will transport you to a 3-D maze level where you get to do what we all grew up loving to do in the arcade … run through the maze, eat the dots, grab a power pellet, and devour ghosts until the screen is clear. After clearing the maze stages, you can go back to Pac Village and visit the Pac Arcade where you can replay the 3-D mazes that you have successfully done just for fun. The Pac Arcade is also the place to sit back and relax while you play some of the classics like the original Pac Man, Ms. Pac Man, and Pac-Mania. These are accessed by finding a certain number of game tokens which are scattered throughout each level, and comes in really handy when you grow tired of the “run and jump” concept to provide a well needed break in the action from time to time.


Graphically, this is one heck of a nice looking title. Everything is in a wide array of bright and vivid colors, and the environments and backgrounds really set the tone for the stages you will encounter. There were also some really nice touches done in certain areas like a cloud of powder from falling snowballs or a blanket of morning mist on the ground of the forest, and each world has a little something that helps to make it a little different from other platformer titles out there. Pac Man World 2 also has some really good sound effects … and you will often times find yourself humming the music which was found in the classic arcade versions but has been re-done in more of a modern style long after turning the game off and doing something else.


Unfortunately, I am sad to report that not all was well and good in the world of Pac Man. Two things which can kill any video game out there regardless of all the good stuff it has are camera problems and bad control. The control for Pac Man World 2 is very good and very easy to pick up and play, so I guess you can narrow down which one it is. There are times where the action gets going too fast for the camera to keep up, and will often cause you to plummet into a ravine or lose valuable health because you landed on something you weren’t supposed to. The right analog stick will allow you to move the camera where you feel most comfortable with it, but many areas will not allow you to move it at all anyway which makes it useless from time to time. Although this is not the norm or something which happens constantly, the times that it does happen can get frustrating due to “do overs” and can quickly turn the 3 – letter word “PAC” into one with four letters, if you catch my drift. The other downside to this game comes in the overall presentation. Due to it’s cute, bright, and colorful graphics … many adults may pass this game up or get it for kids. Due to the difficulty of many of the stages, younger gamers may get extremely frustrated with it, and parents can bet on hearing “Mom/Dad! I need your help on this” echoing through the house more than once while it’s being played.


All being said and done, this is definitely one of the best games I have played on Gamecube. Even the occasional camera problem didn’t hinder my enjoyment of this one, and I would definitely tell any adult out there that they would be making a mistake by passing this one off as a “kid’s game”. As much as I dislike platformers, this one has to be pretty darn good to not only to keep me interested, but keep me coming back for more over and over again. So, if you aren’t somebody who’s picked up “Pac fever” over the past 20+ years, go grab this one and join in the fun with the rest of us. Oh yeah … Pac Man was originally released in 1980, the concept came from a pizza with one slice missing while Tohru Iwatani was at dinner, and the original name was “Puck Man” … which was probably changed due to the abundance of “creative” graffiti which can be found here in the U.S.. Don’t ever think that you don’t learn something new everyday.



Gameplay: 8
Definitely easy to pick up and play, and a lot of fun as well. There are enough things to set this one apart from other platformers on the market, and it was nice of Namco to add things in which break the repetition of constant jumping and running, like mazes and an “arcade” to play classic Pac Man titles in. It’s hard to get all of the fruit and dots on each stage, and you will find yourself playing it over and over again trying to get all of the items or 3-D mazes unlocked. Unfortunately some occasional camera problems can be frustrating, but it’s not a constant problem or one that will cause you to stop playing the game.  


Graphics: 9.2
Really bright and colorful 3-D worlds make this a great game to look at as well as play. Everything is very vivid and some areas are very detailed, while others will have some extra things added in to set the atmosphere and add some additional realism. This game really used the Gamecube’s power to eliminate aliasing (Jagged lines), nasty pop-up in the distance, or clipping issues with the environments.


Sound: 8.5
Simple yet satisfying. The mix of classic arcade Pac Man sounds with updated noises really works well, and the music sets the tone for the stage. The re-made classic music from the coin – op titles sounds really good, and is pretty catchy as well.


Difficulty: 7
Challenging enough to be fun and something that you won’t go breezing through in a matter of a couple of hours. Unfortunately this game may be very appealing to the younger audience, who may find frustration in some of the more difficult levels and might cause some thrown and/or broken controllers from time to time.


Concept: 8.5
Definitely a great new remake of an older classic, but the classic stuff has been kept in the game as well. Namco put out the side scrolling 3-D “Pac Man World” on PSX a few years ago, but this has multiple new levels, stages, and has gone to a fully 3-D environment.


Multiplayer: N/A


Overall: 8.9
Definitely a fun and enjoyable all around gaming experience. If you’re looking for a good platformer, you’d be hard pressed to find a better one, and this one will be a good buy and will provide hours of amusement for just about anyone. Hey … if someone like me who doesn't even like platformers can enjoy it as much as I have, I’m sure that you will too.



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