Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures Review: Waka waka weak

What the hell happened to you, Pac-Man? You used to be cool! Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures isn't necessarily a game I'd say is poorly made in terms of its mechanics, but it is ridiculously dull, and it's entirely soulless. Based on the CG series of the same name, this game offers nothing for actual fans of video games, and absolutely nothing for fans of the yellow spherical mascot's classic arcade escapades. Ghostly Adventures is a formulaic (and typical) cash-in, but hey, if your kids don't know any better, they might have some fun with it.

It makes sense that this game is based on a cheesy kids' show, because that's exactly what it feels like. The story is the archetypal save-the-day ordeal, and throughout the course of your adventure you come across a cast of lame, scatterbrained, and overly confident characters hardly worth caring about. Again, if you have kids or younger siblings who love this stuff, they may get a kick out of it. I know, because I played Ghostly Adventures a few times in front of my two-year-old nephew and he totally ate it up.

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Funnily enough, I wouldn't necessarily call the platforming gameplay here bad. Make no mistake about it, this game isn't good, but mechanically, it's impossible to call it complete crap. Instead, Ghostly Adventures is a goofy cash-in that works well pretty much most of the time. It has its moments but fails to deliver anything worth getting excited about. Simply put, this game is boring all too often, and its platforming reflects that very clearly.

I hate to bring up 3D Mario games, but I'm going to do it anyway, because really, there's no other way to explain what's wrong with Ghostly Adventures. While Nintendo's mustachioed plumber often engages in truly brilliant 3D escapades (oh hi, Super Mario 3D World) rife with satisfying challenge, tricky jumps, simple yet fun combat, and engaging item collection, Pac-Man's latest romp manages to fall short on all of those things. The game is easy, the platforming is lifeless, the combat feels like a nuisance, and snagging collectibles gets old.

Oh, and just like in Mario games, there are power-ups here, too. Surprisingly, these are quite varied and offer something different depending on which one you have equipped. You can turn into a chameleon and become invisible to hide from baddies, become a ball and bounce around, get engulfed in flames and throw around fireballs (yes, just like Mario), and so on. Ultimately, though, the bulk of what you're doing is eating ghosts, which is one of the few things that actually reminds me of the Pac-Man of old.

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Speaking of eating ghosts, Pac-Man can eat most of them whenever he wants, which is historically laughable if you've been following the hero for some time. The reason for this is because he's been taking vitamins (read: popping pills) that have made him immune to eating ghosts, meaning they don't need to be a dark blue anymore for him to chomp them up. That weak explanation aside, it's still pretty stupid that Pac-Man can eat most ghost types at any time. It's one of many things that makes the game way too simplistic for its own good.

If you want a tacked-on multiplayer mode, Ghostly Adventures has this possible desperate desire covered. Basically, you run around maps as ghosts and munch on items and power-ups. It's pitifully simple, lacks an online option (not that anyone would want to play this for long anyway), and is even more boring than the main campaign. Still, like I said, if you're hopelessly eager for this type of mode, here it is. Congrats, I guess.

At least Ghostly Adventures looks pretty good, though. The worlds boast loads of bright colors and have some level of charm. The same can't be said for a lot of the characters (Pac-Man looks especially dumb). That said, there are undoubtedly better-looking 3D platformers out there. For some reason, Super Mario Galaxy instantly comes to mind despite the fact that it's a Wii game. In the end, there's this candy-coated look to Ghostly Adventures that's impossible to hate, especially if you're under seven years of age.

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Oh, there are also sounds in this game, but they don't matter all that much. The voice acting is exactly what you'd hear in a show for kids, which is to say it's nothing especially unique or noteworthy. The music is also quite forgettable. You're treated to a few retro Pac-Man sounds, though if you're anything like me, they'll just depress you because this game isn't Pac-Man Championship Edition DX.

If you have kids who want to play Ghostly Adventures, set those little fools straight and convince them to play something like Mario Galaxy or Mario 3D World. Or hey, why not get them into Kirby? That's another round hero who likes to eat a lot, and his games are actually great, unlike Ghostly Adventures. Even though there's nothing inherently terrible about this game, there's also nothing that's worth paying money for. This is a cash-in at its most, um, cash-in-est. Ghostly Adventures is, for all intents a purposes, a game you should avoid, because it's lame.

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