Who knew the Pac could return with such an outstanding version of its formal self? No less, offered as a downloadable game on a console. It’s the next evolution of the classics of all classics and it’s safe to proclaim that the Pac is back.
In a skeptical download, I hit the Xbox Live Network and put in the credits to download some sweet Pac-Man love. I already have the original in my collection of Xbox Live Arcade games and even though I have some great picks, I was over anticipating the joy of Pac-Man Championship Edition. The only thing I feared was being let down by the little yellow, pellet eating fellow. T he Microsoft credits aren’t really a big deal; it’s more of an issue of video game nostalgia pride and a love for all things sacred which includes making a new Pac-Man game based on the original. So, pressed the button downloaded the full version with hopes that the Pac hasn’t gone the way of the hedgehog.
Once downloaded and loaded up, I checkout out the marketed "Next Evolution" of Pac-Man and I was astounded. The new Pac-Man Championship Edition game rocks, possibly harder then the original. Even with the core game mechanics the same, the slightly changed graphics and switched up board and game style had me sitting with a big smile on my face. Some might think, “It’s only Pac-Man”, but this only Pac-Man delivers the goods and then some. If you’re into retro gaming, or want a fun and simple arcade game to enjoy, Pac-Man Championship Edition is your ticket. Pac-Man also had help from the promotion of Pac-Man World Championship which even had a Canadian representing for the gold. It seems the timing is right and Pac-Man is on a steady roll.
Pac-Man Championship Edition holds the same premise as the old game, eat all the pellets, avoid the ghosts and grab the extra points and power pellets set up around the level. What has changed is that Pac-Man has become a timed survival game with a limited amount of pellets on screen at once. Pac-Man Championship Edition has six modes, two that consist of 5 minute rounds and the others, 10 minute rounds. If you can survive the time, you’re score is sent to the Xbox Live leader boards which achievements attached to the winnings. This gives Pac-Man a new perspective then eating dots on a maze that doesn’t change. It’s not a revolution in gaming; however the timed rounds seem to fit in nicely with the Pac-Man formula.
A few other factors about Pac-Man CE is that the action doesn’t stop and break for a reset, the action keeps rolling and dots keeps reappearing. The ghosts also can be chomped down upon without resetting the scoring when you eat multiple pellets. This allows you to gain some big points between eating multiple ghosts and grabbing extra fruit and items that randomly pop up during the gameplay. Pac-Man CE also seems to be running a little faster then the original which increases in speed as the timer ticks away. Lastly Pac-Man CE sports a “dark” mode that puts a shadow over the maze walls with only the dots illuminated. The dark gameplay is fun although gimmicky, it ads a little variation for those who have begun to master the regular modes.
Pac-Man’s look in the Championship Edition keeps the same styling of the original game without bringing in any 3D elements, or other nonsense. I’m glad a sensible approach was taken to keep Pac-Man close to its roots with a few flashes of innovation. One bonus to a new Pac-Man is clear 720 progressive scanned images across the 16:9 aspect ratio. The entire product looks crisp with a smoothing over to keep new HD freaks happy along with the old faithful traditionalists. Don't worry, if I made Pac-Man sound too flashy, the game is based on the same block pixels as the past. Before I forget the sound is also a kick back and kept close to the old sound effects with some ambient noise added to the mix. I love the Pac-Man death wucka and it remains true to the original, the "wucka" and other sounds are as timeless as the little fellow himself.
For the price tag of 800 MS Points, Pac-Man Championship Edition is priced right. The action is fun and simple to enjoy while keeping a traditional approach with a few presentation and gameplay upgrades. Sure, Pac-Man Championship Edition could have added some multi-player or more pizzazz to try and make Pac-Man a little more modern, but I like it simple nostalgia feeling Namco Bandai has accomplished. If you like the classics, or want to see what the new Pac is all about, check out this Pac-Man Championship Edition exclusively for the Xbox Live Arcade.
Final Score: 9