Pacopulis is under attack yet again from the ghostly Betrayus and his minions in "Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures" and starting today gamers in the US can help fight them off. The game has Pac-Man running, biting and jumping through a myriad of different levels as he attempts to fight off a horde of ghosts while saving his homeland.
A video game that is based on a television series can be quite problematic. Likewise when talking about a television series or movie that is based on a video game. It seems as if these mediums would make natural crossover partners but the end product is rarely all that good. When a game is based on a movie or television series, the creators, in this case Namco Bandai; are relying on the show’s fan base to love the video game as well. The creators are also relying heavily on the players understanding the subject matter of the game.
This is the first real problem with “Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures.” While there is an introduction to the storyline at the beginning of the game, the player doesn’t get much of a backstory when it comes to any of the characters. The game opens with Pac-Man, Spiral and Cylindria entering Sir C’s lab. None of the characters, beyond Sir C are named and gamers are going to have to wait until later in the story to get the side-kick’s names.
Once inside the lab, Pac-Man and friends learn that the city is under attack and that a device that is apparently important to fans of the show has been stolen. It is the player’s job to navigate through several different levels and worlds in order to defeat Betrayus and his evil minions and retrieve the device. This appears to bring up the second problem with “Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures.” While there is a basic story set up for the game, this is hardly story driven. Players run through the worlds, collecting the little yellow dots that harken back to the old game.
Gamers also collect power-ups in the form of different kinds of fruits and other food, but as far as what the point of running through these levels is, there isn’t much in the way of direction. The player knows that the point is to get to the end of the level, he or she knows that they are supposed to chomp ghosts and avoid obstacles, but there isn’t any indication as to why they are running through these levels or where they are in relation to the story.
The game starts off in a setting that is clearly Pacopulis but then has the player journey to a world set in some sort of a Mayan temple. There is no backstory for this, or explanation as to why you find yourself there. Namco Bandai would have helped themselves to include something as simple as the scenes that are included in games like “Angry Birds” as far as letting players know how the world fits into the game.
While there are obvious holes, “Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures” certainly isn’t all bad. For old school gamers, have the waka-waka sounds built in from the old game is a nice touch. In this version, Pac-Man can chomp any old ghost he wants as long as the timing of the chomp is right. If the timing is off, he will take some damage and can actually lose his life. There is a function where players can scare ghosts that are in the immediate vicinity and they will turn the familiar shade of blue. These ghosts are easier to chomp and won’t fight back while they are scared.
Pac-Man can also gobble down balls that specifically grant him special powers. Pac-man can become Ice-Pac, Fire-Pac and Iguana-Pac other specially powered up characters. These characters usually have a direct correlation to the worlds the player finds himself. This is both helpful and makes gaining the powers a bit too easy. This is clearly a game aimed at younger aged children and the developers did a good job of making sure that it wasn’t too difficult. Still, it seems as if the special power ups would have been a bit more special if it wasn’t quite so easy to find them. If Pac-Man is hit by a ghost, he loses the special power. Luckily for him, there is an orb with that power usually floating close by.
Despite being built for the younger set, one impressive part of the game is that some of the puzzles are actually difficult enough that they require some investigation and working things out. “Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures” isn’t all running and dashing. In between levels players can also visit Pac-Man’s high school and talk to his friends and enemies alike. There are also mini-games here that can be played once enough fruit power-ups have been collected.
In addition to being able to play as Pac-Man gamers can also take on the roles of the ghosts in a multi-player addition that seems like a good idea, but also seems a bit unpolished. As many as four different players can take part in this mode that harkens back to the old “Mario Kart” type games. Each player selects one of four ghosts and then watches action unfold in a quadrant of the screen. In the middle of the screen is another readout set up to look like the old Pac-Man game screen. The problem with the multi-player is that the goal is to “defeat” your enemies but there is no real explanation of how to go about doing this. The quadrant look also makes it extremely difficult to know where a player is or where they are going.
- Simple controls means that players can pick up the controller and get to playing.
- Puzzles to advance are surprisingly tough and just challenging enough to make the game fun
- Old school sounds harken back to the good old days and meld the next generation with its predecessors
- It is a little too easy to gain the special powers. The powers would seem more special if the globes were a bit harder to find.
- The story behind the game isn't laid out well enough for people who don't already know it.
- Multiplayer seems a bit unfinished, would also be better if it connected to Xbox Live.
"Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures" is available today for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, the Wii U and on Steam for an MSRP of $39.99. A Nintendo 3DS version will be available starting November 5.
An Xbox 360 copy of this game was given to Examiner.com for purposes of this review.