Article first published as PlayStation 3 Review: ‘Pac-man and the Ghostly Adventures’ on Blogcritics.With both Microsoft and Sony releasing new consoles, the 2013 E3 Expo in Los Angeles contained a surprising amount of classic gaming. While Nintendo is the usual suspect in this regard and certainly lived up to their reputation, a number of early gaming icons were receiving reboots. Not only was Sega showing a new "Sonic the Hedgehog" game, but they were showing of their "Castle of Illusion" remake. Capcom had "Duck Tales" on display and Namco was reintroducing "Pac-Man." There is of course a new animated show, by the same name that precedes "Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures."
The "Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures" game’s story is inspired by the new show and features the new and reimagined characters from the animated series. The game begins as menacing ghosts escape from the Netherworld to invade Pac World. It’s then up to Pac-Man and his best friends, Spiral and Cylindria to protect the city and rescue the helpless citizens. The new show itself is somewhat of a reinvention of the classic narrative. In The Ghostly Adventures some of the ghosts, including the original protagonists are actually Pac’s friends.
The story translates into a fairly straight 3D platformer in "The Ghostly Adventures." Actually, the beginning levels are almost too straight and linear. Throughout the game it is pretty much a Point A to Point B affair, although as the game progress they do manage to mix it up a little bit. Pac-Man does get some power up suits and even transforms into I giant rolling ball. Unfortunately, these transformations achieve mixed results. There are plenty of secret and optional areas and of course each world does end with a boss fight.
In "The Ghostly Adventures," Pac-Man has only a couple of abilities. He can jump. He can lunge forward to chomp and he can also do a belch roar, when he’s full. The lunge never feels very fluid, which is unfortunate because it’s the chief mechanic of the game. That’s how you get your bonuses and of course how you eat all of the bad ghosts. When you get a new suit, like the lizard suit, the lunge changes to a tongue grab which you can use to eat bad guys and swing from poles. The tongue on the suit is fairly short, so you’re not going to be swinging around "Prince of Persia" or "God of War"-style.
The art style of Pac-Man is pretty sparse and its translation in "The Ghostly Adventures" feels a little low budget. This is most noticeable in the school that serves as a hub and first world. The later areas are all fairly distinct and interesting, but there is a certain simplicity that permeates throughout the game. You could easily consider, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventure a kid’s game, but the camera will likely frustrate younger and novice players.
As you might expect from a Pac-Man game, there are plenty of collectibles and unlockables in "The Ghostly Adventures." There are even some Pac vehicles you can drive around. Surprisingly, the game also features a multiplayer option which allows up to four players to play as ghosts and take on Pac-Man. While there’s not really anything here that’s great, I’ve certainly played worse games. "Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures" is probably best suited for the under ten year old gamer, though some slightly older kids, depending on their gaming experience, might have some fun with it for a little while too.
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