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Review: How well does 'Pac-Man Museum' chomp on Xbox 360?

Pac-Man Museum features classic titles from 1980 to the modern day
Pac-Man Museum features classic titles from 1980 to the modern day
Namco Bandai

Pac-Man Museum for the Xbox 360


Pac is back and he's brought a collection of his still-running video game series with him. On Tuesday, February 25 the Pac-Man Museum was released for Xbox 360's Arcade.

For $19.99 you get nine Pac-Man titles ranging from the original 1980 arcade classic to the Pac-Man Battle Royale that has been popular in modern arcades for the past few years. As you play through the museum, you earn various stamps based on your score levels and play time. All games feature online leaderboards, something missing from most of these titles during their previous Xbox 360 release in Namco Museum Virtual Arcade.

The current incarnations of Pac-Man and his friends from the hit cartoon Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures are present, so old school purists may want to avert their eyes as the game boots up. Young kids who are just now learning about Pac-Man should be thrilled.

The navigation menus are a little confusing, taking far too many clicks of the controller to get to where you want. One glaring example here would be the leaderboards, which require exiting the game you are playing, going back to the main menu, selecting the leaderboard option and then finding the game you want to check scores on and waiting for it to load up. If they do any kind of updates to this title, this should be first priority.

The games included range from incredibly popular to totally obscure.

- Pac-Man - The original arcade classic plays well and 99 percent accurate to the original coin-op. The graphics that surround the play area are thankfully less busy than the original Xbox Live Arcade download from years ago.

- Ms. Pac-Man - This one is downloadable content only. Right now it is free, but after March it will be $4.99 extra. For some odd reason the sound effects are emulated poorly here. The background "siren" is far too loud, actually drowning out the other sound effects. The sounds of the eaten ghost eyes often disappear after chomping down on blue ghosts. Disappointing to have sound effect problems on the most popular arcade game in United States history, especially if they plan to charge extra for it.

- Super Pac-Man - The underrated 1982 challenger is emulated well. It is using the original Japanese code, meaning that Super Pac moves way too fast. The game over musical ditty is off key.

- Pac & Pal - This 1983 maze puzzler was never released to American arcades. It's differences may confuse those new to it. That hopefully won't deter players from learning it, as the game tends to grow on you.

- Pac-Land - This Super Mario-like side scroller (which actually pre-dates Super Mario Bros.) is here, for what it's worth. Not a bad game, but far better platformers came shortly after the original 1984 release.

- Pac-Mania - This 1987 re-make still holds up as one of the most fun variants of the entire classic franchise. It uses the original Japanese version, meaning there is no level select at the start of the game. Note that some of the soundtrack from this game is used in the present day cartoon.

- Pac-Attack - A fun but somewhat tedious title from the "we need to make a Tetris-like game with our IP" era of video games. Could have used more screen area.

- Pac-Man Arrangement - Hardcore Pac-Man fans will be disappointed that this game is not the same Pac-Man Arrangement that came out in arcades in the mid-1990s. It is the same one released on the previously mentioned Namco Museum Virtual Arcade disc. Seemingly every object on the screen waves, wiggles or shakes, making it hard on the eyes.

- Pac-Man Championship Edition - The original CE title released on the 360. Still fun, but far trumped by the later DX version of the game, which is not included here.

- Pac-Man Battle Royale - This 2011 arcade hit translates well enough, but oddly fails to use near as much screen area as the original arcade version. The computer-controlled opponent is about as dense as a Dinobot politican. The lack of built-in online play here is also mind-numbing, and could have made the purchase price of the whole collection worth it by itself.

This collection is also available on PlayStation 3 and Windows. The Nintendo Wii U and 3DS versions have reportedly been cancelled.

All in all, Pac-Man Museum should give both new and old fans of the classic franchise enough hours of entertainment to be worth the price, but the over-complicated interface and several minor emulation details may leave a bad taste in the mouths of the loyal citizens of Pac-Land.

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