Saturday, 15 March 2014

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures

34 years ago Pac-Man swept through the gaming world and ate up most of our cash at the arcade. In the subsequent years he has been featured in sequels, spin-offs, television series' and made cameos in a whole bunch of games. But much like Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog, with the arrival of 3D in gaming, there has been a shift in how Namco is approaching our favourite yellow puck. Though Namco still caters to the original Pac-Man concept, there have been a few titles that tried something new. From pinball to kart racing, Pac-Man has tried it all. The latest title in the series out now on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii U and PC, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures takes a tip from Pac-Man World, and brings our favourite small yellow pill eater into the realm of the 3D platforming genre.

Developed by Pac-Mans original creators Namco Bandai Games, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures tries absolutely nothing new, and ends up coming across like a Frankenstein's monster of ideas that have been done to death in gaming. But... you know what? It ain't that bad, and certainly not as bad as some reviewers might try and convince you!

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is based upon the TV series of the same name and focuses on Pac-Man (duh!), an orphaned high-schooler who lives on Pac-World. On Pac-World the little round people who inhabit it live in peaceful coexistence with ghosts, the long time villains of the series. However, Pac-Man and his two friends, Spiral and Cylindria, must pursue Betrayus, an evil ghost who is building an army to invade Pacopolis. As a side note, yes, I know, names like Pac-World, Betrayus and Pacopolis aren't exactly inventive, but hey, it's a game about a yellow orb with legs that goes to high school. Anything goes with a set-up like that!

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is a third-person action platforming game, which at its core uses Pac-Man's classic abilities as a basis for its gameplay. In many ways the game is a very typical platforming fare, so if you've played any platforming game in the day 15 years... you know exactly what you're in for. As always Pac-Man's main focus is eating, and in Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures it remains the same.  From ghosts, food, to power-ups, Pac-Man eats it all, but it's in eating the special power berries where Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures stands out. These power berries unlock a whole host of special abilities. From throwing fireballs, becoming magnetic in order to stick to metal surfaces, being able to turn into a Chameleon to turning Pac-Man into a rubber ball, this addition to gameplay actually keeps it refreshing and is ultimately its saving grace.

The game is divided up into multiple levels with each one broken up into bite-sized chapters. This way of breaking up levels is quite welcome too, as sometimes you'll just want to jump into a certain section, as opposed to restarting the entire level all over again. As expected from any game post-2005 that isn't Super Mario Galaxy, the themes of the levels are pretty standard, whether it's ice, city or jungle themed, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures isn't exactly trying to reinvent the genre. The levels themselves are connected via a hub that you'll use to choose your desired level. Overall level design, though again nothing new, does impress. It kind of reminded me of Spyro the Dragon on the Playstation, both in its colourful presentation and layout. Sure, it isn't ideal, but Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is an undoubtedly comfy game, despite that level of charm mainly coming from how it cheery picks ideas from other titles.

Overall Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is a very safe bet for Namco. It almost tries nothing new. However, despite this it is quite a fun, charming and, like I said before, comfy. While it may bring back some hellish memories of other 3D platformer games with horrific camera systems, it will also bring back some awesome nostalgic memories at times. It ain't perfect, but it's fun!

But wait, there's more! The Nintendo 3DS version of Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is entirely a side-scrolling platformer. Though it does cover the same story and gameplay elements of its console counterpart it feels like a whole new experience!

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is full up on ghosts and just manages a 3/5, []

Denis Murphy

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures at CeX

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