Friday, June 8, 2007

Pac-Man: Championship Edition

Developer: Namco Bandai
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Release Date:
June 6, 2007
Xbox 360

In a nutshell:
The first real sequel to Pac-Man in 25 years.

0:01 Starting a single player game, I'm confronted with a baffling choice of modes with no explanation. OK... uh... Championship Mode sounds good, I guess.
0:02 Where's the sound? I do a quick reset to figure out if it's a glitch.
0:03 Sure enough. The game loses a lot without the familiar waka-waka-waka
0:05 Right away I like the widescreen maze format (Pac-Man never quite worked on a horizontal TV) and the sparks that show up when you try to turn into a wall. Neat.
0:07 Another nice touch -- the quick disposal of eaten ghosts and the quick return to the same spot when you die. They keep the action moving at a fast pace. Speaking of which, the ever-increasing speed of Pac-Man and the ghosts is a nice touch.
0:10 First round over. I still had three lives left when time ran out. Annoying! Where's the untimed mode?
0:11 I love the color-coded graph of your scoring progress. Hooray for data! Now why can't I seea similar graph on the leadboards?
0:12 Challenge Mode 1 is up next, whatever that means.
0:15 Major gripe: The blue ghost I can't eat looks way too much like the blue ghosts I can eat.
0:16 Done after only 5 minutes of the 10 minutes round. Like the title said, that got pretty challenging, mainly because I wasted all my power pellets in the first minute or so. Whoops!
0:26 Challenge mode 2 ends with 1'20 left. I love the concept of a dark arena only navigable through dots. The subtle lighting halo around Pac-Man is nice too.
0:32 It took me five minutes of Extra Mode 2 to notice that the board itself was changing with each fruit I eat. Cool! Then I abruptly die. Uncool.
0:40 I was in the zone there for a bit, racking up eight lives in one amazing string. It's entirely too easy to get lost in the rhythm of play.
0:46 Extra Mode 1 freaks me out with its long, straight, unchanging corridors.
0:47 Why do they taunt you with replays that you can only watch once and not save for later?
0:53 Completed Extra Mode 1 on my second try. The Achievements are dropping like flies.
1:00 My second try on Championship Mode ends up worse than the first. I'm overthinking things, I think. Time for a break.

Would I play this game for more than an hour: Yes
Why? All the addictiveness of the classic with much less rote memorizability.

This review was based on a copy of the game purchased from Xbox Live.

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