Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pac 'N Roll

Developer: Namco
Release Date: Aug. 16, 2005
Systems: Nintendo DS
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web Site

In a nutshell: So, like, Pac-Man is a ball now?

0:01 The Pac-Man-ball greets me with a chirpy "Pac N Roll" on the title screen but it sounds more like "Kakuro." It seems the person who rented this before me made it all the way to world 7, "Pac-Moon." Way to go!

0:02 "Go to the exit in the goal area to complete the stage." Simple enough.

0:03 Rolling is a simple matter of a quick swipe in the direction you want to go on the touch screen. Pac-Man-ball's movements are a little jerky -- he'll quickly speed up then lose his momentum almost instantly.

0:04 So far it's just rolling around collecting dots. I need 80 to get through a gate. Easy peasy.

0:05 First stage done. Well that was painfully straightforward. What's next?

0:06 If I get caught by ghosts I have to flick them away with the stylus. This sounds ever so annoying already.

0:07 Sure enough, getting hit by a ghost slows the game to a halt as you tap wildly at the screen. Just let me take my damage and let on with the game, huh? Not everything needs to be an excuse to use the touch screen.

0:08 Hmm, I didn't expect to get stuck so soon, but I can't get up a tilting platform to the ledge above without it dumping me unceremoniously back down.

0:09 Ah ha! Holding the stylus at the screen's edge does a little dash. Where's the helpful hint telling me about this?

0:10 Say what you will, the real genius of the original Pac-Man was the table-turning power pellets. Eating ghosts is just as fun in this game.

0:12 Level 2 completed. The controls allow for some fine navigation through narrow passages. Hope they make me use this soon.

0:13 NOW comes the helpful on-screen hint about the speed boost. Hey, mail that hint back to last level when maybe I would have cared...

0:14 My first death... a tricky jump, followed quickly by my second on the same jump. Harsh.

0:15 My wife tells me this is the "single most annoying video game music experience I've had... and I've had many." I like it... bouncy and repetitive in an old school way. Meanwhile, death No. 3 = game over = restart the level. No biggie.

0:16 Changing the camera angle with the directional pad helps with the jumps. Again, I just had to stumble upon this.

0:18 "Eating Knight Chocolate will turn you into Knight Pac-Man" If only this were true in the real world.

0:20 Knight Pac-Man is sluggish but impervious to arrows. Not to ghosts though... they're just as annoying as ever.

0:21 Eating a ghost with a power pellet on his head gets me that pellet. Doesn't that ghost realize he's making himself a big target? It's like you or me balancing a nitroglycerin bottle on our noggin. Put that thing away somewhere safe, dude!

0:22 As far as I can tell, the giant Pac-Man on the bottom screen serves no real purpose except being EXTREMELY CUTE.

0:24 Winged Pac-Man is light as a feather and can roll in mid-air. He's also a lot faster and smoother rolling. This is officially awesome. I wish this kind of responsiveness was the default

0:26 Ghosts riding in little wind up cars = INCREDIBLY CUTE!

0:27 Tapping and holding the stylus in place stops Pac-Man easily. They really seem to have put some thought into making fine control simple.

0:28 So world 1 is over with no boss fight, no giant puzzle, no nothing. What kind of platform game is this, anyway?

0:29 Now without the wing cap, Pac-Man feels downright sluggish. Sigh.

0:30 Yet another wing cap. Yay! But that means I have to avoid the knight chocolate. Boo.

0:33 The level design is beginning to show some promise, with tilting platform puzzles and twisting hills full of ghosts and power pellets. Fun, if not yet horribly challenging.

0:36 Now there are jump panels. Hard to master the controls on these -- I have to be very precise. Like everything, it's a lot easier and more enjoyable with the wing hat. Sigh again.

0:41 Some nice organic levels design here. This section leads you down a twisty path but allows for more exploration later.

0:43 Pac-Man is bouncing around like a barely controllable pinball on a steeply inclined field.I love it! Reminds me of Sonic's Casino zones.

0:45 Rolling around the inside of an inverted cone is simple and fun. Whee!

0:47 Finally, an honest to goodness boss. You know he's badass because it takes three power pellets eaten in quick succession before you can faze him. Even then you have to eat him three times. Once I figure this out, beating him is not too much of a problem.

0:50 Enough of this "Story" jazz; let's try a time attack. By the way, shouldn't a story mode include, er, a story of some kind. I've seen no kind of narrative yet.

0:52 The level changes a little bit for the time attack, and this throws me just enough to be really slow in the time attack. I suck!

0:55 Can we call Challenge mode "Annoying Wind mode" instead? because so far it mainly seems to add an annoying wind to a level that I used to like.

0:57 Never mind, it actually changes the level up with some tough jumps, hidden gems, and a strict time limit. I like how you can continue to practice the level even if you fail the time challenge.

Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes.
Why? I'm a sucker for a good platform game, and like Kirby: Canvas Curse, this one manages to be an innovative use of the DS and fun at the same time. A tough combo.

This review based on a retail copy rented from GameFly.

1 comment:

Hoffmania said...

You probably should've cleared the data first (if there is an option for that). There is a story to the story mode, but I guess since it'd already been passed by the person before you it didn't show you the cut scenes.

Have to agree about the game, though. Much fun.