Review: PAC-MAN And The Ghostly Adventures Is Frustratingly Fun
PAC-MAN and The Ghostly Adventures is a recently released game based on a 3D animated cartoon series of the same name. Will this be a worthy licensed title or a quick cash grab?
- Worth The Time?If you NEED to play a three dimensional platformer then yes however, I advise to wait for a reduced price.
- Things LovedNice and charming visuals; Solid gameplay in most areas; Interesting power-ups; Combat is mostly fun.
- Things HatedFrustrating fixed camera segments; Frustrating boss encounters; The lives system; Not a ton of replay value; Unnecessary multiplayer.
- RecommendationFor those who enjoy platformers.
- Name: PAC-MAN and The Ghostly Adventures
- Genre: Platformer
- Players: 1-4 players
- Multiplayer: Local: 2-4
- Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, 3DS and Wii U
- Developer: Namco Bandai
- Publisher: Namco Bandai
- Price: R499
- Reviewed On: Xbox 360
Let’s face it, licensed games do not have the best of many reputations out there and personally I feel that it should not be the case. It is a stigma that the videogame industry does not need on top of the ever-increasing complications added over time.
So, how does the PAC-MAN video game that frankly came out of nowhere stand amidst the crowd? Well, it can be seen as a very wholesome and tasty biscuit with a few bits of arsenic added to the dough. You’re bound to find it very enjoyable at times, but every so often you’ll wonder why you are eating it in the first place. Let us delve into the details, shall we?
PAC-MAN has come a long a way since 1980 and it is definitely a name known to those who do not even play games in this day and age and shame them for not playing games in an industry where six million copies of a single game sold is considered a failure. (That’s sarcasm by the way)
Much like Sonic, it is a little bit strange to see a once triumphing two dimensional character prancing about in present time, eating people and this time in three dimensions. However, it must be said that Sonic’s fast paced 3D gameplay didn’t work out as originally intended and only known to provide heart cramps for those, including myself, who tried it, but with this iteration of PAC-MAN where he has a nose and eyebrows, the three dimensional gameplay fits quite well in certain areas, which came as a huge surprise to me, personally.
Events take place with a story that ties in with the animated series and it feels as though the game forgets about the story aspect immediately after the first portion of the game. Platforming games have not focused on story before and it works out for the best as nothing gets in the way of the actual gameplay. It would seem quite hypocritical of me to moan about the lack of story when I love both Rayman Origins and Legends whose stories are also almost nonexistent. The overall frame of the story is that we have a PAC-MAN with a nose, arms, legs and eyebrows attending a school where he is sent on missions to rid the world of ghosts (see original PAC-MAN) and send them back to the Netherworld where they originally come from. How does he do this? Eat ghosts, burp out their eyes at the end of each level, collect fruit and die a lot. What kind of school is this? To make matters even more obscure is the fact that his school also houses its own share of ghostly learners. It is fair to assume this game is not one you buy for the story, but rather the actual gameplay helped along by the aforementioned story.
The whole biscuit analogy above is where the gameplay comes in. There is a lot to like mixed together with hair-pulling, controller-throwing and spouse-cursing segments thrown into the mix. It is both fun with a little dash of challenging at times, but every so often the difficulty spike upwards when it comes to the boss encounters.
The game is divided into chapters, each with its own array of levels. You have a three dimensional platformer with running, jumping, fighting, dodging and different pathways to take every now and again. The platforming is solid and genuinely fun to play most of the time. You run and jump all over the place through various different themed worlds where you will encounter enemies/ghosts along the way. I don’t know if I can call this combat, but the combat has you dodging the ghosts’ attacks whereafter you return the favour by eating them. For the most part, this works well and you’ll feel a sense of smugness after you’ve devoured all ghosts without taking any damage. There were numerous times when PAC-MAN didn’t respond in combat even though I used the correct direction and attack button. This may be due to the fact that the ghosts teleport and fly around in these encounters. An arrow on top of the ghost you are looking at will indicate that this is in fact the one you are targeting.
You also acquire different temporary power-ups throughout the different levels. As the standard PAC-MAN you have one button to initiate him to gobble a designated ghost and another button to scare the ghosts, causing them to turn blue not unlike the original 1980 game where you eat one of a few specifically larger dots. The ghosts in front of PAC-MAN affected by this will try to float away and seize their attacks. It’s a useful tactic for when there are more ghosts than usual. Each power-up has its own set of abilities such as a power-up which outfits PAC-MAN into a chameleon costume, granting him the ability to turn invisible for a short duration and a ranged attack to use his now lengthy tongue to reach out and pull ghost in for a gobble of two. Other power-ups allow him to use fire and ice attacks to stun icy ghosts or magma ghosts. Once you enter conflict with these foes, you have scant time to have a look around and see which power-up is available nearby. One hit from a ghost will turn PAC-MAN to his usual form, but the power-ups respawn at the exact same spot, so you won’t have any trouble dispatching an irregular ghost that requires additional whittling down.
Some of these power-ups are required to traverse the levels, for example you will need the chameleon power-up to swing at specific areas in order to advance. Another power-up turns PAC-MAN into a sizable stone ball version of himself that is also needed to progress. The power-ups add some nice variety in gameplay, but have some finicky controls of their own that may lead to frustration.
Speaking of frustration, the game has a lives system. An unnecessary feature. In my case, this did not motivate me to be more careful with where I jumped, how careful I was in combat or how I used the power-ups, but instead, it added an unnecessary frustration factor to a decent mix. You can find pies when returning to your psycho school and in the levels to add to the pool of lives you have. These lives will be whittled down during fixed-camera areas and the boss encounters which is my major gripe with the game’s design.
The boss “fights” mostly have fixed camera perspectives and PAC-MAN is usually made less mobile from the very start of the encounter or as you make progress in the specific encounter. I have no problem with a challenging boss encounter, but there is a fine line between challenging and frustrating. Think of a very narrow path to roll around in circles with PAC-MAN restricted to the rolling stone power-up in order to do damage while you roll around the boss. You have to use other rolling balls and direct them to the enemy while dodging burning balls. If you fall down once as a result to a delayed response from PAC-MAN due to this power-up, a life is lost. This is not even mentioning the other boss encounters. Frustration is the order of the day. (Kudos to you if you noticed the STD and the band mentioned in this paragraph.)
The game features a local multiplayer mode which is poorly implemented. This mode can support up to four players. The screen is divided into four separate segments despite the fact of there being less than four players. You team up together as ghosts and hunt down PAC-MAN in a three dimensional maze shaped as the original 1980 game’s level. Your view is extremely limited and PAC-MAN will end your ghostly cooperative hunt swiftly and it only ends up feeling unnecessary and shoddy. If there was a genuine need to include multiplayer, a cooperative mode for the single player mode would’ve been a blast, but that sadly isn’t the case.