Pac-Man is a short name with a long history in gaming. Since 1980 Pac-Man has been entertaining people in games and cartoons. Earlier this year when he returned to the small screen in a brand new cartoon series, it was only a matter of time before the video game tie-in followed. So is Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures good or another “rush to market” game? Let’s get chomping.
Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is set in the Pac-world city of Pacopulis. Pac-Man is a high school student who, with the help of his friends (and four ghosts), protects the city from Betrayus, the Lord of the Ghosts and ruler of the Netherworld. Betrayus has stolen the “Frigidigitator” from the scientist Sir Cumference and sent his ghosts to cause chaos around the city. President Spheros enlists Pac-man’s aid once again to help save Pacopulis.
The story is very thin and is mainly used to move the game along. To further confuse matters there are references to the cartoon series. For example, the names of Pac-man’s friends aren’t mentioned until well into the game, even though they are there from the beginning. So unless they player has watched the cartoon, some things will just fly over their heads.
Controls and Gameplay
Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is an old school style 3D platforming game. The controls are pretty simple with move, jump, chomp, and special power buttons. As you move around areas you eat pellets, some of which are hidden in bushes, recycle bins, and vending machines. There are also different power pellets that give Pac-Man special powers like the ice pellet that lets Pac-Man shoot a freeze ray or the chameleon pellet that lets him become invisible and swing from a long sticky tongue.
The ghosts Pac-Man fights all have different powers of their own; red ones can teleport under Pac-Man, green ones spit slime, etc. When Pac-Man starts finding the special power pellets the specialized ghost also start appearing. For instance when Pac-Man finds the ice pellet a flaming ghosts appears that he has to freeze before he can chomp them.
There is a four player game that puts a twist on the classic Pac-Man gameplay. The four players are ghosts in a 3D version of the maze where they chase down or avoid a computer controlled Pac-Man, depending on whether or not he has eaten a power pellet.
Graphics and Sound
The look of Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is the same computer animation look of the cartoon. That Pixar-esque look many cartoons have taken on in recent years.
The voice acting is a bit lacking with the actors spitting out sphere and circle puns with the enthusiasm of an imported cartoon than has been dubbed for English speaking audiences. The music is ok, but the sound effects are a mixed bag. Some sound effects are taken straight from the classic arcade game the rest are old familiar cartoon zings, splats, and blams that you’ve heard in every cartoon since the dawn of time.
Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is a game that would have been a bit hit back in the days when every other game was a variation on the 3D platforming style. Now it feels a bit dated. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s still a viable genre and perfect for the age group it aimed for, younger kids. For a more experienced gamer it will feel slow. Levels start out fairly simple and are easily gone through. It’s the later levels that things really start to pick up with the need to swap between the specialized power pellets to defeat ghosts and maneuver through the levels.
On the whole it’s not a bad game. Kids who follow the cartoon are sure to enjoy it, since they will know the back-story and references the game makes. Those that have not seen the cartoon may find the story weak and the gameplay too simple unless they stick with it. Older gamers may enjoy the retro style platforming, but they too may tire quickly unless they stick with it.
Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is an OK entry into the overall entertainment world that is Pac-Man. It stumbles a bit but is worth a look, I rate it 3 out of 5.
Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is rated E+10 for Everyone 10 and Older for Animated Blood, Cartoon Violence, and Comic Mischief by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB)
Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is available now. For more information see the official Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures web site.