Pac-Man Championship Edition DX was developed and published by NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc. It was released on XBLA on October 17th.
Over the years, we have seen hundreds of Pac-Man remakes. Most of them have been awful in the opinions of Pac-Man enthusiasts. The only iterations that have been well received have been the ones that stayed very close to the original recipe. Without a doubt, Pac-Man Championship Edition was the clear fan favorite of Pac-Man remakes. At least that was the case, until now. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is everything a Pac-Man fan could have dreamed of, and more.
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is essentially Pac-Man Championship Edition on steroids. Don’t let the almost identical title fool you, they added much more than just 2 letters to the title. There are 10 games modes to chose from, each with their own set of 10-20 challenges. Do the math and you have around 125-150 options. There are 8 different background visuals along with 5 different character styles. It pretty much allows you to play any version of Pac-Man to the exact specifications that you desire.
So here’s what we liked:
An insane amount of content – Like I mentioned above, any option you can imagine is probably in this game. At the start, most challenges and game modes are locked. But this isn’t one of those games where you have to be insanely good to unlock the next mode. Simply complete a challenge at any difficulty to unlock the next challenge in line. No ridiculous score requirements or time limits other than the default limits which you can easily pass with the worst of performances.
New ghosts mechanics – As expected, Pinky, Blinky, Inky & Clyde are their usual selves in most game modes. But along with the usual suspects, there are now lines of sleeping ghosts. You can make the game as hard or easy as you would like by choosing whether you want to wake these ghosts or not. Every time you eat a fruit, a new pellet pattern appears on the opposite side of the screen with it’s own set of sleeping ghosts. The more ghosts you wake up, the more you have chasing you in a straight line, but this will also allow you to score higher. You will also notice that once you activate a power pellet, various ghosts following you will have power pellets inside them allowing you to chain ghost kills at an insane rate. This is a nice added touch to anyone wanting to climb the leaderboards.
The addition of bombs – Like every fast paced game with competitive leaderboards, this game now has bombs. But these bombs don’t clear the entire screen as they do in most games. Instead, triggering a bomb will just bump all ghosts that are awake back to the holding box in the middle of the map. This is very convenient for the hard-headed gamer who refuses to go around ghosts. The use of these bombs are also the key to high scores and good time trial results. However, bombs decrease your multiplier and slow down the game speed, but sometimes that is a good thing. It is a much better alternative than dieing and losing 5-10 precious seconds in the death animation.
And here’s what we didn’t like:
The game speed – The better you perform at this game, the quicker it gets. The game speed maxes out at level 50, but 35 probably would have done the game more justice. If you are in full stride as you activate a transformation by eating a fruit, you can literally outrun the graphic transformations. You’ll be in danger of hitting a ghost that hasn’t appeared yet because the new maze didn’t appear until after you ran into a dead end. This is only an issue at top speed levels, but it is a nuisance when you are trying to set high scores and you are forced into using a bomb.
The slow-down death animations – When you are near death in this game, everything slows down allowing you to escape death at the last possible second. The problem is that once you escape death, the game goes right back to normal speed. Going from 0-50 game speed in a millisecond almost always results in more problems than the slow motion allowed you to avoid.
The fact that it is on Xbox – If you are an avid Pac-Man fan and you have played previous XBLA versions of the franchise, then you know exactly where this rant is going. By far, the biggest problem with this game is the fact that Microsoft couldn’t make a decent D-Pad to save their life. So many times you will hit “up” and your character goes “left” because of the terrible controller limitations. You learn to deal with it and compensate for the issue, but you really shouldn’t have to. Microsoft claims to have resolved this issue with their new controller featuring a transforming D-Pad. But from what I have heard, the issue still exists. Listen to Scott Bromley’s take on trying the new controller with this very game in a recent edition of the RebelFM podcast (45:55 – 56:20). If you own both a PS3 and an Xbox 360, buy this game on PS3.
Even with these minor annoyances, this game is the best Pac-Man game ever. You probably won’t ever go back to any other version of Pac-Man after playing this game. This game is countless hours of fun for any gamer no matter what their skill level may be. At the very least, make sure you download the demo and give this game a fair shot. But make sure you have 800 MS points in your account beforehand. You’re probably going to be buying this game immediately and you won’t want to wait that extra 10 seconds to add more MS points to your account.
Score: Buy it!