Pac-Man Championship Edition DX - Playstation Network Review

I've had this game for a while now. I actually picked it up one night on a whim because my wife enjoys retro games more than most of the current ones out there. She played it for about two hours and has played it a few times more, and enjoyed it - making it a decent addition to the collection for that reason alone in my opinion. But, I kept reading really good things about it - IGN even scored it a 10, and like Space Invaders - Infinity Gene, it seemed like a pretty solid idea:

Take a classic game, alter the way it plays on a fundamental level, re-skin it with all new graphics and put it out at a fairly low price. The big change to the gameplay is in your objectives. You're not just running around a static map chomping away pellets while avoiding a handful of ghosts. While the map itself in DX doesn't change, the pellets continually change - you're presented with a section of pellets, and when fruits pop up, you eat one and reveal more pellets. You do this against a clock generally, trying to beat the clock initially - and your best times after that. Also, the ghosts brought friends - lots of them. As you move around the map, 'sleeping' ghosts will wake up as you pass them, creating sometimes hilariously long trails of ghosts behind you. Grabbing a power pellet and chomping down on 20 or so of these guys can be pretty rewarding. The better you do, the faster the game goes, which make it more challenging for obvious reasons. So, how's the formula hold up in my mind?

Graphics - 8:

I'm grading on a bit of a scale here. It's a downloadable game at a fraction of the price of a brand new AAA title like MLB The Show or Gears of War. What they did with our lovable pizza-shaped friend was give the maps, ghosts and Pac-man a ton of different character designs and skins. Some are more appealing than others, but the quality is actually pretty good on all of them (though one of the map skins - I can't think of it's 'letter name' - but it has a very neon lights look to it, while looking great, sometimes got a bit too 'busy' for its own good and made it hard to see what you were doing).

Sound & Music - 7:

The music's pretty good, and as time counts down the intensity picks up. It's a nice, non-visual cue while you play. The sound effects don't fare quite as well in my mind. On the one hand, it's Pac-man, so I'm not expecting Dragon Age quality dialog, but the fact of the matter is: the sound scheme is pretty repetitive pretty quickly.

Gameplay - 7:

As when I commented on Space Invaders - you know what you're getting here for the most part. So either you enjoy the basic formula or you don't. Pac-man handles pretty well, and they added some fun twists to the classic formula by having chains of ghosts, moving pellet layouts and 'bombs' you can use to send ghosts in your immediate vicinity back to their starting point for a short spell. Pac-man handles pretty well and the menus are easy to get around. If you dig the game itself, there's not much to complain about here. I did find that my thumb cramped a bit on extended gaming sessions. Maybe it's the constant movement, or that I was using the directional pad more than the analog stick - something I almost never do, but somehow it just felt more natural to me.

Intangibles - 8:

There's plenty of maps, fresh visuals and various length time trials to keep you busy. There are leader boards for the ultra competitive as well. It all works just fine and I found it entertaining. The ability to change your visuals helps keep things fresh longer too. That said. there really is not a ton of depth here. You unlock alternate versions of the same basic game play. It's fun, but after a dozen or so hours, I was losing interest as well.

Overall - 7.5:

It's all very well done, and at its price Pac-man Championship Edition DX is a pretty good value. I wanted to rate it a bit higher, but I was a bit disappointed at how it was received. I figured between my wife and kids, this game would get a lot more mileage, but it did not seem to have the level of appeal to them as I thought it would. They played it for a short time, but as more of a curiosity than something they were generally interested in - my kids in particular. There is some pretty serious nostalgia value to the game, despite its various face lifts, but maybe it does not resonate quite as well with younger kids as I thought it would. And now that I have played it as much as I have (in total, probably about 12-14 hrs), I don't foresee much more than a few short stints with it here and there myself.


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