Pac-Man is a rare example of a video game character that transcends age.
Anyone is capable of enjoying a traditional Pac-Man game as long as they're old enough to know not to gum the controller. That doesn't mean Namco Bandai is content to let the Pacster's marketing potential go to waste, hence the yellow fella's multimedia redesign. First stop: Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, a 3D platforming title that ties in with the new cartoon series of the same name.
Like its animated source material, the Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures game is bright, colorful, full of cheesy jokes, and covered with more slime than the inside walls of a garbage bin. Pac-Man and his pals now attend the adorably-named Maze High, where they presumably learn the basics of pellet-munching and ghost-gobbling. However, Pac-Man quickly gets a permanent hall pass when it becomes evident that he's the only member of his species capable of putting down the evil Betrayus and his gaggle of ghosts.
The story for the Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures game ties directly into the animated series, with the target audience for both being between the ages of seven and 12. The game's platforming action takes few risks and is pretty to look at, another indicator that this "new" Pac-Man is engineered to capture young hearts and minds.
The game takes you through cities, temples, and even Betrayus's Neteherworld home, a fiery place populated by monsters, dragons and Cyclops ghosts with upper-class English accents. Pac-Man hops from platform to platform while scarfing down ghosts. He can also find and eat Power Berries that grant him special powers. He can freeze enemies with the help of the Ice Berry, roast with the Fire Berry, and snag poles and bad guys alike with the long tongue granted to him by the Chameleon Berry.
By itself, the action in Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is solid, if unremarkable. Unfortunately, the game's fun factor takes a major knock thanks to an in-game camera that's screwier than Clyde after snacking on grown-up brownies. The camera never seems to position itself behind Pac-Man unless you actively adjust it - not something you always have time for when you're navigating disappearing platforms.
Young Pac-Fans may still get a kick out of The Ghostly Adventures, especially if they love the cartoon. The game's visuals, voice cast, and story all echo the animated series, though the latter doesn't force you to do battle with bosses while giving you a close-up view of Pac-Man's eye.
The Nitty Gritty
- Visuals: The Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures game is pretty much the cartoon come to life, so you can expect a compelling world that's teeming with activity. Why is the President of Pac-Land hanging out at Maze High, though? Should he be doing that?
- Sound: The soundtrack features lots of surprisingly rich tunes, and the arcade-based sound effects are nostalgic as all heck. The voice acting is decent, though the puns will make you want to bury your head in your couch cushions if you're below the age of ten.
- Interface: The controls are responsive, but again, the camera comes perilously close to wrecking the experience at times. It's particularly bad during a boss fight that requires Pac-Man to run around a hot grill while scarfing down tons of awful ghost food. How is Pac-Man supposed to enjoy his maggotroni and cheese if the camera is jammed up his butt?
- Lasting Appeal: There's a mediocre multiplayer arena and a few extras to collect, but the whole experience shouldn't run more than a handful of hours.
Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures hardly does justice to the hungry fella's legacy, but it may prove to be an adequate diversion for younger players, particularly if they enjoy the show.