STAFF REVIEW of Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures (Xbox 360)

Friday, November 8, 2013.
by Stephen Cameron

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures Box art As a child of the 80’s, Pac-Man was just about everywhere. I for one was completely guilty of getting on the Pac-Man fever bandwagon. I had the Pac-Man fever vinyl record, the Coleco stand-up arcade toy, the t-shirts, video games, and basically I was eating, sleeping and breathing Pac-Man back then. However, that was thirty years ago and I’m not so sure how Pac-Man has managed to stay in the hearts of so many these days. Now I don’t want to start off this review on a negative note but one has to be left wondering how a thirty year old franchise knocks the ball out of the park. The Star Wars series did come out roughly around the same time and its tenure is very high. So sit tight and we’ll see how it hold up to my kids.

A few years ago, we were invited to the 30th anniversary party of Pac-Man in Los Angeles and we were completely thrilled to attend. There they unveiled the trailer for the upcoming television show that Namco and Avi Arad’s production company were working on. Much to my surprise it was a children’s Pac-Man series to air on the Disney XD channel sometime in the distant future. I distinctly remember talking to Mr. Arad about having my children watch the show and how that could be cool or not.

Now, we zip to the present day, two years later. On June 15th, 2013 and Disney XD finally started airing the series on Saturday mornings. We as a family, we all sat down to watch the show and next thing I know my kids are loving the television series. But I must mention that the new universe for this Pac-Man title is completely based on the new ideas generated by the television show, so how does the game tie in?

Like most of the newer Pac-Man titles, it’s a platform game; gone are the days of the two dimensional chomping action. The game hosts a decent variety of gameplay modes. You can turn Pac-Man into a large rolling ball or a rubber ball, each adding a variety of gameplay. On one hand it really makes it difficult to get use to one set of gameplay mechanics, on the other it changes the monotony of the gameplay. It’s sort of a catch twenty two.

The game lacks hand holding at the start. For example, on one of the starting levels you can use your tongue to grapple from one hanging pole to another but I had to die several times in order to discover I could even do that. When I was finally able to do that move, the controls themselves fell apart. There needed to be (at the start) more in game first-timer tutorials since most titles these days have that.

My eight year old son had a lot of trouble maneuvering around through the levels as the level design was just too difficult for kids. They are not forgiving at all, plus the fact you only get three lives. Who still does that in gaming? I know the developers were maybe trying to stay true here but my son got so discouraged he wanted to go back a watch the show instead which says a lot since he’s not usually a quitter when it comes to gaming. However, I found the game wasn’t catering to the skill level of the younger generation. The audience that is going to buy the game are the 6-11 year olds that have seen the television series, not the forty something’s that grew up with Pac-Man and this game is just too hard for them.

The graphics, and sound are pulled directly from the series with some familiar Pac-Man themes mixed in. Nothing ground breaking here, but average none the less. The addition of cut-scenes would have had more involved in the overall new stories of Pac-Man.

Sadly, the game is very repetitive. And I found myself running the end of the levels without needing to kill/chomp most of the mobs just to muscle through them. Going through the chapters the absences of control instructions is a definite negative. The story in the game is near non-existent, they could have easily pulled ideas from the television series a lot more, which they choose not to. I think it would have added to the overall experience.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Pac-Man franchise. I own a lot of 80’s Pac-Man memorabilia. Is he ready to make a comeback? Why not! My hat goes off to Namco and company for trying at least.

Overall, the game at forty dollars is not that bad of a deal, but the title is plagued with poor camera issues, weak storyline, and overly difficult level design for kids. I’m not so sure that Pac-Man needs to make a comeback in this way. At my place, my kids preferred the television show over the game.

Overall: 6.7 / 10
Gameplay: 4.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.8 / 10
Sound: 8.8 / 10


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