STAFF REVIEW of Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 (Xbox 360)

Thursday, December 11, 2014.
by Adam Dileva

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 Box art Sure, Pong and Asteroids may get the nod as the first true video games, but when Pac-Man came about in 1980, that’s really when gaming started to become popular, and since then, Pac-Man has become synonymous with gaming as a whole. Since then Pac-Man has been in numerous games and spinoffs, but has never really captured his fame that he once had when gaming was in its infancy thirty five years ago, save for the exceptional Championship Edition DX that came out a few years ago of course. So does his newest adventure, The Ghostly Adventures 2, bring him back into limelight?

Based on the cartoon TV show with the same name, The Ghostly Adventures 2 is a tie-in to the show, so kids that know about the characters should enjoy themselves seeing familiar faces and locations. If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s your typical spin that has Pac-Man as a young and cool version of his younger self that has to deal with the bad guy every week in some new wacky situation; typical fodder for a young audience cartoon.

What The Ghost Adventures 2 does right is capture the essence of the show, be it with the characters, locations, bright colors, and it also improves on the first game that released just a short year ago. The story follows that of Pac-Man and his friends trying to save PacWorld from a devilish plot by the evil Lord Betrayus. There really isn’t much more to the story, and you’ll easily finish the campaign in a weekend, or even one long sitting, as it only took me about six hours to reach the end credits.

The game is a platformer at its heart and you’ll be leaping from place to place, with different powers, all while chomping ghosts which is what Pac has does best for over thirty years. The game is completely 3D but the camera always has a set and fixed position. It may move and rotate when you reach new places or checkpoints, but you’re never able to freely move the camera to help with making proper jumps. Because of this fixed camera, prepare to lose many lives from missing your jump due to odd angles or simply not knowing where you’re about to land.

Making a return from the previous game, Pac can gain special powers by chomping down on some power berries he’ll find throughout the world. Based on which berry he eats, he’ll gain access to specific powers and also change his look to match said powers. As Fire Pac you’ll be able to throw fireballs at ghosts to stun them, melt ice, glide long distances, and cause hot air balloons to lift. Ice Pac allows you to freeze enemies in place, cause ghosts to turn into ice blocks and land on switches, or even freeze specific enemies to be used as platforms. Metal Pac lets you suck in ghosts, attach yourself to magnetic platforms, and orbit specific attach points to launch yourself in any direction. Chameleon Pac allows you to use his long tongue to eat ghosts and also gives you the ability to latch onto poles to swing elsewhere. Rubber Pac turns himself into a small ball that has the talent of being able to super jump and slide slowly down the sides of walls. Lastly, Pac can also turn into Granite Ball Pac by eating the appropriate power berry and this transforms him into a massive granite ball version of himself that can dash in any direction and also jump onto ghosts for big damage.

While the powers can be fun, and you’re only given the power berries you need to progress in a specific stage, they can be frustrating at the best of times as well. This happens the most with Metal Pac when you’re trying to attach or detach from magnetic surfaces. Keep in mind the camera is always fixed, but when it does shirt or rotate and you’re trying to do something at that moment, you’re almost always sure to die due to the camera not making it easy to orient yourself. The same goes for Granite Ball Pac, as you’ll roll of the edge numerous times because of the controls and camera shifting.

Just like in the show, Pac will get some help from his friends, Spiral and Cylindria, and there will even be a few sections during the campaign where you’ll get to use Spiral’s Cherry Copter and Cylindria’s Hoverboard. These dull stages play as simple on-rail shooters, but make for a slight distraction to the slew of regular stages where Pac is simply jumping around and eating ghosts.

In between levels, Pac is able to visit and explore Pacopolis Park and visit locations that fans of the show will recognize, like Sir C’s Lab, Maze High, and more. Aside from finding some collectable items and talking to a handful of characters, this free roam of sorts really doesn’t add anything to the game unless you want to take part in the unlocked challenges that open up as you progress further in the game. It’s really just an explorable menu system and doesn’t offer much else aside from a slight distraction.

Given that this game’s target audience is the younger crowd that most likely tunes into the show every week, you would assume that since it’s geared towards kids it would be a simplistic game for controls and mechanics, as to not alienate its target audience. When it comes to difficulty though, The Ghostly Adventures 2 is all over the place, as even I was losing multiple lives in certain sections due to mechanics and camera issues. It’s as if when creating the game, they were unsure who to make it for, and as a parent, be prepared to be asked to help if it’s for a younger child. The platforming can be quite difficult and the flawed mechanics can be very tough in specific sections.

That being said, dying isn’t much of a problem, as you amass many lives as you collect pellets and fruit pieces throughout your gameplay and I was never even close to losing all my lives; a much younger person though may not have as much luck. Even in the final stages, the difficulty seemed all over the place, as some sections I breezed through, and other parts I lost a handful of lives.

When you’ve completed the game and the credits have rolled, there’s little to no reason to continue playing other than trying to obtain gold medals in each level and trying to find every collectable. Given the mechanical issues, I don’t see many doing this unless you really are a completionist, enjoy obtaining high scores, or hunt for achievements.

The game can look great at times, as some of the worlds do give the illusion of being vast, but this is where it also runs into other problems. Sometimes there’s so much going on that the game really starts to slow down, almost to the point of slideshow-like frames, to the point where it affects your gameplay. The space levels are notorious for this and at times can be almost unplayable due to the horrendous slowdown.

The older generation of gamers like myself will appreciate the retro sounds and music placed into the game, and if you’ve played the original Pac-Man from over three decades ago, you’ll definitely partake in some flashbacks with the sound effects. All of this being said, The Ghostly Adventures 2 isn’t terrible, it’s just actually decent if you play it a few levels at a time instead of trying to finish it as quickly as possible. Keep in mind though that it’s going to be too difficult for the very young kids and the older ones will most likely rather play something else.

Overall: 5.7 / 10
Gameplay: 5.0 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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