The haunting in Pac-Land
Opening your eyes, you find yourself in darkness, the only guide to aid you being a line of suspicious round substances. You begin to question the purpose and effect of them, when suddenly you hear cries. through the distorted echoes, you can make out the names of “Blinky”, “Pinky”, “Inky” and inbred ghoul “Clyde”. Suddenly, Blinky appears around the corner, shifty eyes glaring into yours. He looks innocent enough, but if you were to touch him, you know he’d bend you so far backwards you’d practically turn inside out, bursting out your innards and dissipating you into nothingness. So you run. You run, guzzling down the ‘pills’ for sustenance, occasionally chomping on fruit as you go. Every time you try to escape the labyrinth through the seemingly obvious exit, you just get thrown back in the other end. Meet a grisly end, and you’ll simply be revived, ready to be turned out again. It’s not hell, it’s purgatory. Pac-Man has had to go through this for almost 30 years now, and it’s just inhumane. I mean, after all that time, the poor guy needs a bit of variety and Mrs Pac-Man feels utterly helpless to provide it. Luckily, this new blood is injected through Pac-Man Championship Edition.
Championship Edition is a 800 MS Point package that takes the retro classic and mixes it up a little with new rules and new map layouts. As if Pac-Man didn’t have enough problems on his hands with the spirits of the Castle Crashers behind him, he now has to contend with the invisible enemy of time. Each match is timed and once the allotted time limit runs out the game ends. With this added feature, the aspect of survival is replaced by the desperate need to gather as many points as possible and, bizarrely, makes the game a lot more enjoyable with a competitive element added to the mix.
Although Pac-Man Championship Edition doesn’t re-invent the series, it certainly gives it a kick up the rear.
Along with the new time limit comes new gameplay rules. Obsessive hoarding is still the name of the game, but the maze is no longer compressed to compensate for a cramped arcade booth and spreads out over your lovely HD telly and is divided by two connected halves, both start off symmetrical. Both sides fill up with pills, and when one side is cleared, a piece of crystallised fruit appears on the other side. Once collected, the clear side completely restructures itself, filling itself up with pills once again, ready for the process to repeat. This constant evolution and refreshment forces players to keep on their toes and manages to offer new challenges without straying too far away from the original formula that made Pac-Man a classic to begin with.
Despite a strong gameplay mechanic, the addition of 6 ‘different’ modes seems like a desperate attempt to justify the price tag…they don’t. The standard ‘Championship Mode’ gives a 5 minute time limit and that’s adequate enough for gobbling needs. However, even though the additional five modes offer new time limits and a few different map layouts, none really stand out as clear favourites and only really provide good content for gaining achievements.
Although it retains its old 2D look, Pac-Man Championship Edition looks much more polished than its ancestor. Pac-Man appears to have had a shave, ridding himself of a stubbly pixelated mess and coming out of it altogether smoother, and ghosts shine upon the corridors as they approach you. These are hardly ground-breaking effects, but are nice little touches which separate it from the original, and the same soundtrack has been included in the game to keep alight the retro spark.
Although Pac-Man Championship Edition doesn’t re-invent the series, it certainly gives it a kick up the rear. Retaining the simple gameplay formula and adding small amounts of complexity to the mix means that it’s doesn’t stray too far from the original to alienate veterans and is entertaining enough to draw in newcomers. At 800 Microsoft points, some may feel that the game is a bit of a rip-off, seeing as many of the extra modes replicate one another, but the whole game manages to be just as addictive as the original must have been in the 80’s.
The Bad: Not getting a great amount for your money, A lot of the modes feel incredibly similar to each other