Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures

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Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures
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Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures
Action
Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3, Wii-U, Xbox 360
Review based on Xbox 360 version
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Namco Bandai
Release Date: October 29th, 2013
Recently, Namco Bandai has placed their beloved Pac-Man character in a brand new cartoon series for Disney XD. The animated adventures this time around have been rather successful, perhaps thanks to it being largely aimed at kids with Pac-Man in the school residings in the town of Pacopolis. Recently the gaming titans issued a brand new game featuring the ghost chomping icon, which shares its name with the early morning cartoon. Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures basically picks up where the cartoon leaves off, placing you in an adventure to stop Betrayus yet again in an Action Platformer that spans Pac’s home town, a volcano, and the Netherworld. But does this interactive adaptation lead to an enjoyable experience, or is it just a cheap cash grab?

There isn’t much more to talk about as far as the story goes. You play as Pac-Man on a journey to help retrieve a device for Pac-C, which falls into the hands of Betrayus. You fight and chomp your way through stage after stage of ghosts just to reach him and put a stop to his shenanigans. You stay in touch with Pac-C most of the time, and your ghostly friends work in the background to try to help you, only playing a major role in the story when you’re trapped in the volcano, and one uses the device you recently found to freeze parts of the lava for you to get across. Other then that, you also have to save your friends, and other residents of Pacopolis from hordes of ghosts that trap them in a bubble of slime.

The voice acting finds the cast of the animated series reprising their roles, which is both a good and bad thing. The actors for pretty much every other character fit well, though Pac-Man himself has more of an energetic Naruto quality (in fact I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the same person) that not only doesn’t fit him, but at times gets really obnoxious. There are some cut-scenes that hit quite often, and usually there’s a little restraint in the voice to it the tone. Most of the time, however, Pac himself is almost always overly enthusiastic, and the game relies way too much on it for some bridging scenes like using the pipes in Pacopolis to go from one platform to another with Pac-Man shouting like he’d never rode in one before. This wouldn’t be bad if it were maybe one scene like this per stage in town, but you’re there twice in the game, and you can be forced to use these tubes more than once.

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures

There’s six worlds, though only three main landscapes, one altered by using Pac-C’s device to freeze over the volcano world. It’s a bit disheartening, but at least all the worlds look visually appealing and have enough to make each world a different experience. Pacopolis is always a lot of fun and rather simple the first time around, though when you go back in world six it’s darker and relies more on fans to propel the balloon powered Pac-Man towards the goal. The volcano stages aren’t bad, and the same for the more oppressive Netherworld, though when they freeze over, the ice definitely slows you down.

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures does handle well, though the camera can lead to some deceivingly difficult jumps that really shouldn’t be. The basic commands are jumping and chomping, but you do have to use various different power-ups to make it through later stages. Some of them are fun, such as the fire power-up that hurts fireballs at your opponents, the ice power-up that freezes enemies and lets you chomp them, and then the chameleon power-up that literally turns you into a chameleon and able to eat ghosts as if flies with your long tongue, as well as swing from pole to pole.

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures

The most annoying, however, is the balloon power-up, filling Pac-Man with air. You have to move over large gaps by releasing the air, though many gaps require the timing to be just right, which can be absolutely tedious if no fans are around to aid your journey, though even then it can be rough, especially when the camera won’t shift so you can see the distance. This is also a problem when just jumping onto ledges sometimes thanks to a rather faint shadow, so when you’re high up as a balloon, it also is rough to estimate if you’re above something to land on or not.

The biggest gripe some players will have is the final boss battle with Betrayus. Each world has it’s own end boss to tackle. Some are pretty easy, though others can be absolutely infuriating, usually during the volcano stages. There is a mid-world boss in the Netherworld that serves up ghost food to Pac-Man, forcing you to chomp it all while atop a grill that constantly flares up in line with little time to react. Defeating this guy is more luck based than skill, especially when the more you eat the more sluggish you get. And then there’s the end game boss, Betrayus, who takes less than thirty seconds to defeat. I timed my first victory at twenty-eight seconds, and my second at twenty-two. You jump atop a pole, he shoots, the bullet ricochets and hits him. Repeat two more times. It’s a joke and pretty much a slap in the face to the gamer given how Pac-Man acts bored with the confrontation at the start, and Betrayus just up and leaves with the typical sub-grade super villain threat of returning.

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures

But, visiting the school is always rewarding, helping you collect extra pellets and lives. There’s also some mini arcade games in the school you can play, but you need to unlock by earning fruits, and can only play them if you build up tokens. These are all variations on early Namco titles as well, and range between incredibly addicting to extremely frustrating, each having four levels before completing them. It’s best to leave them until you finish the game, but you can visit the school after every stage and help rack up more tokens. You can also replay each stage for a bonus token, a task necessary to earn all achievements/trophies as well.

There also is some multiplayer action in this title, but it’s up to four players local co-op only. It’s an interesting take on the traditional Pac-Man series. You play as one of the four ghosts, and run around the maze in search of Pac-Man, and have to put a stop to him. You can play this by yourself if you want, as you can set up A.I. opponents. But, while ingenious, it gets pretty old, and makes you just want to play the arcade games in the school instead.

For a casual player, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is a light hearted experience you’ll go through once and call it a day, though maybe returning for the four additional arcade games. If you want a little more, there’s some arcade games to play, a local only multiplayer that is a bit boring, and the option to replay each stage to earn more than just what you get from one playthrough, which includes your achievements or trophies. There’s a decent amount of things to do, but not enough to really keep you coming back. Had the multiplayer been on-line as well, or just included additional games, it would have a lasting appeal for adult and child gamers alike. With a voice cast that varies between suiting and irritating, solid controls, and relatively short levels and worlds, this budget priced title is a fun way to kill some time on the weekend.

Overall Score: 7/10
Physical review copy of this title provided by Namco Bandai.