Lime’s mini Review: Pac-Man Championship Edition (XBLA)

This is just a mini-review because, well, I’m on vacation! Now I can actually spend my free time thinking about more lofty things besides games and other frivolities.

Nonetheless, my verdict on the new Xbox Live Arcade game Pac-Man CE, is in: get it. As a 30-something you’d think this was mere gin-induced nostalgia speaking, but you couldn’t be more wrong. I’ve downloaded and never played again the Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man demos from XBLA–they’re old school, there’s nothing new there, and I’ve simply moved on. Gears of War calls, Geometry Wars, anything but Pac-Man for me.

Although MS released this on Wed, 6 Jun 07, with semi-serious hoopla, it skipped just under the radar, well, because it’s Pac-Man. Pac-Man CE was created by the original Pac-Man’s creator, and you’d think there could be nothing new that would make you a “Pac-Man” fan. Well, there is.

Pac-Man CE is a competition game–it has multiple modes, including two Challenge Modes and two Extra Modes, which turn the original game’s concept on its head. Time limits are set, 10 minutes and 5 minutes respectively, and the player must survive the entire time without depleting all his or her lives on order to “win.” The map, in psychedelic HD and shimmering neon colors, now is widescreen, and there’s a East and West quadrant to the maze. The pellets no longer cover the entire map, but as you finish the dots in one section of the maze, new pellets appear in another section of the maze. Finishing off one section of the maze also sometimes results in an entire redesign of the other half of the maze–you’re always on edge preparing for how the maze may change. Add to this the slow start speed of the ghosts, which increases gradually to a near-blinding pace, this is a fast-paced, completely re-envisioned game. And, most importantly–unlike the original Pac-Man, which shows every wrinkle of its 26 years of age–Pac-Man CE is really fun.

The alternate modes introduce yet more interesting twists–one of the modes cloaks all but the pellets in shadow, revealing the outlines of the maze only in your close proximity. You have then to rely on your memory or the pellets to find your way. Another mode begins with the ghosts already traveling at breakneck speed–it’s a maze with some long runways and requiring quick turns (in which your Pac-Man emits visible “sparks” (tying in to one of the XBLA Achievements, incidentally!).

At 800 MS Points, it’s approximately $10. That’s a little steep–but for such a (surprisingly) good game, it’s acceptable. Hopefully the success of Xbox Live will allow MS to ramp back the price tables overall, given economies of scale. Hopefully. We’ll see. Except for my slight reservation about the price, this is a fantastic XBLA game, utterly out of the blue.

Lime’s mini-Review rating: 8 out of 10

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Filed under Gaming, Reviews, Xbox 360

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