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Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures

Score: 70%
ESRB: Everyone 10+
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Games America, Inc.
Developer: BANDAI NAMCO Games America, Inc.
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1 - 4 (Local Only)
Genre: Action/ Platformer (3D)

Graphics & Sound:

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is an innocuous but unremarkable family-friendly platformer. It's a very inconsistent game, alternating from horrid level design and frustrating quirks to genuinely enjoyable platforming challenges. This new title isn't a full-priced release, but even at the price it's at now, it's a bit too much. It would have benefited far more from being a downloadable title. As it stands, it's worth a rental at the very best.

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures retains the look of the new television show; it's colorful and full of personality, though much of the charm is extinguished by the voice acting. If you've seen these kinds of 3D animation, you'll have a good idea of what to expect from this game. Environments are almost painfully standard of the genre. Ice? Fire? Slime? Urban? Check, check, check, check. Luckily, the enemy types vary things up a bit. Ghost types are color-coded, which is a telegraphing tool; you'll know exactly the kinds of attacks that each ghost will pull off. Pac-Man assumes a number of different forms over the course of his adventure, and many of them are adorable. Perhaps my biggest complaint about the visuals is that there's too much empty space.

The first thing you'll hear in Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is the classic Atari music that signals the beginning of each game of Pac-Man...then it jumps immediately into a guitar/synthesizer soundtrack that is as bland as anything I've ever heard. Certain sound effects are held over from the early days of video gaming; each time Pac-Man chomps, there's an audible "awokk!" Every time a ghost gets scared, that classic sound starts up, only to be punctuated each time a scared ghost is eaten. Voice acting is very Saturday morning, but it's really annoying. Pac-Man sounds like Naruto, and his bumbling ghost buddies sound like wimps. Maybe it's a generational thing, but I didn't really care for it.


Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is based on the new animated series of the same name, and it includes several of the characters that you may or may not have come to love. Pac-Man is a high school student, and the ghosts that were once known as his bitter adversaries are now his best buddies. The story revolves around the series' main antagonist Betrayus and his quest for world domination. As Pac-Man, your job is to stop him.

The game is a 3D platformer along the same lines of the Pac-Man World series; there are a handful of worlds to conquer, each of which contains a handful of levels. The objective is always simply to get to the end, where a tasty piece of fruit is always waiting for you. In between, you'll fun, jump, chomp, and make use of a series of special abilities to progress.

Maze High acts as a central hub where you can walk around, talk to individuals, play one of a few special arcade games, and take on new missions. You won't want to spend much time in the school, there's way too much empty space for you to get invested, and the arcade games are little more than throwaway distractions.

Local multiplayer hearkens back to the Gamecube's Pac-Man vs., though it isn't nearly as clever or innovative. You and up to three friends select a ghost and get to hunting Pac-Man down as he chomps his way through a classic Pac-Man maze. Mario Kart-style powerups allow ghosts to attack not only Pac-Man, but each other. The ghost who manages to strike Pac-Man first wins the round. It'd be nice to have an online option, but frankly, I'm not sure how long it would have lasted anyway.


There's comfort in revisiting such well-tread ground, but there's a price: the game doesn't really find its stride until a few hours in. Level design is initially abysmal and simple to the point of not being fun. The puzzles literally solve themselves, ghosts just line up to be eaten, and the platforming is completely challenge free.

Later on, the game changes things up and gets much more interesting. New ghost types are introduced, which force you to rethink your strategy. The level design quietly redeems itself, delivering a series of much more satisfying platforming challenges. It's never consistent, though; Granite Pac doesn't control nearly well enough to navigate a labyrinth-like challenge area.

Game Mechanics:

From the get-go, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is a bog standard platformer with absolutely no surprises whatsoever. There's always one way forward, and the tools you have to make it to the end are minimal. But eventually, you start finding special pellets that transform Pac-Man. This provides a very welcome change to the gameplay that affects not just platforming, but combat. For example, a ghost that has completely iced over will harm Pac on contact, but becoming Fire Pac allows him to melt the ghost into an edible state. Vice Versa for fire ghosts. Chameleon Pac's tongue can be used as a grappling hook, and his ability to become invisible can give you the edge in combat. The game smartly introduces these game-changers throughout the entire advenure.

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures may be positioning itself to be the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3's preemptive answer to Super Mario 3D World, but the only thing it's really got going for it is its reduced price point. The game is entertaining while it lasts, but it's too inconsistent a package to be worth more than a rental period.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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