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PAC-MAN Championship Edition 2

Score: 90%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Games America, Inc.
Developer: BANDAI NAMCO Games America, Inc.
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Arcade

Graphics & Sound:

PAC-MAN Championship Edition 2 is, as you can guess by the "2", a sequel to the first Championship Edition game. That game was a 2007 revival of the 1980ís arcade classic game. This game continues in the challenging path forged by the original PAC-MAN Championship Edition

The first similarity with its predecessor is in graphics. PAC-MAN Championship Edition 2 is colorful, with a variety of twisting, pulsating backgrounds. There are tons of gradients and rainbows to be found in the color scheme of the game. None of it is distracting, however, from the main focus of the game: Pac-Man and the infamous ghosts.

There are some 3D elements to the game, but only when you trigger an event such as eating a ghost. You'll pop out of the screen in giant, pixelated style, and you'll satisfyingly chomp your way through the ghost. Other times, you'll pop out of the screen and hop through space to a new level. And the 3D effect is used to a great dramatic effect when you face off against giant, screen-filling bosses.

Other than those few strategically-placed elements, the game keeps the graphics simple and focuses on the gameplay. The sound is also pretty simple. Of course, there are the classic chomping, ghost floating, and Pac-Man melting sounds that almost anyone in the world can recognize as Pac-Man. But thereís also a pretty decent techno-sounding soundtrack. None of this is intrusive on your gameplay experience, but some of the tracks can be at least a little catchy.


Gameplay:

PAC-MAN Championship Edition 2 is a pure Pac-Man experience, but with some nice twists to keep things interesting. The point of the game is still (as it was in the 80's) to eat dots, eat fruits and keys, eat power pellets, and then ultimately, to eat ghosts. Move and eat: some simple life goals you can learn from Pac-Man. However, as anyone who's played the game can attest, Pac-Man can get pretty intense when all the ghosts are on the screen, everything's moving fast, and you're planning your next moves while trying to predict the ghosts as well. PAC-MAN Championship Edition 2 takes that experience and amps it up even higher, creating an eyeball-fatiguing (but in a good way), reflex-challenging experience.

What PAC-MAN Championship Edition 2 does is add some different styles of levels and a few other complexities to the ghosts. In some levels, for example, youíll hit teleporting tiles that will teleport you to other areas of the maze. Youíll have to think ahead and really plan your route on the harder versions of these levels. There are also spiral levels, which are aptly named, as they send you in a neat, circular path (if you can manage to flawlessly evade the ghosts). And there are also Adventure levels that culminate in boss battles against giant ghosts.

The ghosts have gotten some new features as well. On most levels, you can bump a ghost 3 times, instead of the traditional insta-death you get in previous Pac-Man games. That kind of game mechanic change allows you to take some new risks and think about the game in a new way. However, on the third bump, the ghosts will become angry and will chase after you. Thatís when they become deadly. The ghosts also get help from new "minion" ghosts. These little ghosts will wake up and join the large ghosts, forming long trains of ghosts. These long trains become harder to evade, but there can be some slight advantage to following a ghost train (at least the main ghost is a little further away if you happen to bump into the back of the train and make it angry).

A minor drawback to all of this is that even though there are a variety of gameplay modes, you are still essentially playing the same game over and over. Itís like a collection of card games. You might have to think differently in solitaire versus poker, but the next game will not be a flight simulator or an RPG game or something wildly different, it will still be a card game.

What might be considered annoying as well is the unlock system. You canít just jump into Championship Mode, one of the game's hardest modes, and just start unlocking all the levels in that mode. You have to start from the beginning and work your way through. It's sort of like an extended Tutorial Mode for players who really want to get to the tough stuff. Again, this is only a maybe. I was perfectly fine unlocking my way through and exploring the game at a sort of "slower" pace.

It should definitely be mentioned that there is still no multiplayer in this game. True, thereís enough chaos on the screen, and this is a game built on the single-player experience of figuring out how to beat the map on your own. But a small, side game where you could bring in your couch co-op friends would have been nice.

This is the "2" in the Championship Edition games, so something needs to be said about how it compares to the original. I canít say this is a wildly different game, but there are some slight differences. The ghost bumping is new, as well as the level progression. In the first game, you'd eat fruit and the other half of the map would refresh. In this game, you just get transported to an entirely new level when you eat those special items. There's also a jump option (limited to a few uses unless you earn more) that allows you to teleport yourself out of danger. And giant boss ghosts are also new, adding a new fun element to the game.


Difficulty:

PAC-MAN Championship Edition 2 is not a Pac-Man for the faint of heart. While most starting levels are completely accessible to all skill levels, what youíre really aiming for in this game is high scores. Youíre scored into A, B, C, and D ranks according to your score. It's pretty darn tough to get an A score in even the starter levels. Getting higher scores will unlock levels in the level map, and may also unlock new level types, allowing you to challenge yourself yet again in new levels.

The harder levels, if you need a real challenge, will do things like only give you one bump before the ghosts become angry. Add that to a faster pace, and you can get all the challenge you need.


Game Mechanics:

As you might expect with "Championship" in the title, PAC-MAN Championship Edition 2 has a pretty good handle in the controls department. The game is simple in controls, like its arcade ancestor, allowing the complexity and strategy to live in the planning of escape and attack routes. Pac-Man stops on a dime (well that's new if you haven't played the game in about 30 years), and turns precisely down mazes of corridors.

Pac-Man is a near universally known mascot and gaming icon with many spin-off games to its name. It may seem like oversaturation to have yet another version of Pac-Man today, but this is a really good Pac-Man game that goes back to the core mechanics that made the original so good. It's a balance of strategy and reflexes. It's a challenge that keeps you coming back to beat your records. It's one of those games that has you blinking your eyes afterwards because they were glued to the screen in concentration. It's just good, classic Pac-Man.


-Fights with Fire, GameVortex Communications
AKA Christin Deville

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