I'm not here to tell you that this may be the best version of Pac-man ever released or that this is one of the best games available on XBLA and PSN.
This is not a review, this is an account.
I'm here to tell you how Pac-man is all consuming, how it sucks you in and never let's go. This is a game that dares you to stop playing, a game that constantly reminds you that YOU ARE NOT GOOD ENOUGH.
You turn the game on, and already you are drawn in. You are hit with a blast of neon radiance and the deafening hymns of electronic cherubs spills into your ears. It is inviting, intoxicating. You open up the first map and are asked to play. You oblige. You start to move through the maze, gathering pellets, ghosts swarming behind. Then, less than half a minute in, it appears.
The Power Pellet.
You bite down hard on the yellow sphere, and it is in that instant that your entire perception of life, the world, and the universe changes forever. A dark crimson sweeps over the maze and you turn around to find that your reality has been shaken to its very core.
You turn around eat those ghosts.
All of them.
Your heart swells with a feeling you have been denied by a cold, cynical world for so long. Nostalgia? Cognition? No. It is joy. Pure ectasy, uniformed blue, filing into your gaping maw like Lemmings on acid. Your vision begins to blur with a flurry of increasingly ridiculous numbers and you are overtaken.
You continue to play, you continue to fill up your emotions past the breaking point. It keeps getting faster, stronger. The lights, the sounds. The ghosts. You are nearly blinded by the pure brilliance of it all, but you continue to play. As time quickly begins to dwindle you look back on your past self. To think that just a little under five minutes prior you were so naive. To think that you once believed that there was no more happiness to be had in the world, that you believed all sentiment to be dead. The clock winds down to zero and you drop the controller. You are overcome with an overwhelming feeling of peace. The game has ended, but its effects are permanent. You come down from your high and into a new plane of existence. An exsistence where there is no pain, there is no fear. There is only Pac.
Then it happens.
You crave more, so you back out to the mode selection.
And you see it.
You see your ranking, and you are defeated.
Once again you are consumed by all those feelings of a cold aggression surrounding you. You are being judged, your worth put on trial, and you are not good enough. You are not worthy of the Pac, you don't deserve the Pac. You never did. You look down, your head hanging in complete and utter shame. You are now a broken man, a man whose hopes and dreams were meticulously built up only to be shattered for the amusement of the elite.
It is in this moment, in this moment of complete and total defeat at the hands of the world itself, that you reemerge. You are born again as a beast wholly devoted to the Pac. You pick your controller up and begin again. This time you are driven not by joy, but by determination. You gather a trail of ghosts with a robotic efficiency, a torrent of pellets fall in your wake.
You are no longer just consumed by the Pac, but you are the Pac. Pac is no longer just a game, an experience. No, it is a way of life. You obey it, abide by its orders. You are no longer a man, but something better. Something more.
You are a Pac-man.