Giant Bomb Review

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Pac-Man Championship Edition DX Review

5
  • XBGS

This is the fastest, loudest, most overwhelming, most viscerally pleasurable Pac-Man experience available on the market today without a prescription.


 The ghosts have numbers, but YOU ARE THE PAC-MAN.
Taking clear inspiration from Geometry Wars pretty much across the board--from the thumping techno and pulsing neon lights to the perpetual sense of escalation and pure speed--2007's Pac-Man Championship Edition made Namco’s old pie-chart feel more vital than it had, arguably in decades. As unlikely as the success of Pac-Man CE was, we're talking straight-up Powerball odds that the follow-up, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, would be able to match it, let alone exceed it. But not only does DX make CE feel like weak tea, it all but makes that game obsolete. This is sensory overload of the highest order, the kind of game that leaves your eyeballs dry, your nerves shot, and every last bit of you wanting more. Pac-Man Fever has been effectively weaponized.
 
As Championship Edition was a modern evolution of the original Pac-Man, DX expands specifically on the work done by CE, creating an experience that’s anchored by a lot of the classic Pac-Man sights and sounds and the fundamental gameplay concepts, but whose resemblance to the old quarter-chomper is rapidly slipping away. Like Pac-Man, you are constantly nagivating a series of mazes, eating up dots and using Power Pellets to turn the tables on the marauding ghosts. Like Pac-Man Championship Edition, the widescreen mazes are split into left and right sides, with different maze patterns appearing on one side as you clear out all of the dots and Power Pellets on the other, giving the whole game a relentless sense of momentum, and putting more of a focus on high scores than simple survival. In addition to loading the game up with a well-considered number of visual styles that recall or reimagine past incarnations of the Pac-Man, as well as a good fistful of new mazes that feature varying balances of straightaways and tight corners, DX introduces three key gameplay concepts, the total sum of which is an experience that feels fresh precisely because it still feels so familiar.
 
 These ghosts are about to get it.
First and foremost are the green, static, "sleeping" ghosts that litter the mazes. Once you pass by these sleeper ghosts, they begin intently chasing you, showing none of the patterned behavior found in the regular ghosts. As you work your way back and forth across the changing maze, you can build up a pretty significant ghost train behind you, regularly numbering in the dozens. Once a rare Power Pellet appears, I have to tell you, the sensation you get when you about-face and just start plowing through these ghosts, with the recognizable arcade sound cue registering faster and higher as your combo points multiply... it’s one of the most purely enjoyable feelings I’ve gotten from a game in a long, long time. Considering how much time I’ve spent being stressed out and terrorized by those awful specters over the years, there’s something downright therapeutic about it. In their original arcade incarnation, the ghosts in Pac-Man were terrifying. The four of them hunted you for sport, with the scattered Power Pellets providing only brief reprieves from their malevolence. Championship Edition definitely strengthened Pac-Man’s position against them, but in DX they’re cheap fodder for the mighty Pac-God.
 
As your score rises, so does the speed of the game, which is where the other two DX additions come into play. While the maze layouts are decidedly circuitous, the dot patterns are laid out into very deliberate paths, and high scores almost always hinge on how closely you can keep to that track. The increased speed, plus the rogue ghosts that still patrol the maze, as well as the increasing danger of running into your own ghost train as it grows longer and longer, all conspire to throw you off. It’s manageable up to a certain point, but the speed eventually just makes it overwhelming. When you’re close to having an unfortunate encounter with a ghost, the game will effectively go into bullet-time and zoom in on your position, giving you time to choose an alternate path, or elect to trigger a bomb, which momentarily bumps all of the active ghosts on the maze back into their central holding pen and lowers the game speed slightly, giving you time and room to breathe.
 
 HNNNG
One of the net effects of the bombs, the slow-down, and the sheer volume of ghosts is that the challenge lies not in survival, but in besting the scores of your friends and climbing your way up the leaderboards. Though it won’t point out when friends beat specific scores, DX is more than happy to let you know where you stand in the global rankings in the maze-specific five- and ten-minute score attack modes, as well as the time trial and ghost combo modes, both of which go and put their own unique spin on the DX gameplay. There's a weird misstep with the leaderboards, in that your own score doesn’t show up integrated into your friends leaderboard. It’s easy enough to flip back and forth between your score and your friends leaderboard and figure out where you fit, but still, a goofy choice.
 
The only thing I really wish Pac-Man Championship Edition DX had was just more. More mazes, more modes, more ways for me to subjugate ghosts and rub my high scores in my friends’ stupid, stupid faces. It’s not that this package feels particularly anemic, it’s just that what’s here is so damn good, I wish it didn’t have to end.
81 Comments
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Posted by ColonelT

Sandwiches!

Posted by GlenTennis

Great

Online
Edited by Grissefar

bet -10,000
bonus × 1.08 
return + 21,600
+11,600
 
Ka-tjing. Thanks for the twitter heads up, Ryan. Even though anybody could see the five stars from miles away. I'll be sure to pick it up next week on PSN.

Posted by countinhallways

Brilliant. Look forward to picking this up.

Edited by RoyCampbell

Whoa awesome. The quicklook and this review makes me want to play Pac-Man.

Edited by AlexW00d

I got excited cos I saw Pacman CE for my phone, but it sucked. May have to purchase this tbh.

Online
Posted by IkariNoTekken
@Grissefar said:
" called it "
Posted by bjorno

Dear Mr. Davis,
 
Please stop using the word  'visceral' to describe everything.
 
your friend,
 
everybody.

Posted by Ryan
@bjorno said:
" Dear Mr. Davis,  Please stop using the word  'visceral' to describe everything.  your friend,  everybody. "
If you promise to stop using the "Dear Blank" construct for offering (entirely valid!) critiques, I think we can find ourselves an accord!
Posted by desku

Deserved score.

Posted by Kumo

HNNNG

Posted by gla55jAw

Maybe I'll get this later.

Posted by Jeust

Looks good, but i can't see myself playing this game more than once or twice.

Online
Posted by Grissefar
@bjorno said:
" Dear Mr. Davis,  Please stop using the word  'visceral' to describe everything.  your friend,  everybody. "
Wow, Ryan responded to you in person. You're pretty lucky.
Posted by JustinSane311

I really enjoyed the first PacMan CE, so it only makes sense to pick this one up too! 

Posted by dragonzord
@bjorno said:
" Dear Mr. Davis,  Please stop using the word  'visceral' to describe everything.  your friend,  everybody. "
What about Dead Space 2? Can he use it then?
Posted by DoctorWelch

WHAT!!! FIVE STARS!!! THATS RIDICULOUS!!! This game definitely deserves at least like...7 out of 5.

Posted by OneKillWonder_

Great review, and I completely agree. I didn't expect to like the game as much I do. It's damn fun and addicting as all hell. The only thing I don't like is how unresponsive the movement can be during the higher speeds. I'm always missing turns because Pac-man won't go in the direction I press.

Posted by fraser

I want to eat it.

Posted by LiquidSwords

This game is beyond fun! But also wish there was more, more, MORE! I got all the achievements without even really trying :P

Posted by DiscoDuck8k

Uuugh, I've held off so far fearing it'll be Geometry Wars-level addiction all over again.
 
You know what, maybe this is a risk worth taking. I'll download it soon.

Posted by RiotBananas
@IkariNoTekken said:
" @Grissefar said:
" called it "
"
Posted by buft

great review, im really enjoying this game and it was a bargain for ten bucks

Posted by MildMolasses
@Jeust said:

"Looks good, but i can't see myself playing this game more than once or twice. "


Me either. The game is great, but none of my friends have it (thus no comparing scores)    and the s-rank was really easy to get, so there really isn't anything me to strive for with it. It's fun as hell, and I'm glad I have it, but I don't see me returning to it very often
Posted by bjorno
@Ryan said:
" @bjorno said:
" Dear Mr. Davis,  Please stop using the word  'visceral' to describe everything.  your friend,  everybody. "
If you promise to stop using the "Dear Blank" construct for offering (entirely valid!) critiques, I think we can find ourselves an accord! "
I am fully satisfied with the terms of our agreement. I shall uphold my end of this bargain.
Posted by Diamond

Game of the game!  But yea it's very good.
 
@bjorno: No, visceral is a good word.

Posted by MagusMaleficus

I love the holy fuck outta this game.

Posted by FritzDude

Holy fuck farts.

Posted by Everyones_A_Critic

SO MANY FUCKING GHOSTS!!!

Posted by Coleslaw893

I can't believe I'm actually excited about a Pac-Man game, this looks like so much fun. Will definitely download soon. (Give me my points Microsoft!)

Posted by SBYM

I WANT THIS GAME!

Posted by jillsandwich

HNGGGG was how I reacted every time i ate the ghost train.

Posted by AwesomeAndy

I watched the Quick Look and was pretty much convinced to get this.

Posted by bybeach

Wierd thinking back on this game, yet this is the same ole pacman I remember. Just done right,...nice.
Posted by CaLe

Currently ranked 54 on the leaderboards! Totally loving the game.

Posted by Vextroid

I really love this game but I hate one thing, and that is your ghost train only holds a max of 30 and any sleeping ghosts that you wake up don't get added to your train and you don't get any points.
Posted by animathias
@bjorno said:
" @Ryan said:
" @bjorno said:
" Dear Mr. Davis,  Please stop using the word  'visceral' to describe everything.  your friend,  everybody. "
If you promise to stop using the "Dear Blank" construct for offering (entirely valid!) critiques, I think we can find ourselves an accord! "
I am fully satisfied with the terms of our agreement. I shall uphold my end of this bargain. "
Sadly, it was signed "Everybody." :( It'll be hard tracking down all those permissions.
Posted by JoelTGM

nice, can't wait for it to come out next week

Posted by TooWalrus

Ha, I'm surprised this game even needed a review, I thought it was universally known that this game is SO FUCKING GOOD!

Posted by RobotHamster

Can't wait to get this, good for pac-man to have this come out.  

Posted by DG991

So are they seriously making this game of the year?

Posted by Sin4profit

i DLed it with my free 800 MS points from last month. Easy achievements, play it in between Hot Pursuit and now AC:brotherhood

Posted by LiquidSwords
@DG991 said:
" So are they seriously making this game of the year? "
Did they say that? Chill pill, take one
Posted by Redbullet685

I bought this today and LOVE IT!

Posted by issun187

Well written review, Ryan! I'm going to pick this little gem up in a few days.

Posted by _Horde

I agree completely. It's almost orgasmic to get a massive ghost chain.
Posted by Diamond
@DG991 said:
" So are they seriously making this game of the year? "
Not only that, but they have declared this the best game ever.  Boy, you don't know what you're missing!
Posted by Mrskidders

Better than Black Ops eh.

Posted by Bunnyman

Fascinating that Pac-Man is still relevant. He is the Moses of video games.

Posted by Marzy

Is this availble on PSN?
 
I really want this now.

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