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X3F hands-on: Pac-Man Championship Edition

If we told you that Pac-Man Championship Edition is the most significant thing to happen to Pac-Man in years, you'd probably call us crazy. Well, call us crazy, because Pac-Man CE rocks. Quite simply, Pac-Man CE has made Pac-Man relevant again. Yeah, maybe it's not the huge announcement we were all hoping for, but once you put some time into it, you'll find out that Pac-Man Championship Edition has some legs.

Pac-Man CE is more than ordinary Pac-Man with a new coat of pixels. More accurately, as Joystiq puts it, Pac-Man CE is "a true sequel to the original Pac-Man released 26 years ago." Yeah, Ms. Pac-Man was a sequel of sorts, but Pac-Man CE is more than just new mazes and a bow. Sure, at its core the game is still about munching pellets and alternately evading and chasing ghosts, but Pac-Man CE manages to modernize the gameplay in a completely new way. Of course, the new-and-improved visuals and audio don't hurt either (we really dig the re-invented background music)..

What Pac-Man CE essentially does is transform the original formula into an extended survival mode. No longer do you have individual mazes that you must clear of pellets in order to move on the next maze. Instead, the game starts with a only handful of pellets on screen. Eat all the dots on either the left or right side of the screen and a piece of fruit appears. Eating the fruit has two effects. First, it generates more dots on the opposite side of the screen. Second, eating fruit actually changes the maze layout on the opposite side of the screen. Essentially, the game becomes a cycle: eat pellets, eat power pellets, eat ghosts, eat fruit, create new patterns and more pellets, repeat. The game imperceptibly grows faster as you progress, too. It is this unending, ever changing aspect of Pac-Man CE that makes it addictive as hell. If you can imagine Pac-Man crossed with the frantic, psychedelic survival of Geometry Wars, you're on the right track.

Pac-Man CE expands on the new maze-changing dynamic with several different modes of play. Every mode is accompanied by a clock. You must outlast the clock in order to officially "complete" each mode. A graph of your score is presented at the end of each round, whether you outlast the clock or run out of lives before time runs out. The graph displays how many points you earned from eating pellets, fruit, or ghosts, at any given time during the round. It's an interesting feature for the game, and sure to please those looking to top the leaderboards.

As for the modes themselves, each is characterized by a different initial maze layout. One mode starts players on a small, cramped maze that expands as fruit is consumed. Another mode cranks the speed up to 11 and sets players on a more linear course. This mode also cuts the standard 10 minute time limit in half, but trust us, lasting 5 minutes at insanely high speeds is tough. Another of the more interesting modes darkens the entire maze, though the area directly adjacent to the player (and ghosts) is always visible. At the beginning, navigation is easy thanks to the pellets that outline the different pathways. As the pellets are eaten, however, the darkened course becomes much more difficult to navigate, and ghosts are harder to avoid as you run into walls that you can't see until the last moment.

All in all, Pac-Man Championship Edition is very entertaining, surprisingly so in fact. And this is coming from someone who is admittedly not a Pac-Man fan. Namco Bandai has taken an arcade game designed to suck away your hard-earned quarters and transformed it into a genuine console title with hours of appeal. The desire to beat the clock and best your high score will undoubtedly have players hearkening back to their first 500,000 points in Geometry Wars or their first perfect run in Guitar Hero II. Granted, it's still Pac-Man and that's not for everyone, and the fact that this is the third rendition of the title to hit Xbox Live Arcade hurts it to a certain extent, but Pac-Man CE is still the most definitive edition of the game in years. Honestly, if it had multiplayer of any kind, it could have been the new Xbox Live Arcade title to beat. At 800 MS Points, we can't recomment Pac-Man CE for everyone, but Pac-Fans and Live Arcade buffs should definitely take notice. It's easily the best version available.

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Reader Comments (Page 1 of 1)


6-06-2007 @ 1:41PM

TxdoHawk said...

Thank you X3F, you summed it up better than I ever could. It's a shame that most people will probably just hop on the LOL PAC MAN WITH NEW GRAPHICS FOR $10 GG M$ bandwagon and never even give the game a chance.


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6-06-2007 @ 1:59PM

Tony said...

It's a really damn good update. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it's fast paced, challenging and fun.

I'm quite happy with it, although I kind of wish there was a discount if you already bought Pac-man.


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6-06-2007 @ 1:59PM

Viridium said...

I'd consider it, if it had multiplayer. I've got enough other single player games taking up my time right now - and more (such as Mass Effect and Bioshock) on the horizon.


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6-06-2007 @ 2:00PM

Blue_Falcon said...

1. I've only played three of the modes, and I already consider it worth the $10. I haven't even tried the other 3 yet.

2. This is the kind of arcade porting I want on the XBLA. Paying $5 for the basic Pac-Man was a joke long before I laid eyes on this (now they could sell it at 100 MSP, and I'd laugh), and this game makes me want more CEs for XBLA games. I would buy them if they make them (I'm hoping Galaga or Dig Dug get it next if they ever consider it)

It's no revolution in gaming, but it's still pretty fun to me. The changes are small, but make a whole lot of difference in what made Pac-Man fun. I guess you could say the Man is Bac in Pac.


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Daniel O'Brien5

6-06-2007 @ 2:00PM

Daniel O'Brien said...

They've *revolutionised* Pac-Man!! :O


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6-06-2007 @ 2:07PM

eLiNeS said...

It's funny, you keep calling them pellets but there is a competition for all you Europeans out there that I found last night (I sent you a newz tip on it X3F) that you only have to answer the question "What is Pac-Man famous for munching?" and pellets is not one of the chooses it gives. Anyway, here is the link for the competition:

This competition is open to European residents only.


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6-06-2007 @ 2:18PM

blk_ballard said...

This game is unbelieviably fun. I wish every retro game did something like this. Oh, and as for the price point, it is well worth it. It is a trip to play in the dark!


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6-06-2007 @ 2:20PM

Toph said...

Yeah..I's fun. Dammit.


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6-06-2007 @ 2:31PM

Wizardly said...

Awesome. Though I'm still pissed about no Carcassonne this week. I will have to give this a shot when I have calmed down.


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6-06-2007 @ 6:27PM

Shaggy240 said...

#10 dont be a spammer


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6-07-2007 @ 1:54AM

Peter said...

I bought it this morning and I already unlocked every achievement. I couldn't put it down. Great job.


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6-07-2007 @ 8:39AM

Modeps said...

I tried it out last night and was hooked. Pac-man really feels like a new game and its a lot of fun. I only have a few more achievements to get though, wasn't that hard to score 400k :(


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Richard Mitchell13

6-07-2007 @ 4:49PM

Richard Mitchell said...


Spammer be zapped!


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