Pac-Man Championship Edition DX

Being a small yellow circle might seem like a disadvantage, but when you're Pac-Man, with a mouth that's almost as big as his entire body and access to power-ups that send your enemies scuttling, life's a breeze. You get to spend your days munching away at pac-dots, chewing through fruit and other bonus items and generally acting in a care-free manner. In the classic Pac-Man universe, the only threat to Pac-Man's blissful existence are four enemies, Blinky, Pinky, Inky and, erm, Clyde, which doesn't seem so bad. Thirty years since the original release, Pac-Man has munched his way to the PSN, in Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, equipped with new levels, new challenges, a whole host of time trials, sharp new HD looks and a new, magic ingredient: addictive combo creation.

Pacman

The key gameplay element that makes this iteration of Pac-Man so thoroughly entertaining is the combo mechanism. Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde now have a whole lot of friends, each asleep in the level, only to be awoken as Pac-Man zips past. By carefully navigating the level, players can cause a trail of enemies to grow rapidly, in numbers easily reaching 50 or more. The aim is to build the trail, grab a power-up and then turn back on your pursuers and munch through an enormous chain of enemies, watching your score spiral upwards. Confident players will build a number of huge chains at regular intervals in a game, and then claim huge rewards for the best scores. Aside from the combo creation, the remainder of the gameplay is largely unchanged from the classic formula, with Pac-Man pursuing pac-dots to unlock new stages and bonus items. As you progress, the game speed increases repeatedly, until your tiny yellow friend is nipping across the screen encountering enemies and obstacles faster than you can manage to react. Reaching top speed and still managing to build massive combos is a gameplay moment that sets the title apart from the competition.

Pacman

The main modes, score attack, time trial and ghost combo, are all entertaining, and sufficiently different to merit their existence. For example, in score attack, you might take a slightly inefficient route to ensure the maximum number of enemies join your trail, while in time trial mode, you'll want to make a more direct route through the pac-dots, not particularly caring how big the chain behind you becomes. Meanwhile, in ghost combo, you can throw caution to the wind, building the largest chain possible for one single moment of combo glory. Thanks to decent variety in the level design (and the ability to play the levels in the dark!) the gameplay is kept quite fresh between levels, despite the large number of time trials for each. The only downside is that it's not particularly difficult to "complete" things, in the traditional sense of clearing the various modes and unlocking trophies. Many will complete the game's objectives reasonably quickly, leaving only score attacks to drive players forwards. With online rankings, there's decent motivation to try and get a score that can be recognized, but many will be content to stop with the main objectives complete. As a result, it's a shame there aren't more modes or, even better, a multiplayer mode allowing two or more to take on the various modes. The multiplayer option wouldn't tax PS3 in the slightest, and is sorely missed in a game that could so easily benefit from it, even if Pinky, Blinky, Inky and Clyde need some more friends - perhaps Stinky, leaving a trail, Twinky, a fat one, Kinky, the one with the whip, and Mo, because every team needs a Mo.

Pacman

That magic combo ingredient isn't so special just because of the numbers and gameplay progression associated with it. The moments of combo greatness would be nothing without the associated audio and visual effects. The whole level begins to shimmer, the combo begins slowly, but then explodes into a rapid assault accompanied by increasingly enthusiastic effects marking the end of each enemy. The score numbers pop up on screen so rapidly that they all blend into one, and Pac-Man emerges from the chaos, unscathed and, amazingly, no fatter than before. The greatest mystery is, perhaps, the little munchkin's ability to never gain weight. He must have a very high metabolism. He's also got a cool smile in his new HD interpretation and, in fact, all the expressions of the characters are quite entertaining. The levels themselves are colourful, sharp and varied, with eight different level stylings to choose from, as well as multiple colour variants for each. In amongst those choices are some of the classic 1980s visuals that retro fans will undoubtedly enjoy.

As updates of classics go, Pac-Man is easily one of the best, and ranks highly amongst all the games on the Playstation Store. The feeling of satisfaction in combo creation is thanks to gaming genius from Namco, and there will be many gamers who never grow tired of the formula. It will be interesting to see if there are reasonably-priced bonus levels or modes (ideally a multiplayer one) in the future, which would take the game to an even higher level. For retro addicts, this is unmissable, for everyone else, this is still one of the best store titles available.

Game details

Game logo

Publisher:

Namco Bandai

Developer:

Namco Bandai

Players:

1

Online:

Rankings

Release:

2010-12-01

Trophies:

15

Review summary

Gameplay:

Some of the most addictive gameplay around

Graphics:

The HD shine put on snazzy 80s colours

Sound:

Basic beeps and whistles, with modern upgrades

Lastability:

An incredible feeling of... just one more go...

8.8

Supernova

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