For more than 30 years, Pac-Man has delighted gamers all across the world, and he’s still popular after all this time. In fact, Pac-Man has a brand new cartoon airing on Disney XD right now called Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures. I wrote an article about it a couple of months ago, you can check it out here (and while you’re at it, you can read about the iPad game that goes along with it). Now there is a home console video game based on Pac-Man’s new cartoon adventures. It’s available for most of the current consoles, but reviewed on Wii U here. I’ll be reviewing the 3DS version separately, as it’s a different kind of game. In the Wii U title, the leader of the ghosts Betrayus has stolen a giant freeze ray, and now Pac-Man and friends must stop him from using it to turn everyone into Pac-sicles. Help Pac-Man chomp ghosts and overcome obstacles in this 3-D platform jumping adventure.
As a 3-D platforming hero, Pac-Man can run, hop, and double jump. There is also a button just for chomping. Press it near a ghost and Pac will home in and chomp it! Just like in the cartoon, Pac-Man can eat Power Berries that give him new powers that help him defeat enemies and overcome obstacles (similar to another round hungry video game hero, Kirby). Fire Pac-Man can toss fireballs to toast the ghosts, while Ice Pac-Man can shoot out a freeze ray to ice ghosts and freeze water and lava. Other berries turn Pac-Man into a chameleon, who can slurp up ghosts and swing from objects with his long tongue. Or he can turn into a giant stone ball and roll around the levels. Metal Pac-Man can stick to magnetic surfaces, making for some creative platforming situations. There are more powers to discover, too. Some of the Power Berries aren’t quite as useful, but at least they give you an extra hit if you bump into an enemy.
Pac-Man will travel around various locations from the cartoon show, including the futuristic Pacopolis, the Slime Temple, and even the ghost netherworld. Aside from Power Berries, Pac will pick up other items that will help him along the way. Only problem with that is there are no instructions packed with the game, and the in-game manual on the Wii U home menu barely even covers the controls. So I had to figure out on my own what each of the items do. Collect dots (I think the game calls them energy spheres) to unlock new levels. Pies give you extra lives, but other food items like hamburgers replenish a bit of your health. At the end of every level is a bonus fruit item. Collect enough of those to unlock 2-D arcade style mini-games and find coins to play them (they cost money just like arcade machines).
Speaking of those 2-D arcade style mini-games, in the cartoon Pac-Man and friends sometimes pilot vehicles based on the bonus fruit Pac-Man eats. So there’s a cherry copter, pineapple tank, lemon rocket, and more. When you collect enough bonus fruit found at the end of every level, you can unlock a 2-D arcade mini-game based on one of those vehicles. Between levels you can visit Maze High School from the cartoon, and that’s where the arcade games are. Each one mimics a classic arcade game. The cherry copter game plays like Defender, and the lemon rocket game is a horizontally scrolling shooter like Gradius. Unfortunately, the arcade games aren’t very good. Although the zucchini mini-game that plays like S.T.U.N. Runner is at least halfway decent. Also, separate from the main game is a multiplayer mode for up to four players. Each one controls one of the ghosts: Blinky, Pinky, Inky, or Clyde, as they tromp around a 3-D maze. Whoever can catch Pac-Man first before he eats all the dots in the maze wins. Unfortunately, it’s not near as good as Pac-Man Vs.
The graphics are very bright, sharp, and colorful. I’d almost say the game looks even better than the cartoon. I have to release my inner classic Namco fan out for a bit to talk about the music. Most of it is lifted straight from the cartoon, but I noticed a tune in one of the ice levels that’s a remix of the Dig Dug song. And in another ice stage, they just play the same main theme from Pac-Man: Championship Edition. Kind of cool, but also a little lazy.
Aside from the lack of clear, in-game instructions and some less than useful power-ups, the only other problems I had with the game is that sometimes the goals and objectives in levels aren’t quite as clear as I would’ve liked for them to be. And as with other 3-D platformers, sometimes the camera angles are a bit problematic. Other than that, even though this game is based on a rather lackluster cartoon license, it really isn’t that bad. You don’t see as many cute and colorful 3-D platformers anymore, so it brought back fun memories of playing past Pac-games such as Pac-Man World. I’d even go so far to say that Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is a better game than say, Pac-Man World 3. Maybe even better than Pac-Man World 2!
Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is rated E-10 with ESRB descriptors of Cartoon Violence and Comic Mischief. Pac-Man chomps ghosts and burps out their eyeballs, but that’s about as violent as it gets. If you’re OK with your kids watching the cartoon, they’ll be OK with the game, too. Reading skill is helpful for the text, and younger players may get frustrated at some of the more challenging obstacles. It does get pretty hard in some places.
Pac it Up!
Just wanted to share a few miscellaneous tidbits about the game before closing. First of all, if you preordered the game at Target stores, you could get this neat little Pac-Man action figure. So here’s a picture of that:
Also, the game comes with a glow in the dark poster. While Kid Cary would think that was ‘totally rad,’ I have to say that it doesn’t glow in the dark very well.
And that’s all for now! I’ll have the review of the 3DS version up soon, so keep your eyes out for that! –Cary