My Pac-Man World Experience

Pac-Man World: Re-Pac was recently released, and it’s a remake of Pac-Man World, a 3-D platformer originally on the PSOne to celebrate Pac-Man’s 20th anniversary.  Pac-Man World may not be one of my favorite Pac-Man games, but I have a lot of special memories about it that I thought I’d share with you in this blog.  Plus my opinion on the remake, what has changed and stayed the same, etc.  So grab a bowl of Pac-Dots and let’s get chomping!

So as many of you may know, I’m a huge fan of Pac-Man. I’d like to claim that I’m probably the biggest Pac-Man fan in the world.  That may not be true, but I’ll say so anyway.  If you think you’re a bigger Pac-Man fan, please let me know!  I’d love to hear from a fellow Pac-Man freak.  Anyway, I was born in the mid 1970s, so I grew up experiencing the full assault of Pac-Man Fever as a kid.  I ate Pac-Man pasta, slept on Pac-Man bedsheets, and watched the Saturday morning cartoon!  Heck, I even went to Pac-Man Land in Six Flags Over Texas!  Yes that really was a thing!  I was into other toys like Star Wars and Transformers, but while I grew out of those, I NEVER grew out of Pac-Man!

Fast forward to the mid 1990s.  I had just finished my first year of college, and that summer there was an ad in The Dallas Morning News calling for game reviewers.  I tried out and actually made it, and that’s one of my proudest achievements.  I always thought it would be cool to attend video game trade shows like CES and the new-at-the-time E3.  And now that I was a member of the press, I decided I’d try and go to E3 that next year.  Back then, E3 was totally mind blowing, and it was even more amazing for a Pac-Man fan like me because as soon as I got to Namco’s booth, they were showing off a new 3D Pac-Man game called Pac-Man Ghost Zone!  I still have my yellow Ghost Zone squishy ball they were giving out that year!

Unfortunately, Ghost Zone never came out. It’s a shame because I really like that title.  But part of the problem was all the strict rules that Namco Japan had for the US team.  For instance, they said that you couldn’t play as the actual Pac-Man character.  So how did they get around that?  Well the story went that you were a kid who was sucked inside a Pac-Man arcade machine, and you turned into Pac-Man.  So you were not REALLY Pac-Man.  There were other stupid rules they had to follow, that was just an example.  But ultimately, the game just wasn’t ‘gelling’ so it got cancelled.  I hate it that a lot of the members of the Ghost Zone team probably got fired, but I bet that sort of thing happens in the video game industry way more than we realize.

But out of the ashes of Ghost Zone came a new team and a new game.  At the next year’s E3, it was called Pac-Man 3D, but would later change the year later to Pac-Man World.  One of the reasons why Pac-Man World is such a special game to me is that it’s one of the first games I got to follow from start to finish as a game reviewer.  Some of the changes they made between these titles were kind of interesting.  For instance, the boss in the pirate level, a giant ship with a sail with eyes on it, was originally named H.M.S. Hanky.  But they had to change the name because around that time a little TV show came out called South Park, and one of the characters was a talking piece of poo named Mr. Hanky, and the Pac-Man World team didn’t want to be associated with that.  So he got changed to H.M.S. Windbag.  It’s a shame because I like the first name better.  But I can’t blame them for changing it.

Another reason why Pac-Man World is such a special game to me is that I got to meet and know many of the team members who worked on it.  I still talk with some of them to this day!  I always looked forward to seeing them at E3, and whether I was getting my picture taken with Pac-Man or eating yellow Dipper Dots while seeing their progress, talking with the PMW team at E3 was a real treat.  I mostly talked with Brian Leake and Scott Rogers, but other members of the team were great to talk with as well.  And dealing with the PR professionals like Jennifer Fitzsimmons was fantastic, too.  Some people say that shows like E3 are dead, but nothing will replicate getting to meet people in person like that.

Here’s some interesting facts about the PMW team.  Did you know that the game was heavily inspired by Disney?  The PMW team liked to go to Disneyland on their breaks, so many of the worlds in the game are based on their favorite rides.  It’s easy to see how the pirate, space, and spooky levels were based on Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, and The Haunted Mansion!  Another Disney influence was in the cutscenes.  Back then, Pixar had started to make a name for themselves with classics like Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, and Monsters Inc.  Many of these earlier movies had blooper reels in the credits, which is funny since they were animated movies and didn’t need blooper reels.  But you can also unlock a blooper reel in Pac-Man World as well!  I don’t think you can in the remake.  One of the PMW team members, Scott Rogers, actually went on to be a Disney Imagineer for a few years!  But before then he helped make other games like a little one you might’ve heard of called God of War, and one of my favorites, Maximo, a 3D spinoff of the Ghosts N Goblins series.  And now, Scott Rogers makes a lot of board games!

One of the best parts of Pac-Man World was the music, and it was done by Tommy Tallarico.  You might’ve heard of him as he’s done music for a lot of other games as well.  I think he nailed the tunes perfectly in Pac-Man World.  He also was a host on a TV show on G4 (remember that channel?), and he started up a video game orchestra concert tour called Video Games Live.  I think he also helped start up the Intellivison Amico, but ah, we won’t go into that here.  I went to one of the Video Games Live concerts and got to meet him in person.  I told him I really liked the music he did in Pac-Man World, and he said it was really fun playing the title theme with Dweezil Zappa.  Wait…what?  Did that really happen?  Wow!

Anyway, when I wrote my review of Pac-Man World, I was at the top of my game at the newspaper.  My review even got a front page tag line!  Here’s a picture my review.  Sorry I blotted out my face, I don’t want anyone to see what I looked like back then.

Many of the PMW team members went on to help make Ms. Pac-Man: Maze Madness and Pac-Man World 2, and it was fun to follow those games as well.  Pac-Man World 2 was originally going to be a more open world experience, and you would be able to put on roller blades and flippers to get around the world easier.  You could also collect fruit and give it to another Pac person named Smoothie Sue who had a swirl on her head, and she’d mix the fruit into smoothies that would give you power-ups that you can use at any time!  Because of time restraints, these ideas had to be cut, but you can still see Smoothie Sue as the host in the arcade in PMW2!

Years later I got to see Pac-Man World 3 at E3, but it was done by a totally different outside team, and it just wasn’t the same.  They bragged about a new chomping animation, and when that’s the big thing in a game, you know something’s wrong.  I liked that you could play as some of the ghosts, but otherwise, it’s one of the few Pac-Man games I never finished.  Also, if you like the gameplay of the Pac-Man World titles and don’t mind the awful, awful Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures cartoon license, the games based on that were actually not THAT bad.

A few years earlier, right before Pac-Man World 2 was going to be released, I got some sad news.  I was going to be let go from the newspaper because the editor of that section had moved onto another department, and they didn’t want to keep any of the reviewers from before.  So I sadly had to email the team and tell them to NOT send me a review copy because I was just let go and wouldn’t be able to review it.  But you know what?  The team sent me a copy anyway and they all signed the box!  I bet the PMW2 team members forgot they did that, but I’ll never forget it!  If you take away one thing from this article, it’s that you should never shy away from doing something nice to someone.  Because no matter how small, an act of kindness may mean the world to that person.  And signing that box and sending me the game certainly meant the world to me and really cheered me up after being let go from reviewing games at the newspaper for over five years!

Which is a shame that in the Pac-Man World: Re-Pac game, the original team wasn’t even credited!  At least as of this writing.  I hope Bandai Namco makes a patch to at least thank the team as a whole.  But until then, if Bandai Namco won’t credit them, than I will right here!  So here’s a list of the people who worked on that game!

Gil Colgate

Joey Headen

Brian Leake

Roman Scharnberg

Martin Cameron

Vince Joly

Monty Kane

Hardy LeBel

Ken McAll

Mike McLaughlin

Scott Rogers

Neil Strudwick

Brian Wanamaker

Jesse Taylor

Brian Schorr

Dana Christianson

Tommy Tallarico Studios

Joey Kuras

Todd Dennis

Mike Fischer

Jennifer Fitzsimmons

Eruch Adams

Gabe Benveniste

Brian Coker

Eric Coker

Ed Chennault

James Guirao

Scott Hill

Jared Jackson

Kyle Mannerberg

Hall Nguy

Hien Nguyen

Francisco Rivera

Itai Rom

Mark Sau

Shawn Taylor

Yoshi Homma

Jeff Miller

Tak Hyodo

Ys Noguchi

Aron Drayer

Garry Cole

Paul Guirao

Alex McLaren

Jennifer Tersgni

Hideki Yoshimoto

Yasuhiko Asada

Syukuo Ishikawa

Shigeru Yokoyama

Masanori Kato

Noby Kasahara

Masaya Nakamura

OK so yeah all I did was watch a video of the original PMW ending and copied the names.  And I’m sure that not everyone was credited there either.  I imagine that’s something else that happens a lot in the video game industry.  So if you were not credited here or if you were on the original Pac-Man Ghost Zone team, speak up and reach out to me and I’ll add your name to the list!

So now I think I’ll talk about the Pac-Man World: Re-Pac remake and what has changed and what has stayed the same.  I was really impressed with how close they got the play control and level design to the original game.  Which is good because many remakes don’t get the ‘feel’ of the original right.  The game is a little easier this time because they added an extra bar of health and a new move that’s like a flutter jump from Yoshi’s Island.  But you really don’t need that because jumping was never a problem for me in the original game.  They also changed some of the bosses to be easier, or just different.  For instance, the clown race is now in first person.  And the Krome Keeper boss is totally different.  In the original game, you had to turn into Metal Pac-Man to flip switches that had heating elements on them.  But in the remake, you just have to wait for the metal power up to come through a conveyor belt, then just dash into the robot boss.  Toc-Man’s fight has also changed a bit, but I won’t go into it so as not to spoil it too much.  Oh yeah, and Anubis Rex is still the hardest boss in the game, even though he’s only the second one!  But at least they changed some of the patterns to be avoided easier.

The cutscenes are a little different.  Mainly because they had to change the characters to be Pac-Mom, Pac-Boy, Pac-Sis, Pac-Buddy, etc.  I talked about this more in my Pac-Man Museum+ article, so I recommend you go read that if you want to know how I feel about that.  Honestly I like the original cutscenes better.  I know people are sometimes like, “Ew, 90’s PSOne era cutscenes,” but I think the ones in Pac-Man World were quite good.  There are also two different endings now.  If you don’t save all the family members, Pac-Man still eats a power pellet and chomps Orson a.k.a. Toc-Man at the end, and then the ghosts free the un-recused Pacs.  But if you do rescue them all, then Pac-Man forgives Orson and they shake hands and all the ghosts are at Pac-Man’s party, too.  Honestly I kind of like the new ending, but only because I like the ghost monsters just as much, if not more than, Pac-Man himself.

Luckily the music remained untouched, although it does sound clearer or maybe retouched.  But that may also be because I’m playing the remake on better speakers than I did the original game.  But here’s something I don’t get.  How did they get around the copyright laws with Ms. Pac-Man, when the music plays many licks from the Ms. Pac-Man intro and intermission themes?  I guess I don’t fully understand how these laws work.

Surprisingly, I did NOT get the special edition of Pac-Man World: Re-Pac.  The regular game only costs 30 bucks, but the special one was nearly three times that much, and it only came with some weird robotic anime Pac-Man statue.  It just looked like Namco had lots of unsold product in their online store and decided to throw it in there.  So I didn’t get it.  Plus I’m trying to save money.  Times are tough.  I kind of wish they would’ve included something more related to the game, like a soundtrack or art book.  But nothing beats one of my most prized possessions, a Pac-Man World store standup a good friend gave me a long time ago.  Here’s a pic.  Sorry for the bedpost blocking the view.  My room’s a little small.

And that’s all I have to say about Pac-Man World!  I may actually give Re-Pac my Game of the Year award at the end of the year.  Not because it’s the most deserving, although it’s still a fun game. But no, the reason why I may do that is because the game helped remind me of all the special memories I’ve had as a game reviewer covering the original game, and I’m very thankful for that.  And that’s just one example.  There are MANY other games I’ve had special memories with like that.  I may not have made game reviewing my full time job (yet).  I may not have millions of people hanging on my every word at IGN and I’m not a famous YouTuber influencer or whatever.  But I think I’ve had more great experiences like this than the average gamer has.  And you can’t take that away from me!  –Cary

One Response to “My Pac-Man World Experience”

  1. Hi, Cary. I am working on a documentary about the development and beta content of Pac-Man world 2. I noticed you were able to recall details of the early development of the game that only a hand-full of people know. Do you happen to have any videos, images, or documents of Pac-man world 2 that you could send me? Nothing would be too mundane as I’m trying to document as much as I can.

    Best regards,
    Joe Adler –

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