It’s Pac-Man’s 20th anniversary and all his family and pals are getting ready to throw a big bash for him. The evil Toc-Man, however, is jealous of Pac-Man’s popularity and sends out his henchmen Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde (as well as some other unnamed ghosts) to capture all of Pac’s buddies and family and throw the party for himself instead. It’s now up to Pac-Man to save Ms. Pac-Man, Pac Jr., Baby Pac, Professor Pac, Pooka (yes, the one from Dig Dug -- how’d they meet?), and Chomp-Chomp the dog from their prisons on Ghost Island then defeat the ghosts and Toc-Man. Good luck and get chomping!
Pac-Man World is the 20th Anniversary sequel to what’s generally considered the most popular coin-op arcade game of all time: Pac-Man. While the meat of this game is a 3D-platform style game, there is still plenty of the maze action that originally made this game so incredibly popular.
Pac-Man World’s gameplay is broken up into three different parts: Quest, Mazes, and Classic. Classic allows you to play (you guessed it) the classic original version from the arcade. Maze mode allows you to play in the same style as the original game, but in many different maze scenarios that reflect the levels in the Quest mode. The various scenarios include different hazards also, such as blocking laser beams or dropping rocks in set locations. The Maze and Quest modes go hand in hand as you can find and unlock new mazes in Quest mode which then become available in Maze mode.
Quest mode makes up the bulk of the game. It is played as a 3D-platform style game. Pac-Man has evolved a bit since his two-dimensional days as he can now jump, dash, swim, roll, throw dots, and butt-bounce his way through any obstacles in his path. In addition to ghosts attacking him, there are all sorts of other baddies that change depending on the particular level that is being played. For instance, in Pirate levels you need to look out for walking skeletons whereas in space you may have electrical aliens trying to fry you. Most of these enemies are easily dispatched by a butt bounce, a dot being thrown, or by rolling into them. There are lots of items to pick up along the way such as various fruits (which will allow you access through certain fruit doors), dots, and power pills (of course), extra health or lives, the letters spelling PACMAN, and keys to free your friends and family. Grabbing these items will give you access to bonus levels and extra mazes. The end of each level will give you some chances at extra lives by trying your hand at matching fruit on a slot machine. At the end of each level you are taken to Ghost Island; from there you can go to and play any level to which you have previously gained access. The scenarios are varied nicely and consist of Pirate, Ruins, Space, Funhouse, Factory, and a Mansion. There are three or four levels per scenario including a boss level. The boss levels are interesting, as each one is unique. The bosses themselves are challenging, but not impossible to beat.
The controls handle quite nicely. You can use the D-pad, or if using a dual-shock controller, you can use either stick to control Pac-Man. The analog allows you to walk slow or run depending on how hard it’s pressed. I found that depending on the situation, sometimes the analog stick works better and sometimes the D-pad works better. The camera in this game strafes alongside Pac-Man for the most part. I found this makes the game easier to play than others that attempt to have the camera follow you since you can actually see what’s going on around you at any given time with the camera positioned this way. Experienced game players as well as novices should have no trouble learning how to control Pac-Man, which makes for a better all-around gameplay experience.
The interface is as simple as virtually every other game out there. If you can read, you should have no problems with it at all. In some cases, though, you may need to pay attention to what button will do what action. For instance, on the slot machine screen, I accidentally hit X instead of O to stop the slots and ended up canceling that screen altogether (effectively killing my chance at extra lives -- doh!) The game allows you to save up to three separate games on your memory card. After you complete a Quest level, you will be asked if you want to save. Be sure you have at least one free block before you do this, though, as the game doesn’t allow you to delete any blocks if the card is full.
I liked ‘em a lot. The graphics are bright and colorful. The characters have that more up-to-date, refined, 3D cartoonish look that most older cartoon characters seem to get after being around awhile. The animation is very fluid, detailed, and nice to watch. A prime example of this is watching Pac-Man butt-bounce around the screen -- you can see him tumble every way possible and flail his arms around. I was impressed by this amount of detail. All the stationary objects and background objects also look nice. By PlayStation standards, they all look pretty normal to me. There are some minor special effects in the game such as sparkling icons or laser beams. Fortunately, almost none of the graphics, foreground stuff excluded, get in the way of seeing other things on screen. Overall I found everything to be tasty eye candy.
Think of the original coin-op version of Pac-Man, only updated and added to... a lot. Many of the same sounds are there -- eating dots, power pills, fruits, chomping ghosts, etc. The music in the game is great and really fits in quite nicely with whatever current scenario is being played. For instance, if you’re on the Pirate levels, the music has a Caribbean sound whereas the outer space levels have more of an "outer-spacey" sound about them. Overall, the sounds and music are cheery and upbeat and are not dull by any means.
System Features Supported
One player (you can play two-player alternating in Classic Mode), Memory Card (1 block), Shock compatible, and Analog compatible
The ESRB rating is right on with this one. This IS a game for everyone. It’s challenging, but not too hard. It has responsive control, nice graphics and sound, and plenty of variety with general gameplay. If you’ve ever enjoyed any of the Pac-Man games in the past, you’ll probably appreciate what this game has to offer. This game will probably also appeal to those who like classic platform style games as this one plays a bit more like a 2D-platform game than most other platform games today even though it has the 3D element. Although the game may not be the most original thing out there (it IS based on a 20 year old game, after all), it definitely has original elements (such as the bosses) -- much like what made the original Pac-Man so successful. I was quite pleased all around and really found nothing to gripe about, which is why I’m happy to give this game a score of 89.