PacMan World 2
What's this? A 3D Pac-Man with cute little red boots? Ice-skating, swimming, doing shimmies and flip kicks? Not dying when a ghost touches you, merely losing a health wedge, which you can replenish by collecting 50 Pac-Dots? Sacrilege and blasphemy. It's not even like it's an exemplary platform game - possibly passable on console, but let down by dodgy camera angles and poor level design.
But wait. What's this? Collect special gold tokens and you can unlock the original Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Pac-Mania and Pac-Attack arcade games. Saved! It's a work of genius, clearly. Except... How can it be? The developer has actually managed to make the original Pac-Man games worse than they were 20-odd years ago. Jerky animations, a Pac-Man that's not even round and... Oh, I give up. Lucky it's only a tenner or we would have been really piqued.
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When I think Pac-Man, I think of wandering through mazes, gobbling dots, and chomping ghosts, not the running and jumping usually found in a 3D platform game. But Pac-Man World 2 successfully mixes these polar-opposite genres into an enjoyable lil* 21st-century brew. Most of the game looks and plays as if our yellow friend's been caught in the latest Crash Bandicoot. You progress through all the typical areas: forests, frozen tundra, a volcano and underwater. The level design is straightforward and challenging (especially later stages) but relatively low on surprises. The thing that makes PMW2 really different and fun is the way classic Pac-Man touches have been added. A maze here and there, Pac arcade games to unlock, fruits to collect, dots to gobble up, ghosts to chomp--the old elements are always there but never overpowering or too out of place. The same can be said for the visuals. They're good but not so mind-blowing that you want to stop and admire them. And surprisingly, Namco got the camera right. Like a few other games of this type (ahem, Sonic Adventure 2), it'll occasionally force you to look a certain way. But where Sonic forced you to make blind jumps, the camera here always picks a good angle. The only trouble spot comes during boss battles, where your view just doesn't flip around fast enough. Despite that, this simple, fun platformer is worth a look.
Colorful characters, butt-stomps, spin attacks, lava and ice worlds, random crap to collect--the Pacster's new outing packs the same ol' stuff you've seen in a million 3D-platform games before. But fortunately, everything here hangs together reasonably well. Control is darn good, and that counts when you find yourself getting into a comfy laid-back platform-hop-ping daze--until the camera is knocked goofy by some background obstacle and you lose concentration. Talk about a buzzkill. The levels themselves are fun if uninspired, although cheap deaths abound in later stages. Just accept the fact that the game likes to kill you out of the blue sometimes.
Some mascots age more gracefully than others; on one hand you've got your Marios and Sonics, on the other you've got your 7-Up Cool Spots. Pac-Man still has a few lives left, despite a rocky 20-year history, and PMW2 tastefully continues his trademark dotharvesting model in 3D. It's obviously skewed toward a younger crowd, but cool gameplay ideas inspired by Klonoa 2 squelched my guilt for enjoying a "kid's" game so much. If only the camera didn't feel like a drunken film student's first project--it would rarely show me what I needed to see, and preferred to lock down rather than negotiate simple objects. PMW2 is still worth a rental.
The only noticeable difference between this and the PS2 version of PMW2 is that the load time has been reduced significantly. On the GC, it’s so quick you hardly get the chance to read the level titles. Otherwise, this is the same solid game that mixes classic flavor with run-of-the-mill 3D action-platform gameplay. OT Pac stomps baddies in some pretty typical environments: forests, volcanoes, underwater and the biggest gaming cliche: a level where you’re running toward the screen, away from an avalanche. One of the cooler bits is a ride down a snowy mountain and through caves on ice skates. Even though some stages are derivative and don’t offer any real surprises, the classic Pac-Man touches make the game stand out. From unlockable Pac arcade games to 3D mazes worked into the levels, the throwback accents fit nicely. My only major complaint is that the camera (which is normally fine) becomes your worst enemy during boss battles and underwater. If you can stand a few obstructed views, though, PMW2 is a solid 3D platformer.