Pac Man World Review

Title: Pac-Man World
Developer: Namco
Game Type: PlayStation Classic
Download: 235 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download, Direct Download
EU Availability: Currently Unavailable

Think back on the original days of the arcade.  The days before we had portable powerhouse systems like the Vita and the 3DS.  Before the PlayStation and Nintendo 64.  Think back to when Arcades had games that weren’t full of 3D effects, zombie-shooting, and car-racing.  Back to the original arcades, more than 30 years ago.  There were very simple games to be played, and those games were incredibly fun for those people back then.  One iconic name among those few was the ghost-and-fruit-eating Pac Man.

More than 30 years ago, Pac Man was around in arcades, showing off a simple 2D Maze, where you collected dots and fruit and tried to avoid ghosts until you got a powerup which could devour them for big points.  The point of the game?  To get a higher score than last time.  It was a very simple thing, and people loved it.  As time and console progression went on, though, a lot of more deep games were coming out.  Little Pac-Man wasn’t left in the shadows of time.  In 1999, 20 years after the original Pac-Man debuted, he came back in the form of Pac Man World.

Pac Man World was on the Sony PlayStation and offered new depth to the world of Pac Man, offering 3D Platforming and Adventure, along with incorporating every element that made Pac Man unique in its original incarnation.  Dubbed “20th Anniversary Pac Man World”, it was a celebration of the franchise’s 20th anniversary, and has been on the PlayStation Network for some time, playable on the PlayStation 3 and the Vita.  Has it withstood the test of time?  Here is our official review of the PlayStation Classic, Pac Man World

Story

Pac Man didn’t really have a story, to begin with, but a storyline was made from past games.  If you recall, a female version of Pac Man came about, called Ms Pac Man in arcades, and many other characters were made from there.  The story of Pac Man World takes place in the Pac Man Universe, as if it were some world where all of these characters live and have a life.  The story starts with Pac Man’s 20th Birthday to reflect the franchise’s 20th Anniversary.

On this day, all of Pac Man’s family are kidnapped from his house by an evil villain known as Toc-Man.  Toc Man is a robotic doppelganger to Pac Man, and the Ghosts of Ghost Island (also seen as the Ghost enemies in the entire franchise) whom are aiming to get back at Pac Man.  As soon as Pac Man returns to his house only to find it completely deserted, he finds evidence of what has happened and sets off to Ghost Island to rescue his family and friends.

Apart from this, there isn’t much to the store.  The premise is that Pac Man is setting out to find his friends and bring them back to his home.  There is more to the story that unfolds near the end, but that is something I am unable to explain in this review to avoid end-game spoilers.  It’s much more of a story than the original Pac Man games had, and is enough to explain why you’re doing what you are doing.

Gameplay

Pac Man World implemented something unique that has recently been taken up by Nintendo with their newer games in the Mario series.  Pac Man World is mostly a side-scrolling platformer, but is also a 3D Platformer.  There are 3D elements thrown around in the game, though the majority of gameplay is done using a more side-scroller interface.  If you want something similar, think of it like the gameplay of Super Mario 3D Land, though that game’s 3D sequences and elements are a bit more extensive than in Pac Man World.

The game is set in three different Game Modes: Quest, Classic, and Maze.  Classic Mode is where you can go in and play the original arcade version of Pac Man.  This is just like it was in the arcade.  No enhancements or anything.  Just like playing in the arcade.  Maze Mode is a way to repeat Maze Stages you encounter in Quest Mode, which is the storyline Mode for the game, which will be explained later in the review.

Quest Mode is the only Mode that involves Save Files.  The game is set into six main areas, each with stages to progress through.  Each area has 3-4 stages in it and are themed around a type of environment.  There is a section around pirates, one around space, and other themes.  The last stage of each area is a Boss Fight, which unlocks the next area.  Once cleared, you can replay a stage as many times as you would like.

Each stage is a set of areas and platforms you must traverse.  As you are moving, Pac Man has a few moves he can perform.  Aside from being able to Jump, you can also perform a Ground Pound by selecting to jump while already in the air.  This is used for reaching high ledges, attacking enemies or activating switches to make a new path.  There is also a dash button, where Pac Man can run in place while you hold down a button.  This does a few things.  First off, you can dash with it, which will defeat enemies and enable you to jump ramps.  It also allows you to work machines and elevator lifts that have circular emblems on them.

Aside from encountering enemies, there are collectibles and special areas you can access while going through each stage.  Scattered throughout the stages are Pac Dots, which are those white (actually yellow) dots from the original arcade game that you collected to increase your score.  In Pac Man World, they are used both as weapons and currency.  As you collect them, you can throw them at enemies to attack them, and are adding to your total score once you finish a stage.

Other collectibles include fruit and letters.  The Fruit you collect resemble the same fruit that you eat in the arcade game, but are used as Keys.  You will come across locked doors with images of fruit on the front.  Obtaining the fruit and returning to that room will unlock the door, leading to a switch to progress further in the stage or take you into a Maze Room.

Maze Rooms are special areas that can be unlocked to play in Maze Mode.  They have you in a maze full of Pac Dots and Ghosts, just like in the arcade game, but it’s in 3D, and there are traps exclusive to each Maze that you must progress through without losing all of your HP to be able to finish and unlock for Maze Mode.  These are all optional areas that you don’t need to visit to finish each stage, but it’s fun to try it out, especially if you’re a fan of the arcade game.

Controls

Although this game was made late in the life-cycle of the PlayStation, Pac Man World doesn’t have a whole lot of extensive controls to it.  First of all, neither Analog Stick is used while playing the game, and nor are the L and R buttons.  The game has a pretty simple control scheme, though you can set the commands to whatever button or buttons you may like, due to the Settings area of the emulator the PS Vita uses to play PlayStation Classics.

Moving Pac Man is done with the D-Pad, with the Left and Right buttons moving left and right, and the Up and Down buttons going further away from the camera or closer in the 3D environments.  Jumping and doing the Ground Pound attack move are done with the X Button.  To charge your dash, you will be holding down the Square Button, and the Circle Button is used to attack enemies with collected Pac Dots.  Lastly, the Start Button will pause the game and open the Menu.

As such, this is a pretty simple game with simple controls.  This has less controls than even the Final Fantasy RPG games on the system use, which is quite interesting, as this is an action-based platformer.  Though it isn’t bad to have simple control schemes.  It’s pretty simple and easy to get used to and the controls respond well on the PlayStation Vita.

Presentation

Visually, the game doesn’t look bad, but also doesn’t look great.  Being on the PlayStation, there were certain limitations that came with the visual design of games.  While the environments and enemies were rendered pretty well for the time it was made, Pac Man had a pre-rendered face put on his model, and his model has a lot of jagged and rough edges on it.  Although this isn’t bad, but when you see enemy characters with more detail than he does, it does look a bit odd.

Otherwise, the game looks very colorful and vibrant.  The environments and backgrounds are all rendered on the PlayStation, rather than pre-rendered backgrounds and you can definitely see all of the depth each area has with the 3D parts of the game.

Content-wise, it isn’t a long game.  Each area may take you about 30-40 minutes to complete, making one run through the Quest Mode take about 4-5 hours.  This isn’t too long, though you do have the option to replay stages to get a better high score or unlocking more Maze areas.  Even then, I wouldn’t say a 100% Run would take any more than 8 hours or so.  It’s pretty short.

Overall

All in all, Pac Man World was a unique blend of side-scrolling and 3D Platforming, and has a host of elements fleshed out from elements of the original Pac Man.  With the arcade game in the game as well, fans of that classic game will be happy.  The gameplay is fun, though it definitely feels a little dated.  With only about 5 hours of storyline to it and not a huge amount of extra content to go for, the game is a bit lacking in content, but is definitely worth a look if you’re a fan of Pac Man and platformers.

The PlayStation Review Network rates Pac Man World a 7/10

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