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Pac-Man World 20th Anniversary (PlayStation) artwork

Pac-Man World 20th Anniversary (PlayStation) review

"While it doesn't set the world alight, Pac-man world is a pleasant re-visiting of the phenomenally popular arcade game. "

While it doesn't set the world alight, Pac-man world is a pleasant re-visiting of the phenomenally popular arcade game. And as well as a classic game mode or two, there's also some nicely revamped mazes and a fairly large platform game to go with it. Not bad at all.

I'm pretty sure there's not a soul on this earth who hasn't enjoyed munching up pink dots and vulnerable ghosts as a small yellow head at one time or another. But In case you haven't, I'll explain the premise. Your munching head is present in a corridor maze full of dots, all of which must be devoured to progress. But also wondering around the maze are some jelly-fish style ghosts who will kill you on contact. It's fairly easy to avoid them most of the time, but once they've got you into a corner, it's considerably harder to escape. But buy eating a large dot (Let's call it the super dot) you will turn the ghosts edible for a short amount of time, giving you a chance to get rid of some of them. Once they've been weakened though, they do their best to get away from you. Cowards!

It seems the main focus has been put into the platform game though. The story is that on Pac Man's twentieth birthday (which ties in nicely with the 20th anniversery theme of Pac-Man) evil Toca Man (Eh?) steals all your family and friends and takes them to his palace of evil, or some such dark haven. Pac man comes home distraught that all his friends are gone (None of which, aside from Ms. Pac Man, I recognised). So what does he do? Does he call the police and sit back to eat his cake which is now free of the mouths of greedy relatives? Pffffff.

The answer is, naturally, he sets out to save them himself. So off we set on fifteen or so levels (Pretty big ones too) to save greats like..... er, the dog that's similar to Pac-Man. Yes, him. It's stunningly basic and completely linear, but it's actually very fun. Scowl at Namco all you want for cynical cash-ins, but they throw together a decent package.

Throughout the game you collect dots which can be used for bullets against enemies. There are two other moves useful for disposing of foes, the butt bounce (TM every platformer in the world) and the speed dash. Hold the circle button for a certain amount of time, and Pac man will run on the spot faster and faster until you let go when he'll dash forward at great speed. This will kill some enemies and is also useful for sprinting up steep hills or powering moving platforms.

The game allows you to move in 3-d but it's really just a 2-d platformer with a couple of open rooftops. If you've played the side on levels in the crash Bandicoot series you'll know exactly what I mean. It's not exactly original but the levels are designed with enough variation to hold your interest (loooooong as they are) and it's actually pretty fun to play. Perhaps it's just nostalgia kicking in but I found the platforming levels to be engagingly simple and brightly designed. I never got bored with it, although I was constantly aware that I was playing a game that was nothing special, and with some imagination, could have been a whole lot better. Still it's more challenging than you might think. The controls are pleasingly responsive, and for many sections you'll be thankful for it. While it's mainly wander around killing enemies, opening chests and working out simple platformer puzzles, the game does occasionally throw some controller demolishing bits at you. So the pacing is perfect.

Collect special symbols hidden behind doors in the game (This will take some backtracking and strategic(ish) item using) and you will unlock the 3-d mazes. Although these aren't as fun to play as the classic version available fully from the start (Because you can never see the whole arena at one time, often leading to unfair trappings) it's still Pac-man. The mazes are STILL well designed and the sound of eating dots is STILL immensely satisfying.

It's well animated too. Some of the character's happy faces are a little static but the ghosts and old paccy himself remain faithful to the old 2-d incarnations (Not the arcade sprites of course). The levels are also endlessly charming. They may not look amazing, but it has a bizarrely accurate sense of atmosphere. I've never 'felt' like I was in a pirate village by the beach more than I did when playing this, lots of little details like the olde wooden houses and barrel-filled piers help this. It's not amazing to look at, but it fits the cheerful style of the game perfectly.

The music also helps. It's impossible-to-dislike pantomime style music (You americans just nod and continue, o.k?) plays all throughout, and I couldn't help but hum along. The sound effects are also fittingly arcadey and over-acted.

It will take a while to do as well. The game is never extremely difficult but it does get progressively harder and there are quite a few levels, and they go on for ages. Older gamers like me (Who really shouldn't be playing this) will have it polished off in a short amount of time. But unlocking all the mazes will provide some extra replay value. Plus if you like Pac-man then the lifespan is potentially endless.

Throughout writing this review I've constantly been scrolling up to the 'your score' box and changing my score from 6 to 7 and vice versa. Although this has been a positive review overall, I really feel it doesn't try hard, or achieve enough to get a seven. But then again, I had a good time and there's lots of stuff to do. In the end 'fun-factor' as some people call it, prevailed. If your the kind of person who likes thrilling first person shooters packed with blood (Which, admittedly, I'd probably like more than this) then I wouldn't really recommend you to get it. But if you don't mind a simple but competent platformer with lots of classic puzzle modes then by all means go for it. It's less than two thirds of the price of normal playstation games anyway.

Pacs quite a punch *laughs*
+ Consistently enjoyable
+ Has a welcome retro feel to it
+ Decent enough graphics and sound
+ Fairly big
+ Lots of different modes
+ Quite a number of hidden extras to uncover
+ Charming
+ It's pac man!

- A little too simple
- Never fully challenging
- It has quite a forced happy atmosphere
- It seems like all the modes in the game are merely extras for the 'main game' which seems to be missing
- Lack of imagination
- If you're buying this for it's platformer mode, there are much better out there.

maxh's avatar
Community review by maxh (Date unavailable)

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