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Ms. Pac-Man (Xbox 360) artwork

Ms. Pac-Man (Xbox 360) review


"Everything here is represented almost precisely the way you would expect. The center of the screen is taken up by a vertical bar that depicts the action in its original aspect ratio. The edges have artwork that adorned some original cabinets. They’re a nice way to fill the space that otherwise would have existed. The bleeps and beeps you hear as Ms. Pac-Man explores each arena also remain untouched. In short, this is exactly the game you remember and have played a million times."



She can hear her heart beating, pounding in her chest until it aches and she begins to believe that it will rip free from her body from the sheer force of its intensity.

Thump…

A wraith rounds the corner, beady eyes fixed on hers. It floats toward her, impossibly fast. Behind her, another of the ethereal forms materializes. She’s penned in, sure to perish in the depths of the labyrinth.

Thump, thump…

They draw closer, mouths open now so that she can stare down their gaping throats and into an abyss so deep it leaves her cold and clammy. If she perishes here, what will she have accomplished? Will anyone mourn her passing?

Thump, thump, thump…

And then… salvation. Deeper in the corner, nestled amongst shadow, she spies the pellet. It’s bigger than the others, glowing with a vibrant light that plays across her features. Here at last is the one chance she needs. She lifts it to her mouth and swallows the orb, just in time. Energy courses through her veins and she feels alight with a magical fire.

Almost upon her, the ghosts pause as their bodies flash with a new light. A deep blue aura washes over them and suddenly the malice in their eyes turns to terror. They try to flee, to scatter to the winds in the face of her wrath, but they are helpless against her rampage. One falls beneath her, then another. Their screams fill the arena and their souls take flight toward the hell that spawned them.

Ms. Pac-Man actually isn’t like that. The imagery is a lot more cheerful. Pink, orange and blue walls hardly intimidate. Ms. Pac-Man herself looks like a yellow pizza with a slice missing and the ghosts could be the same but with sheets draped over them. It’s the kind of game anyone can play, the sort of experience no one could possibly find menacing. It’s perfect for coin-op machines at the local arcade or pizzeria, which is exactly where you’ll find the game to this day. Also, it’s on the Xbox Live Arcade.

I’m glad Namco Bandai didn’t feel the need to change anything. Everything here is represented almost precisely the way you would expect. The center of the screen is taken up by a vertical bar that depicts the action in its original aspect ratio. The edges have artwork that adorned some original cabinets. They’re a nice way to fill the space that otherwise would have existed. The bleeps and beeps you hear as Ms. Pac-Man explores each arena also remain untouched. In short, this is exactly the game you remember and have played a million times.

There are slight tweaks for the Xbox Live experience, of course. As was true of Pac-Man when it was released several months back, you can continue from the stage where you died once your last life is exhausted. There are achievements to unlock, too. You get one for grabbing the fruit in the first few stages, for eating all four ghosts after snagging a single pellet, for repeating that feat four times in a single stage and for reaching the 21st stage. Any gamer should have little difficulty unlocking all but one or two of them, and there are bound to be some who appreciate the easy points.

Controls are different, too. The Xbox 360 is no arcade stick, so you’ll have to use either the d-pad or the analog stick. Using the former causes you to occasionally head down paths you didn’t intend to follow. The latter option works better and should come to feel natural almost immediately. Pac-Man required a patch before controlling your avatar felt natural, so it’s good to see that the developers learned from their mistakes and got things right the first time on this newest release.

That’s all they did, though. Ms. Pac-Man doesn’t hold so much as a single surprise. If you’re okay with that and just want to play another few rounds of an arcade favorite (as I did), it comes easily recommended as the best release the title has seen on a home console. If you wanted extras or you were never a fan in the first place, steer clear. If only every decision were so simple...

Rating: 8/10

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Staff review by Jason Venter (January 15, 2007)

Jason Venter founded HonestGamers in 1998, and since then has written hundreds of reviews as the site's editor-in-chief. He also is a prolific freelancer with game reviews, articles and fiction available around the Internet.

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