"The next time I pass that old Ms. Pac-Man cabinet I'll have to pop in a few quarters"
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ is... Pac-Man, but with a few changes. You're still running around classic Pac-Man style mazes in 2D gobbling up all the pellets you can find while dodging the ghosts that chase you. Grab a power pellet and you can turn the tables on the ghosts and go after them and eat them to get more points. There are, however, a bunch of differences between this and the Pac-Man you play at the arcade.
For starters, the levels aren't typically filled with pellets for you to eat; they just have a few on each side. Eating all the pellets on one side of the screen spawns a fruit on the other side, and eating that fruit spawns a new maze configuration and a new set of pellets on the other side. Play your cards right and you'll be moving from side to side and causing new patterns of pellets to constantly spawn. The ghosts behave differently in this version of Pac-Man also. There are a bunch of ghost who behave normally, wandering the maze somewhat randomly, but then there are sleeping ghosts who sit in the maze until you pass by them, which wakes them up and causes them to obsessively chase you. As you wake up more and more ghosts, they form a giant conga line behind you that be like 30+ ghosts long. And then, when you finally run into a power pellet, it's a ghost massacre as you rapidly eat the whole huge line of ghosts. This is a wild, visceral thrill and a fantasy made reality to those who have always sought bloody revenge on the ghosts for eating all their quarters. The game is also wildly fast in places, as the game speeds up when you are doing well and slows down when you are having trouble. Keep the speed up is key to high scores. You can reach near uncontrollable speeds, but whenever you are about to crash into a ghost and die, the game goes into slow motion, allowing you to take evasive maneuvers. Then there are bombs. Pressing almost any button causes you to use a bomb, which blows all the ghosts back to their holding pen in the middle of the board. This is your last ditch effort to save a life when you are cornered and there are no power pellets in sight. You only have a few bombs, but you can earn more by scoring points. The final change from classic Pac-Man are your goals. Each of the boards has many challenges for you to dip into, such as timed score attack modes, ghost combo modes (where you see how many ghosts you can eat in one chain), and time trial modes where you see how fast you can get to a certain number of fruits.
The dichotomy between the score attack and time trial modes is quite interesting. In score attack you want to get a huge following of ghosts that you can eat all at one time for a bigger multiplier while keeping the game speed up as high as possible so you can get to more ghosts to eat. In time trial, you want to ignore the ghosts completely and just dash straight at the fruit. These modes feel a little weird if you are playing in offline mode like me, as without a high-score board there isn't much motivation to try to improve your score. Also if you are playing without an internet connection, you will need to dismiss the searching for connection screen almost constantly; an offline mode option to get rid of this would have been nice.
In the time trials, with very few exceptions, you are given way more time to complete the challenges than you could possibly need. For example, a time trial might take you 3 minutes, but you are given up to 10 minutes to complete it. It might have been nice to have tight limits that would challenge people who aren't using the high score board, or have rankings such as bronze, silver, and gold clear times for you to shoot for. You do get a small taste of score chasing if you follow the trophies and in-game medals that give you some interesting scores to shoot for, but once I had hit all of those and tried out every challenge, I felt that I was done with the game.
The courses included here are pretty neat and differentiate themselves nicely from each other. Some feature multiple paths off one side of the screen that lead to the other, with wild pellet patterns that have you popping on and off the screen like mad. Others feature tight configurations or dense ghost patterns, or lots of sleeping ghosts you need to go out of your way to wake up if you want a good score.
There are lots of cool visual options and music options to choose from, from classic visuals to 3D and digitized looks, and lots of frenetic, panic inducing music to match the game's quick pace.
The game is actively trying to hawk dlc levels and skins to you in a somewhat distasteful way. For example, the dlc levels are listed on the main menu next to all the main levels you unlock one at a time. So when I got to the end of the main levels and expected the next one to unlock, it didn't, and I was told I'd need to buy the next 4 levels I thought I was about to play since I'd been staring at them from the get go and they look like they will unlock just like all the other levels do. The DLC levels look cool, but they are $2 a pop, and I think I bought the whole game for $1, so I don't think I'm interested unless they go on sale.
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ is a fun little trip down memory lane that takes an unexpected detour into new concepts and fun twists on classic ideas. It's short if you just want to try out all of the levels and get all the trophies, but I can see how obsessed you could get with trying to beat peoples scores using the leaderboards. I had a blast with Pac-Man DX, and I'm guessing that the next time I pass that old Ms. Pac-Man cabinet at the movie theater I frequent, I'll have to pop in a few quarters and see if the crazy action of Pac-Man DX has improved my skills at the old school version. It's a 3 out of 5.
Community review by Robotic_Attack (June 25, 2016)
Robotic Attack reviews every game he plays... almost.
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