For veteran gamers or those who keep up with their history, Pac-Man is instantly recognizable. The yellow circle with a missing pizza slice is one of the many forerunners of the hobby we know and love. However, with the character being over 30 years old, there is a concern that the younger generation of gamers has no clue who Pac-Man is and why he's so important. In an effort to educate that generation about the mascot, Namco Bandai is on a quest to bring more Pac-Man merchandise, including at least three games this year. One of those titles is Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, a game based on the Disney XD series that recently premiered.
Just like other licensed properties intended for kids, Ghostly Adventures is a platformer that shares a few similarities with the famous parent game. The title is mostly patterned after the Pac-Man World series. In our demo, Pac-Man had fairly big levels even though the game is linear instead of being open world. Dots litter the area and are considered collectibles. Ghosts are present, and while they can harm you, you don't need to eat a power pellet to take care them out. All you need to do is chomp them, and they'll be gone for good. The enemies try to pull off some tricks, such as disappearing through the ground and reappearing near Pac-Man for a surprise attack, but most are simply visible and try to rush you to steal your health. If you've played any 3-D platforming game in the past few console generations, you basically know what to expect.
A new addition to the formula is the changing of powers via hats. In our demo, Pac-Man got a hat that gives him chameleon powers. In addition to turning him green, the hat gave Pac-Man the power to become invisible and sneak by ghosts. It also increased his attack range and gave him the power to swing on poles using his tongue. Though we didn't see other hats on display, the new gameplay mechanic adds some more variety than expected.
We noticed a few quirks in the demo. The first has to do with Pac-Man's movement speed. For some reason, he felt a bit sluggish as he traversed each area. No one expects him to go at Sonic speeds, but he feels slower than the Mario or platforming heroes of yesteryear like Crash or Spyro. Also, while his chomp move is powerful, the range is pretty tough to gauge. With Pac-Man doing a bit of leaping motion once he chomps down, it's hard to tell how far he leaps. This means many chomps go into the air instead of toward a ghost. There's still some time before the game's release, so here's hoping that this issue will be addressed before the title graces store shelves.
All in all, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures has some promise. While it is a by-the-numbers platformer, it is fun and already looks polished. There's still more to uncover, including what the future levels will look like and what the proposed multiplayer will be. For now, platforming fans should have this title on their radar.
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