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Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2

Platform(s): Nintendo 3DS, PlayStation 3, WiiU, Xbox 360
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Release Date: Oct. 3, 2014

About Brian Dumlao

After spending several years doing QA for games, I took the next logical step: critiquing them. Even though the Xbox One is my preferred weapon of choice, I'll play and review just about any game from any genre on any system.


3DS Review - 'Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2'

by Brian Dumlao on March 27, 2015 @ 2:00 a.m. PDT

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 will feature Pac, Spiral and Cylindria in an all-new storyline as they defend PacWorld from the ghoulish army of Lord Betrayus.

The original Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures on the 3DS was a different iteration compared to the home console versions. The focus on 2-D platforming instead of 3-D made sense, but the result was mediocre, especially when compared to similar games on the system. In our previous review, it was suggested that the game might have been better off as a full 3-D adventure, since there weren't too many of those at the time. It seems Vicious Cycle had the same idea, as Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 is a 3-D platformer on the 3DS. It's actually a carbon copy of the home console version, just in a scaled-down form.

As far as licensed games go, the plot is simple but effective. After being defeated countless times by Pac-Man and his friends, Lord Betrayus has figured that the key to winning and ruling the world depends on being corporeal again. Unfortunately, trying to accomplish that in the past has often led to failure. Coercion, however, seems to be the new plan, as Betrayus has devised a way to get Pac to steal the body for him — in a complicated way that involves rehashing previously failed schemes.

Like the first game, the presentation of the story is fine, though it goes back to some plots and locations covered by the TV series. There are references, so it acknowledges the source material despite the divergent paths. What the story fails to capitalize on, though, is the humor. Compared to the show, the jokes here are very few and far between. When they do show up, they're rather dry, and the punchlines are predictable when the gag begins. For those looking for a game that's as funny as the show, you'll be disappointed.

The game is played out as a 3-D platformer but with a slightly fixed camera angle instead of a mobile one, lessening the need for the mobile camera in a majority of 3-D platformers. As before, Pac-Man is rather gluttonous as he walks, leaps and eats just about everything in his path, from fruit to pellets to ghosts. His standard form lets him temporarily scare ghosts, so they don't try to attack him and are worth more points when eaten. Along the way, you can obtain different colored pellets that give Pac-Man powers to complement his eating abilities. Fire pellets, for example, give you the ability to throw fireballs, and Magnet pellets let you latch on to metallic objects, so you can walk upside-down or walk on walls. Granite pellets let you become a giant stone wrecking ball, while the Rubber pellet transforms you into a bouncy ball and increases your bounce capabilities. You'll need all those powers when you traverse the worlds, which are comprised of several stages each and culminate in some fairly large boss battles.

Aside from the standard platforming with and without those extra powers, you'll also play with vehicles in some areas. Some parts have you riding highway tubes to avoid traffic while you shoot ghosts. Other sections see your friends come through with vehicles that you can ride for advanced platforming. New to the game is the ability to control Cylindria and Spiral in their vehicles. They show up at times during some of the boss fights, your main interaction includes flying down levels as they shoot down their required quota of ghosts and avoid obstacles.

When compared to the original 3DS game, the sequel is much more robust. Part of this comes down to the fact that 3-D platformers are still not very abundant on the platform. Making this go from 2-D to 3-D helps it stand out in the field and gives fans something beyond Super Mario 3D Land. The level layout is good, and the introduction of powers makes the game feel fresher. The most notable improvement in this regard is in the controls, which seem tighter than before. Whether it's because of the nature of the analog disc pad or some tweaks were made to this area, movement feels more responsive, and jumping feels more precise.

Though the game has improved in some areas, it retains most of the flaws of the home console version. The fixed camera angles may have solved the issue of camera control on a system that lacks a second analog stick, but it also means that some hazards and pathways remain hidden from sight. There are a number of instances when you take blind leaps or chomps to get an idea of where you need to go because the camera doesn't move. The presence of challenge levels is good for those who want a break from the platforming, but their limited presence in hub worlds makes those spaces seem wasteful. Also, the levels are perfect for a portable system since they can be finished in short bursts, but the sheer number of them and the limited number of backdrops mean that level fatigue sets in far sooner than expected.

Graphically, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 is pretty good if you temper your expectations. The backgrounds are blurrier in their environment textures than the home console versions, and they feature a few more visible polygon seams, but they're generally rather good. To a lesser extent, the same can be said for the character models, though the prevalent jaggies mean there's a noticeable fidelity drop, especially during cut scenes. The frame rate isn't optimal, but it is still playable, and performance is equal in both 2-D and 3-D. Speaking of 3-D, the effect looks good and provides some depth, but there are parts where the effect makes the game harder to play. Getting a token for bonus point time makes the timer move forward a tad more in 3-D than in 2-D, obscuring your vision since there's no transparency for the timer. 3-D fans will still find the rest of the effects pleasing, but 2-D is a better option here.

As far as sound goes, it hits pretty close to what the home consoles could deliver. The voice samples from the home console game are all here, so nothing is omitted. They may be different actors from the TV series, but their performances are still top-notch and fit the characters well. Sound effects borrow liberally from the original arcade game, which is great since it blends well with the newer effects while remaining nostalgic for older fans. The effects also expand the game's range, since they seem to be coming from beyond the normal range of the system's speakers. The music is where problems arise. The tracks are fine, and some of the issues from the home console iteration, like noticeable periods of silence when the tracks loop and drowning out the sound effects, have been fixed. However, the main track that plays during each level drowns out other incidental tracks that play during the related cut scene, such as the important introduction of power pellets. Unless you turn up the volume to maximum levels, you're not going to hear some of the audio.

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 may benefit by being on a system that still doesn't have many good 3-D platformers, but overall, it is just a decent game. The short stages work well on a portable, but the amount of levels seems like a slog. The levels that feature your companions are nice, and although Pac has no new powers, those who've only played the previous portable incarnation will find that their uses are new enough. The presentation is good, though scaled down in places, but at least no levels are missing. In the end, the title is a good rental, and a purchase should only be considered if you need a 3-D platforming fix when you're on the move.

Score: 6.5/10

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