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 Pac-Man Championship Edition DX - Xbox Live, Playstation Network -

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PostSubject: Pac-Man Championship Edition DX - Xbox Live, Playstation Network -   Fri Dec 10, 2010 6:14 am

Pac Man. The classic.

It's simple. The classic arcade game that found it's way to arcades in 1980. A simple game that Namco/Midway wasn't at all expecting to become a hit. Just a yellow pie orb that travels through a blue maze avoiding nasty multicolored monster ghosts. After all, they had Rally-X!! A complex (for the time) turbo charged maze racing title with cars.

Little did they realize that Pac-Man would become the runaway hit it would, due to it's simplicity and it's incredibly subtle, intricate strategy based cat-and-mouse gameplay, and enemy AI enemy patterns that continue to be analyzed today.

And he was an icon, not because he was a highly defined, and charismatic oneliner spouting character. He was a yellow circle. Pac-Man was launched into superstardom as a franchise character soley on the strength of his nearly perfect game, that everyone played to death because it was just that damn good.

There was a lot more to the game than at first glance, and for it's day it was so revolutionary, that even it's own creators had little idea how this simple, perfect game would explode on the scene, becoming video game's first ever "franchise character" and still one of it's most celebrated, enduringly popular, never dated icons of all gamingdom.

Wait a minute... did I say... "never dated"?

Let's back up a bit.

Sure, Pac-Man IS the quintessential "video game" of all time, by it's name and brand alone. Sure, Pac-Man was a game that lasted for a long time, and became an overnight sensation that almost put Japan into an economic coin-shortage crisis.

But "never dated"? Let's see how accurate that truly is.

Video Gaming (especially in the US), since the glory days of the little yellow muncher haven't just evolved. They've underwent their own Roman Imperial fall into ruin, and subsequent rebuilt civilization since then, BEFORE their exponential evolutionary growth spurt into realistic graphics, Hollywood level stories, complex game design and structure. From the age of Super Mario Bros, to the age of Grand Theft Auto, Halo, competitive multiplayer online experiences, and motion controlled gaming, Pac-Man doesn't just look dated, but damn near prehistoric.

And as for amazing, and innovative as Pac-Man's formula was, let's face it... While not entirely forgotten, it's in a league left behind and revered only by the nostalgic and retro aficionados, no matter how much of a household name that the Pac-ster was or still is.

What's to do? Bring him into 3D? Make him into more of an anthropomorphic, fully rendered personality to keep his appeal up in the current day? Great ideas, one would think on the surface. And not entirely failed ideas, either. Heck, they worked. But only just.

Therein lies the problem. Simply physically updating Pac-Man for the generations of today while forgetting his admittedly outdated formula and going with the current days trend, works only enough to keep the license's head above water. Aside from a few starts of innovative ideas like "Pac-Land", "The New Adventures", and "Pac Man World" all are just substandard imitations of everything around him.

Pac-Man falling into the norm, the standard, the average, and not coming out ahead, or memorable. Certainly not leading the "Pac" anymore. Not a failure, but not a great success today. This is an aging, out of touch Pac-Man in a suit, blending in, being one of the unappreciated, nine-to-fivers, existing among the icons, overshadowed by every Super Mario, Ken & Ryu, Master Chief and Sackboy to come along since 1980.

Pac-Man. What do you do with him in 2010?

Well, with Pac-Man Championship Edition, you go back to the drawing board. You take Pac-Man's basic element. And you update everything where it counts. The essense of Pac-Man's core and you apply the best of competitive pure solid gameplay and blow it out into something breakneck, addictive, current and yet still true to form of the Pac-Man we know.

You have the maze, you have Pac-Man, you have the ghosts, you have the dots, you have the power boosting equalizer that changes the hunted into the hunter. All the aspects. What do you do with it?

Recombine it into everything that people expect and want from pure gameplay and nothing but pure gameplay. You no longer simply have the objective set before you, of "avoid the ghosts, eat the power pill, grab the bonus, rinse, lather, repeat." forever until the end.

You begin the game, the timer counts down from a set amount, and you are set on the path of completing the trail of dots set before you in the maze. Complete the path, grab the fruit, and open up the other side of the screen with a slightly more complicated path. As you continue, your speed boosts. As your speed boosts, you can score more points more quickly, speed by, but in turn the maze becomes more and more difficult to navigate effectively, and split second decisions and razor nerve timing is increasingly nessessary to avoid the enemies.

The game gets faster, the pace more intense, the strategy more involved. Meanwhile on the race to score points and open up more pathways of dots, the ghosts call on more ghosts. You race by more sleeping ghosts you wake up and give chase. Ghosts who see you, become aware of your location, become angry and give chase more determinedly, until lines of 10 or 20 ghosts are now pursuing close behind you as you race from one end to the other completing your paths as the time ticks downwards.

Finally you get your break, a power pill reward for completing the dot paths appears on the other side of the screen as you race towards it, a huge conga-line of enemies trailing you, gaining on your pac-backside! You grab it and turn the tables. Reverse course and the 20 ghosts bearing down on you, putting you on edge of fear now becomes satisfying elation as you combo chomp the pile of motherfuckers like tasty blue dominoes toppling before your jaws!! OHHH so awesome!!!

But don't blink because the game is getting faster, and more ghosts are popping up, bearing down on you, the paths get even crazier, the patterns more complex, and the time ticking ever downwards signaling the end of the round for the course.

That's the action of Pac-Man Championship in a nutshell.

And it is far more addicting then even I ever thought Pac-Man could be. Not a single fundamental concept of Pac-Man betrayed, rather, heightened in every way that every fundamental concept of Pac-Man possibly can be and it all just elevates an immortal, but outdated gaming formula into something precisely amazing, while upping the tension, the gameplay, and above all, the fun.

But the game doesn't stop there. There are a plethora of different types of mazes, courses, gameplay rules, setups, and elements the layer on this experience making this a game with incredible replay value as well.

The DX version adds so many great things to a nearly perfect game that almost seem to make the game "extra perfect" and highly fine-tuned.

Firstly it gives you many different maze types to progress through, that all feel very different and all add a VERY specific touch of unique strategy to them. A "Highway"-esque maze layout, A "spiral" path full of twisting and turning, a darkened maze illuminated by a glow revealing the action around you, ect.

Add to this, all of the game rules, like "Score Attack" that sees you trying to accumulate the highest score by the end of the round, "Combo" modes in which you have to string together the most wicked chomping combo, "Fruit Attack" in which you work to accumulate all the bonuses that you can.

Also factored into the game are mini "Bullet time" moments in which time slows down drastically and you get a swishy dramatic zoom when you're about to be hit head on by a ghost that gives you the presence of mind to evade, while adding a direct feeling of even more reflex tension, and of course... life saving bombs, of which you have a limited number to use to narrowly escape the "boxed-in" moments.

Completing the courses, all of the different rulesets for them, and in turn opening up brand new courses that you can't wait to try out, and retrying to achieve the highest rank you can... the game is so amazingly fun in all of it's courses that it really makes you want to challenge yourself for the best rankings of each course in each moveset, simply due to the intense, addictive quality of the game itself.

And if that isn't enough, you're also provided with different maze styles and visual options. Flashy neon mazes, solid classic style mazes, 3D "Pac-Mania" style lego-block mazes, retro dot-matrix LED mazes, and different visual syltes for the sprites to mix and match with as well.

Also the sound effects and music in this game are equally intense, amazing and unbelievably cool and also serve to make the game even more exciting. The audio matches the visuals and the gameplay in just being near perfect in their execution.

There are even options to watch expert demo run-throughs of the levels, that you can use as a guide to attempt a perfect run yourself. A hell of a lot easier said than done, believe me.

That all being said, remember the beginning of this review? About Pac-Man's classic formula being eventually outdated and sadly left behind in today's current scope of competetitive and evolved gaming? How Pac-Man had, for generations, struggled to not only keep up, but to lead back into being an outstanding game that deserves to be as highly rated and as polished, lasting, exciting, well-made and as fun as anything else of the current day, if not maybe more so?

Well, congratulations, Pac-Man Championship DX. Welcome back into the top level of gaming greatness once again. We missed ya.

Absolutely highly recommended. For retro gamers OR for current gamers looking for something with tons of replay value, and core hardcore gaming greatness as good as anything. Pac-Man Championship DX is well worth ANYONE'S purchase.

9.8 out of 10.
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PostSubject: Re: Pac-Man Championship Edition DX - Xbox Live, Playstation Network -   Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:15 am

cheers

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PostSubject: Re: Pac-Man Championship Edition DX - Xbox Live, Playstation Network -   Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:29 am

Yup, I finally wrote one.

More reviews to follow. I hope.
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