Pac-Man is a classic. It cannot be denied and it would be unsurprising if the large majority of you have played some early iteration of the game, such as the Atari/arcade of the same name or the bow wearing Ms. Pac-Man. Pac-Man isn’t just an 80’s classic however, as the yellow puck has gone through many image changes and gameplay alterations including 3D worlds on the Wii U. The latest in the Pac-Man catalogue is the second installment in the ‘Championship series’ .
Instead of the story Wii U-like titles or Smash Bros idea of Pac-Man, this title returns to the early idea of the arcade genre. Champion Edition 2 pretty much takes the 1980’s, pumps it full of steroids and smashes it into modern technology with an addictive fast-paced pellet eating world of Technicolor. Its predecessor had the arcade feel to it with the idea of getting the highest score and beating your friends on Steam, or, beating fellow players from around the world. Without having to use all of your 50p coins (maybe just a couple at a good Steam sale price) you could play for hours in a fast map for five or ten minutes, using bombs to avoid ghosts whilst building up a huge army of them to much away upon eating a power pellet.
The second game, however, has given the series a big update and has slowed things down ever so slightly. The game still has the traditional Pac-Man feel, although that ever bit more bizarre in order to keep up with the potential of modern gaming. Pac-Man doesn’t move as fast as before (to be fair this is a major disappointment) and has little skills when you’re switching from corner to corner, end to end, or a sneaky little turn through the middle. You’re greeted with a tutorial that lets you walk through the different elements the game has to offer, an addition that provides no real difference whether you’ve played or not played a Pac-Man game before. For new players, you learn how to eat the pellets and collect fruit, and for returning players, you’re introduced to the fact that fruit is a vital collectable to progress in stages. Additionally, Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde have been enhanced to 100x their size for epic finale boss battles against the clock.
Whilst enjoying the disco music that flows well with the pixilated colours, as well as that sweet nostalgic introduction to any Pac-Man game, the ghost-eating is where everything changes. Power pellets are no longer placed in the corners of the map and will appear after completing a couple of pellet and fruit eating stages to progress. Like the previous game, you will have stable ghosts set around the map to be alerted upon your presence and will join the main ghost. Once gaining a power pellet, you are against the clock to chase the ghost trails around the map to eat them for the major points, all of which is in order to climb up the ranks of G to Star. As the maps keep changing, the further you progress the more difficult it might be to catch the ghost of those that are larger as there are more areas for the ghosts to avoid you. Upon getting them, the screen throws everything out of the window and turns everything into a 3D-pixelated mish-mash showing Pac-Man eating ghosts from all angles before falling back down to the stage.
Another difference is how bumping into ghosts will not be an instant death (a kick in the nostalgia, but also an interesting development), but instead you can bump them to irritate until they intentionally chase you. Where the game does falter really depends on your love of Pac-Man and arcade style games. If you love constantly getting high scores and trying to get an S-rank against the clock then this is a great game for you. If you are a more adventurous gamer who isn’t a fan of repetition with no story then this is probably not for you. Whilst the plus is the mixture of levels and styles of gameplay you get (single train and timed), the repetition is there and you will be going at the same style of game over and over again. This is fine as well if you like collecting achievements as completing this game is very easy going.
This game sets up a promising future for further Pac-Man installments whilst also being one of the easier titles in the franchise, which lowers expectations a little. Championship Edition 2 also lacks the traditional elements of Pac-Man, but it’s great to see the series taking what it knows and expanding into new ideas. A further use of 3D and more level design should create a fun and interactive Bandai Namco follow-up. Eat that fruit.