Pac-man Xbox Live Review
Welcome DarkZero readers. It is in this review that I will explain the gameplay of a 25 year old game that you already know how to play. In fact you may think the following 800ish words you are about to read may be nigh on unnecessary as everyone knows the story if the icon of 1980s popular culture, but sadly his XBLA debut does have a few issues you may like to know about.
To the uninformed, in Pac-Man you control a round yellow pizza shaped, puck-sized thing that you direct around each level gulping down all the pills (or dots in case mainstream media ask you). On each level there are 4 ghosts named Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde. You must eat all the pills (or dots) and avoid the ghosts. If you eat a power pill (power dot) the ghosts will turn blue and run away from you (you can then try and eat them). At random times throughout the levels bonus items such as fruit will pop up and you can eat them to get extra points. The main goal in the game is to get the highest score as possible and as a result can become very addictive (and last for 25 long years). This latest port of Pac-Man is the exact same thing we have frequently seen made over and over again by Namco and as a result we are filled with “Pac-Hate” that the developers did not add a few more options to broaden things out a bit now that the classic has hit XBLA.
The only options to make this version stand of from its (thousands of) predecessors is achievements and leaderboards. First let me speak about the achievements. Even though not everyone is interested in getting high Gamerscores and focusing on getting 200/200 points in every arcade title this is one title that really would have benefited if the developer put more thought into the achievements. All achievements to be earned just demand you put time in with the game but most of them are easy enough to have picked up within the first hour of play. For example one tasks you with eating four ghosts after snagging a pellet which is far too easy. The game longevity would have undoubtedly improved if better selection of achievements were on show. As you would expect Namco have included chance to compete on worldwide leaderboards, but who really has a chance to get onto the front page of that with all those crazy people with Gamerscore of 20,000+ out there. Even now, only a few days after the game’s release I can’t see myself getting anywhere near the top #300 even if I played till the end of time. When I am on the topic of the leaderboard I should add the game does give you to option to change the default settings (number of lives) but if you do this and happen to play a spectacular game you will then be ineligible to upload your score.
Visually the game looks just like you would expect it to and have probably seen on many monitor and TV in many homes and arcades throughout the world in the past. The game has been cleaned up slightly (maybe even that is to strong of a word) for it’s High Definition release, but it is not really that noticeable. It should be added that the game only takes up a third of the screen (with the rest being relegated to displaying artwork). Audio sounds just like you would expect it to be as well. All the short tunes and sound effects sound exactly like they did over the past 20+ years. Seeing as all of these sounds are now a part in video game history I don’t blame Namco choosing to leave this as they were [Editor’s note: So no need to wakka Namco in the head over it!]
Pac-Man is a classic title, and a game that has stood and will continue to stand the test of time, but nothing about the XBLA version makes it seem like a worthwhile purchase. While 400 of your Microsoft points may not break your marketplace bank and may not seem like that big of a price to pay, you actually don’t end up getting a whole lot for your money. The game also has some control issues as the 360’s d-pad does not seem sensitive enough while the analogue stick seems over sensitive. For a retro title that is all about twitch gameplay these shortcomings really are unforgivable. If you need Pac-Man there are many versions of the game online for free and if you need a 360 version the game is unlockable in Ridge Racer 6 (if you own the title). Namco really did not put much effort or money into this release. They did as little as possible to garner the largest profit they could and because of this a long time classic has suffered.
Only for those that crave nostalgia and don’t mind wasting 5 quid.
5.6 out of 10