Pac-Man Championship Edition DX Review

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX [Available on XBLA and PSN]
ESRB Rating: E
Genre: Arcade Action
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Namco Bandai
Release Date: November 17th, 2010 (XBLA), November 23rd (PSN)

Parent Talk: Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is far different from the original Pac-Man, but it’s just as acceptable for parents as ever.  Championship Edition DX is filled with bright colors and intense techno music, but is Pack-Man at the core.  Players have to gobble pellets, avoid ghosts, and aim for high scores.

Imagine the original Pac-Man, multiply the ghosts by about fifty, significantly up the speed and add a techno-rave atmosphere—now you have Championship Edition DX. Xbox Live user received a similar game in 2007, titled Pac-Man Championship Edition, but this is better.  The content is insane thanks to all the mazes and modes, and the gameplay is fun and fresh.

The Great:
Super fun and addictive.  CE DX is a rewarding game.  There are several mazes and methods of play, like Score Attack and Time Trail.  When starting the game, only Championship II is available, but it doesn’t take long to unlock everything else.  The new is the addition of wayyyy more ghosts.  There are ghosts all over the screen, beyond the standard four.  To rack up higher scores, you can have every ghost follow behind only to eat a power pellet and devour ALL the ghosts.  It’s satisfying and never grows old.  There are nine mazes total (Spiral, Highway, Dungeon, etc.)—each with a unique layout.

The Good:

+ Awesome soundtrack.  The variety of songs is awesome.  Pulse-pounding techno isn’t the first concept people think of when playing Pac-Man, but it fits well here.  It enhances the experience.

+ Cool graphics.  Besides the variety of mazes, players can customize the look of each with different skins.  Some make the maze look like a LEGO block fortress, while others resemble something ripped out of TRON.  The colors can also be altered, so the player can tweak the game to his/her liking.  Even the sprites can be changed so Pac-Man and the ghosts always look different.  It’s a nice touch.

+ Tweaked gameplay.  In classic times, you simply ate all the pellets.  The focus is different now, though the aim is still to achieve high scores.  As with the original CE, some pellets appear on-screen, and more appear after consuming them.  Along the way, sleeping ghosts litter the track.  Moving near them wakes them up, and they follow in a long chain.  Also, after eating ghosts, the game speeds up more and more.  In order to prevent unfair deaths by running into enemies, there’s a neat “slow down” feature.  If you’re about to meet a ghost, the action can slow down, giving you precious time to escape.  If escape is impossible, bombs can send all the ghosts back to the middle of the board.  They’re use is limited though, and they can only be replenished by eating more ghosts.  It’s a clever mechanic and fundamentally changes the familiar Pac-Man formula.  While this all sounds difficult on paper, it’s simple when you actually play.  CE DX has some of the most addictive gameplay of any release this year.

The Bad:

– Static mazes.  While the mazes have different layouts that force you to play differently, the modes don’t change anything.  But this is easy to overlook.

– Similar presentation to Championship Edition.  It’s not a big problem, but people who bought the original may not want to purchase DX.

The Lowdown:

It’s hard to criticize Championship Edition DX.  The “bad” were items I struggled to think of.  This is a super addictive game for XBLA and PSN and is the perfect download.  It’s easy to dive in and play, and utterly foolish to pass up.

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