STAFF REVIEW of PAC-MAN Championship Edition 2 (Xbox One)


Friday, September 30, 2016.
by Brent Roberts

PAC-MAN Championship Edition 2 Box art There are very few gaming icons that have survived so many generations with varying re-imaginings as Pac-Man. From the days of the classic quarter munching coin-op, Pac-Man has gone through many different shifts, not just in board layout but in dimensions as well. Bandai Namco has recently released the latest Pac-Man game called, coincidentally, Pac-Man Championship Edition 2, which is a sequel to, you guessed it, Pac-Man Championship Edition. This latest release is priced at $12.99 + tax and I'm sure will be pack full of bigger and ummm... better things.

The game has a few modes of play including Training (which I strongly insist to the point where it's almost a borderline demand), Score Attack, and Adventure mode. The training mode will get you used to the sheer speed and enemy physics that you will come across. This helps you get used to every aspect from bomb jumping, to ghost waking, to chain forming, and so on. Here you will also learn about "nudging" a ghost.

In almost all other variants of Pac-Man if you hit a ghost, you die. In Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 you can hit a ghost and they will bounce off of you and you can then move and avoid said ghost. Hit it again though and it will bounce you two away from each other; however, hit it a 3rd time in rapid succession and the ghost will fly up and off the board and land back down both enlarged and pissed off. Then it's a game of cat and mouse as you run like Neo from the Matrix to try and buy some time before the ghost calms down and you can "nudge" it again.


While you may think that 'ghost-bumping' seems out of place, you're right it is; however, when you are running short on time sometimes it is best to get a ghost mad at you so that as they fly off the board allowing you to slide underneath and then continue to eat pellets. Speaking of eating pellets, you don't need to be greedy. In previous games you had to eat all the pellets in order to move onto the next stage, but not here. At the bottom center of the screen you will see a handy meter, and as you eat more dots, the meter will rise until it gets to the end and spawns either a fruit, a power pellet, etc. Once eaten you will proceed to the next level and start the bar filling process all over again.

There's even a technique called a bomb jump where your Pac-Man can jump all the way back to the original starting point, which is coincidentally where the fruit or power-up spawns to end the level. While you have a limited number of these bomb jumps, you can always gain more, so it comes down to a fine balancing act. I usually found myself using the earlier stages to try and build up my bomb jump amount, doing so by eating all the dots on the level, and then the fruit, without dying.


One of the final aspects you'll train in are the boss battles. Here you will have a massive ghost that spawns behind you in your funky 2.5D future-retro hybrid stage and you have to clear so many stages within the time allotted in order to have Pac-Man break through and form many other 'Pac-Men' which you can use to take out the boss by breaking it down bit by bit. It's kind of gruesome if you think about it for a Pac-Man game, but it's also strangely satisfying. Now once you have the basics figured out and you can take to Score Attack.

Here you will start to notice a massive grid where your score on each level determines your letter grade, and obviously the higher the better. There are many techniques that you can use to make your score climb, one of them being quite simple; eating every pellet. Your multiplier grows and grows until you reach 500 points per pellet eaten. This is when your score literally starts to skyrocket. Another way to gain massive score bonuses is to create a chain of ghosts, and then at the end of the stage eat a power pellet and hunt down them down. Hit the first ghost and you’ll devour every following ghost in this trail. Combine this with the bonuses you get for lives retained, or bomb jumps not used, and your score will soar into the heavens.

Overall it’s simplistic and nothing too challenging so I like to call this mode 'advanced training' because you are graded after every performance, and Adventure mode has a requirement score needed in Score Attack. Once you hit Adventure mode though you'll be able to guide Pac-Man through six defined sets where each set consists of ten levels, and once you reach the final stage you have to face a boss battle.


All of this dot chomping goodness comes wrapped in a neon heavy dressing of transparency set in hyper speed. This increase in speed will have you looking far ahead and almost mapping a path in front of you so you can plan your route carefully. The mix of a hybrid future and retro is serenaded by an amped up techno mix that is rapidly becomes somewhat annoying despite its best efforts to help immerse you deeper into this new Pac-Man experience.

When it's all said and done, and the last pellet has been eaten, sadly I can't justify the $12.99 + tax for this game, even though it's not a bad game. Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 tries to be bigger and bolder then the first, but it just doesn't seem to provide the same type of quality execution. That's disappointing because I love how different companies interpret Pac-Man and I know this could have been done a whole lot better, especially since I enjoyed the first one so much.


Suggestions:
A cheaper price of admission would make this game more tempting for people to buy.


Overall: 7.6 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 6.5 / 10

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