Occasionally here at Player2.net.au, we will play something that deserves your attention but probably doesn’t need a full review written for it. Be it DLC for the latest AAA title, a little indie game or even an Android/iOS title. We play these titles for a blockbusting amount of time (2 – 5 hours) and report back to you the reader on what we found. So grab your popcorn and settle in for the latest episode of Blockbuster Gaming.
Blockbuster Gaming – Pac-man: Championship Edition 2
PC, PS4, Xbox One
Frantic and frenetic. These are two of the best words you can use to describe the experience that is Pac-man: Championship Edition 2. The Pac-man franchise, as many will know, dates back over thirty years – in fact the phenomenon kicked off in 1980 – and there have been countless sequels, compilations, remixes, spin-offs and ports. The 2007 release of Pac-man: Championship Edition and more specifically the enhanced version (Championship Edition DX in 2010) have been universally praised for modernising the Pac-man formula and opening the eyes of a new generation to the pixel perfect gameplay that the original introduced. This new release attempts to pick up where the original left off and then take it well beyond.
When attempting to revitalise a game that is known to and adored by countless millions, it’s important to make improvements to re-engage the audience, but not so many that the game gets muddied or becomes unrecognisable. Pac-man: Championship Edition 2, when compared the DX re-release, adds a significant amount of new content, new things to juggle and new skills to master. One of the new skills I appreciated the most was the ability to jump. They don’t grow on trees, but as time progresses you can accumulate consumable jumps, which launch you back to the beginning of a level, and are hugely beneficial when you’re in a tight spot, needing a bailout. There’ve also been some hectic chases included where you have a limited window to chase down numerous ghost snakes, and as you do this you get rewarded with a very cinematic and very satisfying chain devouring. For every smart inclusion such as this however, there are some not so wise inclusions that have been made.
One of the core tenants of Pac-man franchise is the simple idea that if a ghost touches you, then it’s instant death. Championship Edition 2 flips this ingrained idea on its head by allowing the player to touch the ghost once without aggravating them; do it again within a few seconds and it’ll come speeding after you. In some levels, there are also miniature ghosts which if you coast past them will boost the size of the aforementioned ghost chains, however for the most part just serve as roadblocks which I certainly felt stifled my ability to creatively dig my way out of trouble. We’ll also be better off if I just don’t speak to you about the boss encounters – they serve little purpose, are both tedious and frustrating and the less time you spend in them the better.
Pac-man: Championship Edition 2 is at its best when you’ve got an open playground ahead of you, and you need to slice your way through the map to elude ghosts and collect power pellets. While the game does through a few unnecessary obstacles in your way, it cannot be understated how much fun the game is to play in spite of these. There are some times where I was on a bit of a tear and found myself in a trance-like state.
As simplistic as the game may be in premise, in terms of its visual and sound design, Championship Edition 2 is anything but simple. The excellent merger of pulsing lights and fast paced music took me back to my (admittedly infrequent) nightclub days and energised me as I attempted to hit corners at ridiculous speeds, hurtle around them and motor towards my next target. There are a number of different visual styles you can select from if you wish, each of them really popping off the screen, despite them all looking quite similar.
The original Championship Edition gave us all a different sense to look at the Pac-man franchise through, one that resulted in the re-energising of the franchise for many a lapsed player. Championship Edition 2 doesn’t raise the bar any further than the original did, and isn’t quite of the same class, but it does include a host of new additions (both good and bad) that make for an interesting, fun, alternate take on the traditional Pac-man experience. It’s a perfect bite-sized game for anyone looking for some quick-fire arcade action, and one that is well worth picking up.