E3 2013: Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures Hands-On Preview – The Pac is Back
Written Tuesday, June 18, 2013 By Richard WalkerView author's profile
Did you know that Pac-Man was originally called Puck-Man due to his resemblance to a hockey puck, but some creative vandals decided to deface the word 'Puck' on the arcade cabinets? So while we'll never get to play F**k-Man (hey, there might be kids reading) ever again, we'll be able to indulge in all things Pac-Man related this year, as Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures the game and animated series comes to screens everywhere, alongside Pac-Man Museum and the revamped Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ on XBLA. It's the year of the Pac.
Given a presentation of this veritable banquet of yellow blobbiness by Producer Kumito Komori, we're first shown Pac-Man Museum, which collects practically every Pac-Man game released between the 1980s and 2010, and heralds the arrival of 2011's previously arcade-only Pac-Man Battle Royale for the first time ever on a home console. That's coming to XBLA in winter this year. Also coming to XBLA soon is Pac-Man CE DX+, which adds new skins inspired by classic Namco franchises like Dig Dug and Rally-X, as well as paid DLC skins such as one inspired by Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures. That one is 3D and looks lovely. DX+ will be available as a free upgrade for anyone who already owns Pac-Man CE DX. Nice.
Right, on with the show. Let's talk about Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures. First and foremost, it's an animated kids TV show with Executive Producer Avi Arad behind it. Airing earlier this month, the show has already been renewed for a second season and is set to spawn a whole array of Bandai merchandise for kids to badger their parents into buying. From Pac-Man action figures and all sorts of other gubbins, Ghostly Adventures is looking to rake in the cash from every conceivable angle, including the video game tie-in. It marks what Komori-san calls “an ambitious future” for the Pac-Man franchise.
Thing is, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures isn't really a Pac-Man game at all. It's something more akin to the old Pac-Man World titles in which you play as a 3D model of the animated series' talking Pac-Man, roaming around a 3D world, jumping between 3D platforms. It's a 3D platformer. Essentially, it's “for the kids”, while the aforementioned Pac-Man Museum and DX+ are for the die-hard retro Pac-fans. Chances are latter party won't be all that interested in the Ghostly Adventures. But “the kids” are almost definitely going to lap it up.
Bold, colourful, vibrant yet simplistic, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is perfectly designed to appeal to the younglings, with pills to collect, ghosts to eat and boxes to break filled with more pills. You can hit a button to stun ghosts turning them blue and enabling you to eat them much more easily, while you can pick up a chameleon hat that grants Pac-Man a stretchy, sticky tongue he can use to snatch up ghosts.
He can also use his lizard hat to swing from poles with his tongue, enabling him to gather momentum and make longer, higher jumps to platforms. This is ultra simple for seasoned gamers like ourselves, but for younger kids, we can imagine this kind of thing being a little bit of a stumbling block. Still, kids around 7 and over will be in their element. Apparently there'll be more power ups like this one that'll grant Pac-Man various abilities, although so far we've only seen the chameleon head.
Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is shaping up to be a pleasant return for the little yellow blob, with a new third-person platforming adventure that promises over 8 hours of gameplay. As well as the single-player story, the game will also include multiplayer for 1-4 players, which ought to add a little bit of extra replay value to the equation. It's about as close to a new Pac-Man World as you're likely to get anytime soon too, and if the TV show proves to be an ongoing success, it's likely that Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures could represent the start of something big. Kids are going to love it, older Pac-fans might consider giving it a look, but don't expect much in the way of a stiff challenge if you do. Wakka-wakka.
Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is slated for release in autumn 2013.