Pac-Man Championship Edition DX
Namco Bandai lacks the gift for economy. Yesteryear it was Pac-Man, then Pac-Man Championship Edition, now it feels like it’s just slamming random letters on the end. It’s a shame really that such titling often leaves gamers with the impression that not much has changed and that there’s no reason to blow another 800 MSP on this update, primarily because that assumption is completely at odds with the truth: Pac-Man CE DX is completely fresh.
There’s far greater focus on speed in this edition. Centre-bottom of the screen is a counter which goes from one to fifty, denoting the speed of the on-screen action. At its lower settings, Pac-Man CE DX is a thinking-man’s game. You’ll find yourself planning routes way ahead of time to outfox the quite frankly staggering number of ghosts – more on that in a sec. Gobbling up pills, ghosts and various bonuses will increase the speed of your movement as well as that of your enemies.
Anything over 40 and Pac-Man CE DX becomes a completely different game. No longer will you strategise ahead of time, instead you’ll twitch your thumb across the stick in a quickfire gameplay version of the educated guess.
As already mentioned the number of ghosts has been turned up just slightly. It’s quite possible to have over 100 of the prats on the screen at any one time. Luckily, rather than constantly attempting to head you off at the pass, their behaviour has also changed. Ghosts are most often found sleeping somewhere on the map. As you pass by they wake up and begin following you. With your attention focused on tucking the pills away it’s quite possible to build up a train of 50 or so.
Which is where the crux really lies. The magic of Pac-Man has always been about those moments where you gobble that power pill and you go from chasee to chaser. Knowing that this is one of the primary sources of fun, Namco Bandai’s decision to add the ghost train makes perfect sense. Collecting a power pill can result in massive ghost-gobbling combos, which are hugely satisfying.
Because the train can become quite insanely long from time to time, on occasion when doubling back on yourself through the tight maps, you’ll come across them as an impenetrable wall. To counter this effect, Namco Bandai has added bombs. These are accumulated through collection. Hitting the left trigger will send all of the ghosts back to their central holding cell for a very brief period.
The game then is a balance of skill, speed, twitch gaming, score-attack, survival and strategy, and above and beyond any previous outing for the yellow pie-chart lookalike, it is perhaps the most addictive single product since the produce of Pablo Escobar’s famous sherbet factory.
Those of you whose eyes are still smarting from Championship Edition’s famous wobbly lines of brain-death that occupied the outer reaches of the screen during gameplay will be happy to note that not only do they not appear to have made a return, but now players are offered a choice in the game’s overall look. You could call them ‘skins’ we suppose, but you will be free to play the game on maps looking like anything from Lego to a discarded set from Space 1999. Bloody marvellous.