When I think Pac-Man, I think old school, 2D mazes. Believe it or not, the little yellow chomper is nearly 35 years old, and between his creation and now there has been a plethora of media. One of the latest games is Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2, a 3D platformer based on the show of the same name. Much like the television show, it will appeal only to a much younger audience, leaving adults feeling unfulfilled.
For starters, I have never seen the show, so all these characters were more or less new to me. The antagonist is a character called Lord Betrayus, and his only purpose is to cause all sorts of mayhem. Things kick off in Pacopolis, where Betrayus has unleashed a giant enemy called the Grinder-Tron.
As you’d expect, Pac is the only one who can stop the lord of ghosts. That’s about the extent of the story really. Pac is led from one event to another, trying to figure out what Betrayus is up to. It never develops further than that and serves as an excuse to have Pac running through the five different worlds. Visually, they aren’t ground-breaking. They aren’t too bad either though, offering some nice colourful locales to explore, ranging from underwater to space.
There are around ten levels in each world, and they are linear in a sense. All the player has to do is get from point A to B. In between though, are a whole lot of enemies, power ups, and a ton of pac-pellets. These do nothing more than hinder or aid you in your progress.
Where the game finds some depth is in the search for the various level’s fruit. Much like Mario games have you searching for three stars in every nook and cranny, this game has three hidden fruit in each stage. Finding them all is surprisingly challenging, and I sometimes (to my surprise) reached the end of an area without a single cherry to show. WHERE ARE THEY HIDING THEM? The thing is, you don’t need ANY fruit to progress, none at all. They do nothing more than help you reach a new high score which determines if you get a bronze, silver, or gold medal.
Just about everything you do gives you some kind of number – eating ghosts, pellets, fruit… it all adds to that total you get after completing each level. It’s a nice nod to the origin of the character where surviving the various mazes meant a new top number as well as bragging rights if high enough. It just makes the game feel a little bit shallow at the end of the day, at least as a platformer and in a modern context.
There is no real sense of achievement or progression, and I felt zero need to go back and explore levels once more. My total playtime was just short of 8 hours. It’s not bad, but can be extended if you’re the kind of gamer who simply must OCD locate everything
Thankfully, the gameplay itself is rather enjoyable. Pac has access to several power-pellets which give the platforming some kind of life. For example, the magnetic pill allows him to stick to metal surfaces, resulting in some topsy-turvy, upside-down, and roundabout navigation. There’s also the freeze or fire pellet. Both give him new offensive capabilities, as well as some utility for getting around the level.
There are others too, but the most annoying power up by far is the pill which basically turns Pac into a giant round boulder. I cried a little each time I got it, as it meant having to navigate narrow platforms as that giant, awkward ball. SPOILER: It’s annoying as hell. This was the only part of the game which had me dying more than others. Fear not though, there were so many extra lives lying about that I was on the 99 cap for just about the entire game.
Between all this platforming is, of course, a bunch of enemies. As you’d imagine, Pac is up against all kinds of ghosts which come in several forms. For example, some wear armor and can’t be eaten until it is removed with a special ability. Others have a shield in front, and can only be defeated from behind. For me, the best part of the game was defeating these large mobs of enemies. They can be defeated in quick succession, and it’s surprisingly satisfying.
To break up the platforming, there are some on-rails shooter areas where the player gets to take control of Pac as well his friends, Cyli and Spira, as they drive their relevant vehicle. Again, there was no need to collect anything. It was just a matter of surviving from point A to B. It offers a decent distraction from all the running and jumping, at least for a few minutes
Lastly, the bugs. There weren’t that many, but there were some stages that seemed to have too much going on, resulting in my game slowing down to a crawl. While frustrating, it’s short-lived, so it shouldn’t pose too much of an irritation to those more patient gamers.
So, how is the game overall? It’s marketed at a much younger audience, and with that in mind, I think it is decent. It may be a bit challenging later on, but all levels are certainly doable even in the hands of a younger gamer. From an adult perspective though, the whole experience comes across as a tad shallow.
Last Updated: October 28, 2014