The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Pac-Man hit arcades back in 1980, which means there’s a good chance that he’s older than you. He’s starred in numerous games, and those games have been bundled together in a variety of collections. Rather than toss his titles in a larger library, Namco Bandai is giving the little yellow fellow the chance to host his own downloadable collection, Pac-Man Museum.
The biggest draw to the collection is Pac-Man Battle Royale, an arcade game that’s hitting living rooms for the first time. Created for Pac-Man’s 30th anniversary back in 2011, the game allows up to four players to face off as rival Pac-Men in matches that are structured closely to Pac-Man Championship Edition’s. It’s fun for a few rounds, but there’s not a lot to it once you get over the novelty of seeing a gigantic Pac-Man greedily bearing down on one of his smaller counterparts. The lack of online play or the ability to use multiple bots in single-player keeps it from being much more than a quick diversion when you have three friends over.
Beyond that, you’ve got the arcade original and a parade of others, including oddities like Super Pac-Man and Pac & Pal, the side-scrolling Pac-Land, and a port of the console puzzle game Pac-Attack. All told, there are nine games in the collection – not a particularly bad deal, but it really depends on your enthusiasm for all things Pac-Man. I never thought much of the bland, isometric Pac-Mania, and playing it again here didn’t change my opinion. I did get a kick out of Pac-Man Arrangement, which retains enough of the classic game to remain familiar while steadily adding features like warp pads, elevators, and boss battles.
The overall presentation is cute, with a virtual Pac Room that you can deck out with unlockable items, and a sticker album that you fill up by completing challenges. Namco missed a critical opportunity, however, in putting all the games into a greater context. Why do any of these games still matter? What did each one add to the character’s legacy? What year did they come out? Where’s Baby Pac-Man? If you’re hoping to get any sense of history from the collection, you’re out of luck. This is less of a museum than a self-guided tour. That’s fine, but after seeing so many of these titles packaged together in various collections over the years, I was expecting more.
Email the author Jeff Cork, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.