This truly could be the year of the Pac-man. No I haven’t gone mad, or taking a trip back in time to 1980. Pac is hoping to jump out of the shadows of retrodom and delight a whole new generation of gamers as well take a few of his more midlife fans along for a totally new ride.
The breaking of a Guiness world record late last year signalled the start of Pac-mans latest adventures and since then we have seen a new animated TV show, a videogame tie-in launched and a sequel announced as already in production but what about his origins?
Well this is the area that Bandai Namco are addressing with Pac-Man Museum. This is simply a greatest hits collection of Pac-mans adventures. No fancy “definitive edition” or “HD Button to be found here. Just the simple gameplay, graphics and sounds of many of our childhoods and to be honest that is all that is needed to either take a stroll down memory lane or brush up on your gaming history knowledge.
This isn’t to say that this collection has just been cobbled together to cash in on the success of the TV show. Oh no. The love and attention giving to ole’ yellow is plain to see the moment you load up museum and look at the main menu, of all things.
Pick any game and the screen automatically adjusts the ratio to what suits that titles resolution he best – there is no pixilation to be found here. Well no more than you would find if you were in the eighties, which let’s be honest compared today is kinda a lot as it is. The titles that cannot “fill” the screen however are given a subtle border made from artwork of that title.
As I said previously, the games themselves are untouched from their original release state and those that originally played them will remember them fondly. It says a lot about the gameplay of games that are almost 35 years old but still force me to sink over 10 hours into them – hell there are games released not 12 months ago that can’t claim that.
This is summed up the most by the Original Pac-Man obviously. Perhaps it’s the basic goal of “this is the highest score – BEAT IT!” that makes it so appealing (more on this later). That rush of taking down the high scores, the frustration of just missing that goal or the satisfaction of gobbling that Power Pill just in the nick of time all adds to the experience and will remind most of us of pumping 10p after 10p in the slots at a seaside arcade as you try and rise up to the challenge.
Another title include is Pac-Land and one I fondly remember from said childhood, at said arcades. Looking back now it just about survives the Rose Tinted test and is very little more than a basic side scroller run and jump affair – imagine an endless runner but where you have total control of the runner. On its own it can grow a little tiresome but as part of this collection it never really outstays its welcome and is a good palate cleanser.
Bandai have also included some lesser known titles such as Pac Attack which can really only be summed up as Pac-Man meets Tetris as you join falling blocks together and use little mini pac-man logos to eat rows of ghosts.
Obviously in arcades, you only needed local leaderboards to prove you were the best Pac player in town. Pac-Man Museum taps into the wonderful, and challenging, world of online leaderboards and as many games of the last generation can attest to; nothing gets a player coming back for more than pounding your friends’ best score to dust. Further to this, Bandai have also added something for the OCDers among us in the Stamp Book.
Filled with challenges that require different skills levels these challenges should keep even the most ardent Pac-man follower busy and entertained. There are also rewards for completing them which all link into the Ghostly Adventures TV and Video Game. Cash cow milking? A little bit and it’s a good idea for marketing but personally I would have liked some making of videos or vintage artwork to have been included.
Overall, the collection is good value for money and shows the best aspects of Pac-Man – especially when they are in their original format. Seeing the evolution of one of gamings royalty from a pill chomping sprite to a neon world inhabiting 3d orb is one that all gamers should experience at least once whether this be for a trip down memory lane or to check out the history of that new cartoon character you like.
MLG Rating: 7/10 Format: PC / Xbox 360 / PlayStation 3 Release Date: 26th February 2014
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Pac-Man Museum for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of 5 days on a Low End PC. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.