Platforms: Xbox Live Arcade (360), PlayStation Network (PS3), Steam, Microsoft Windows
Developer: Mine Loader Software Co., Ltd.
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is a follow-up to 2007’s Pac-Man Championship Edition, featuring many upgrades from its predecessor. In the timeline of Pac-Man, this game comes after the retirement of Tōru Iwatani, who created the original Pac-Man arcade game, as well as the original Championship Edition. Surprisingly, developer Mine Loader Software outdid Iwatani, and made a new installment to the series that not only lives up to the reputation and title of Pac-Man, but breathes life back into the old character.
+ Pac-Man is addicting again! Never did I think I’d spend this much time playing a Pac-Man game. I have never been a huge Pac-Man fanatic (even though I recognize the impact that the original arcade cabinets had), but this game has had me hooked from the first time I played.
+ The level design is generally top-notch. There are a few exceptions to the rule, which I will talk about later in this review, but for the most part, I can’t complain.
+ There is plenty of content for an arcade-style game like this. You get time trials, score attacks (both 5- and 10-minute lengths), and a ghost combo mode for each map, with one or two exceptions. The devs also included multiple skins and visual styles, so if you don’t like what the game looks like by default, you can change it around.
+ The gameplay gets fast-paced. Really fast-paced. Most of the challenge is brought by the game speeding up, which is triggered by getting more points or by the clock naturally counting down, and it’s really fun when things start getting closer to speed 50.
+ To make sure that all of the speed of the game stays fluid and smooth, the frame rate is steady. You won’t find many (if any) frame rate drops while playing.
+ Thankfully, the game is a little forgiving and does not lock itself at a higher game speed. When you use a bomb to shake off the ghosts, or if you get hit by a ghost and die, the game speed will drop a bit to ease the pressure.
+ The difficulty of DX also comes from the stray ghosts that pop up in the center room. They act separately from the giant line that follows you, simply wandering around the maze until they see you at point-blank range (at which point they join the line of ghosts behind you). They aren’t super easy to avoid all the time, and they will cost you a bomb or a life at times.
+ When a ghost is within killing range, the game will slow down for a second to let you react. This is great because it keeps the game from being ridiculously hard, although you still have to make a quick decision on how to survive the situation, so there is some challenge retained.
+ Sound design stays true to the arcade roots, but also adds in modern sounds a well-done soundtrack of BGM to make for great audio during gameplay.
+ Everything is just so satisfying. A mix of the fun gameplay, the sound, and the scores racking up makes every last second a satisfying experience.
– It’s a bit too easy to survive. As it is, you typically have enough bombs to only lose one or two lives, and if you lose a life, you usually still have 5-10 more. Then, once you respawn, your bombs replenish. If you can keep up with the speed increases at all, you can probably survive every level without too much trouble.
– As I said earlier, there are a few levels that can’t quite keep up with the rest of the mazes, specifically Junction and Championship I. Pac-Man C.E. DX does, to a certain extent, rely on how good the level design is, and thankfully, you don’t have to worry about that affecting the game most of the time because the level design is great. But when you hop into a maze that feels too cluttered or broken up for its own good, it kills a good chunk of the enjoyment.
As you can probably tell just by looking at the disproportionate amount of pros and cons, I love this game. This is easily the most fun I’ve ever had with Pac-Man. You enjoy this game as much as you enjoy the levels, and it’s hard to not have fun on most of them. The changes to the old Pac-Man formula are very welcome, and the amount of content mixed with the replay value will keep you coming back for a very long time. It’s fast, it’s satisfying, it’s addictive, and it’s an incredibly successful upgrade to the Pac-Man formula. If you haven’t picked this one up, be sure to get it.