Pac-Man Championship Edition Review
When I first heard that Pac-Man Championship Edition (CE) was “Pac-Man with new mazes” it was hard to stifle a yawn. Isn’t that what Ms. Pac-Man was all about? Seriously, how many different Pac-Man games does Xbox Live Arcade really need? After playing the game I found that the initial press releases on Pac-Man CE were selling it short because it’s a lot more than just “Pac-Man with new mazes”.
There are a number of twists on the gameplay that make this a faster-paced, more exciting version of the pellet-chomping game of pattern memorization. The first is the addition of a countdown timer. Every mode in the game is limited to either five or ten minutes in length. This changes the goal of the game from simply surviving as long as you can to scoring as many points as possible before the timer runs out (or you run out of lives). The next change is that the entire maze is not filled with pellets. Each game starts with a pattern of pellets on the left side of the maze that’s mirrored on the right. Once you clear all of the pellets from one side of the maze it causes a bonus fruit to appear on the other. After you eat the fruit, the next pattern of pellets appears back on the side that you’ve cleared. Mazes are never fully cleared in Pac-Man CE; you just clear one group of pellets after another in the same maze until the timer runs out.
The same four ghosts appear in the Championship Edition that appeared in the original game and it’s still their job to catch you and knock you out of the game. Chomping a power pellet and turning on them has always yielded some nice points for your score, but this time they’re potentially worth a whole lot more. Power pellets can now be chained, meaning that the scores for eating the ghosts keep increasing as long as you keep chomping a power pellet before the previous one expires. This adds a bit of strategy to the game – do you run through all of the power pellets currently in the maze in order to chain together a nice scoring run or do you save one or two to help you make an escape in an emergency? Personally I like to go for the points but that has gotten me into trouble on more than one occasion.
The mazes themselves are indeed new to the Pac-Man series and feature several tunnels on the sides, tops, and bottoms. Gone is the bright, pixilated look of the mazes of old, replaced by vibrant and pulsating neon mazes backed by some cool techno tracks inspired the original game’s familiar theme music. It’s hard not to feel your heart rate start to pick-up its beat with the up-tempo music and the pressure of the ticking clock.
Once your game ends you’re given a breakdown of your scoring over time which is a pretty cool feature usually found only in strategy games. It would be far cooler if the game saved some of these charts, though, so you could track your skills over time. In fact, it would be nice if it saved more than just your highest score for each mode. At least your best score is automatically uploaded to the game’s leaderboards so you can see how your best stacks up against the best scores of other gamers. There are no multiplayer modes, although a mode in which two players competed for the limited pellets in the same maze would have been a lot of fun.
Pac-Man purists may balk at this new edition of the game, but CE can be a lot of fun for anyone who enjoys fast-paced arcade action now and again. If that sounds like you, then I recommend that you give the game a try.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 85%. Pac-Man (Championship Edition) fever, catch it.