Tag Archives: pac-man

Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 review

In a time where so many gaming mascots are a distant memory, you have to give Namco some credit for keeping Pac-Man alive; whether it be through recent Nintendo appearances in Mario Kart and Smash Brothers, or through it’s Ghostly Adventures TV show and toy line. My fondest memories of Pac-Man take three forms; Pac-Land in the arcade, Pac-Mania on my Amiga, and the Pac-Man board game I got for Christmas in the 80s.

Aside from a quick lunch-break flirtation with Google’s offering in 2010, having not actually played a proper Pac-Man game since 2007’s Championship Edition (which still brings back such sweet, sweet Xbox Live Arcade memories), I’d wondered if it still held any place in my interest. There’s a nice little place at the back of my mind where Pac-Man could easily sit along with Kid Chameleon, Cool Spot, and the voice of the dude that just keeps saying, ‘RAD MOBILE’. On reflection, Pac-Man’s not ready for that yet.

However, on first loading the game, I wasn’t really sure if I could be bothered with Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 (PMCE2). The ‘classic’ chime that plays EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. that you press the A button in the menus is instantly the most annoying thing you’ve ever heard, and then there’s a lengthy training mode that presents the game as a bit of a convoluted mess. I should also mention that I first started playing this at night when everyone else was in bed, and the excessive vibration from the controller when consuming ‘ghost trains’ (more on those later), made me stop out of sheer worry of embarrassment. Make of that what you will…

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But then, you start playing the proper game (maybe at a more sociable hour), and it’s an absolute delight. At first glance, there seems like there’s a lot of variety in the game modes, but essentially they’re just slight variations on the classic game (aside from the slightly baffling ‘Jump Mode’), available in beginner, standard and extreme variants. What the game does so well, though, is tweak little parts of the core gameplay, slowly making your 5-minute-timed runs more and more manic as you progress through the screens.

And my favourite thing about PMCE2 is that it’s one of those games that puts you in ‘the zone’. Similar to something like Geometry Wars or Tetris for me, shortly after you start a new run, you’ll just stop thinking, to a certain extent, and your hands will just subconsciously make the most incredible ghost-avoiding, fruit eating moves. There were a few times when I was playing that I just amazed myself with what I’d just been able to pull-off (maybe the wrong choice of words taking an earlier paragraph into account).

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In certain games modes, things can get absolutely frantic as you reach the pinnacle of your score run, knowing that just a few extra seconds could make all the difference in earning a different score grade (which run from E-A, and then the all-important ’S’). How scoring works isn’t really going to be any great surprise; you get points for maintaining a steady diet of pellets and fruit, and power pellets make our returning ghost antagonists, Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde also edible. If you want the big points, though, you’ll need to prepare a ‘ghost train’.

Ghost trains can be made by waking up the sleeping, translucent green ghosts placed around the screen. On awakening them, they’ll join onto the trail of the nearest ghost, creating a kind of snake-like effect. Whilst this makes it easier for you to collide with the head ghost, and in turn make it angry (three collisions, and it will become speedier due to being so livid with you), it also opens up the opportunity for massive scoring when you consume the power pill; just be prepared for that monster vibration.

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Once your game is finished, you’ll get a review screen, where your score is mapped out over a two-axis graph, showing you at what points during the screens you peaked; it’s reasonably interesting, I suppose? Much more of note is seeing where you rank globally, and between your friends. Now, none of my Xbox Live friends had the game at the time of writing, so it was me versus the world. So, when I made my first A grade, I was positively euphoric, and then even more so when I saw that it put me at 173rd in the rankings. Did I have a new career option as a professional Pac-Man player? Just think of all the plaudits, the riches, the fast cars and loose women…..oh, ok, it’s only 173rd, but still, it’s something to tell the kids next time they call me something rude like, ‘Fat Daddy’ (true insult story).

If any of my friends were to buy this, and they totally should, by the way, then I’d get completely addicted to the high score chase; it’d be like Geometry Wars and Trials all over again; no mercy.

Thanks to Bandai Namco Entertainment & Xbox for supporting TiX.

Bandai Namco announce four gaming classics on Xbox One

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Bandai Namco Entertainment Europe have been busy recently. They’ve been announcing their release schedule for 2016.

They’ve revealed that coming to Xbox One in Spring next year are four classic titles from the annuls of gaming history.

Galaga, PAC-MAN, Ms. PAC-MAN and Dig-Dug will be winging their way as digital downloads from early next year, which is great news.

It’s finally a chance to introduce the younger generation to these classics, although they’ll probably complain that the graphics are so basic.

There’s no detail on the exact release date or price as yet.

Author Chris Brookmyre takes players inside Bedlam

We recently reviewed genre-hoping FPS Bedlam and was blown away by the unique storytelling tied so intimately into the experience. It’s an odd and clever game that doesn’t always tap into the fun we so often associate with games but instead purposely builds on frustration and unfairness in order to share its story. It’s terrific and awful at the same time, and a nightmare to try and describe, but fortunately Chris Brookmyre, author of both the Bedlam book and the accompanying game, has a new behind-the-scenes video where he takes viewers on a short tour through some of the worlds seen in Bedlam, explaining his thought processes and giving extra details on the creation of the game.

If the video wasn’t enough to tempt you into playing, why not give our review a read.

Bedlam: The Game review

Bedlam The Game is a peculiar title, one where its missteps as a game are more forgivable because many of them are intentional, and one where the overall story is more important than the minute to minute experience. As such it’s a difficult game to recommend to the majority but a superb representation of the book it’s based on, whether it’s the kind of experience for you or not depends entirely on what you want from playing a game, which is a fascinating question in its own right.

Indeed Bedlam: The Game is based on Bedlam the book, written by Christopher Brookmyre, a novel full of razor-sharp commentary on videogame culture and design wrapped in a fascinating story about AI and player immersion. As a companion to the book it’s brilliant, capturing the same dark, humorous tone and immersing you in a believable facsimile of retro games experienced through the mechanics of a first-person shooter.

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Playing as experienced gamer and programmer, Heather Quinn, you initially find yourself in a 90s shooter reminiscent of Quake II. Before long you’re hopping between game-worlds and experiencing parodies of Medal of Honor, Pac-Man, Halo and generic RPGs, all through the perspective and gameplay of a first-person shooter, as you try to find out why you’re stuck in this digital world and how you can escape. It’s a terrific tale told wonderfully through excellent voice acting and a thematically accurate script, but the mechanics themselves are dire.

Weapons are inaccurate and lack impact, the AI is aggressive but utterly stupid, the textures are muddy and lack detail, music and sound effects are indelicately implemented, checkpoints are infrequent and the frame rate regularly chugs when the enemy count increases. It’s a poor offering of game mechanics and production quality that reeks of amateurish and lazy design. But indeed that’s the point. Bedlam: The Game means to torture you with poor checkpoints, ugly aesthetics and predictable AI; what you’re experiencing isn’t the game itself but more the game within the game.

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It’s the moments between each game-world where you’re playing the real game, the rest is a purposely built arena for you to experience the retro design elements of the very game it’s parodying. Between the game-worlds are fractured platforming sections with images and email messages you can find that help fill in more of the story, meanwhile other characters contact you via audio chat to explain and drive the narrative forwards. The true object of the game is for you to exploit each game-world with the first-person mechanics you’re stuck with, bringing weapons from other game-worlds with you to carve out slight advantages and making liberal use of the save function in the menu screen to brute-force your way through the increasingly challenging enemy encounters.

Unfortunately this is not immediately evident, partly because the story would otherwise be ruined if all its tricks were revealed at once, so the experience can feel more torturous than is should for large parts of the game. This is less of a problem within the initial game-world; the fictional game of Starfire plays precisely how you remember the likes of Quake II playing, with a highly familiar sci-fi setting and the traditional slow projectiles, but once you jump over to the Medal of Honor parody, Death or Glory, the challenge jumps significantly and the nostalgic fun you were having is quickly replaced by frustration. This is intentional, of course, but you don’t really find that out until later, leaving the driving force that keeps you playing up to the narrative.

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Fortunately it’s a great story that’s excellently paced, and as frustrating as Bedlam: The Game can get it’s all part of the experience it means to immerse you in. That is accepted for the framerate issues, which can cause some unfair deaths, especially near the end of the game. There’s also a lack of a quick save button, which proves to be a crucial tool. It’s still a fairly quick process to jump into the pause menu and save but this reveals a PC bias that never translated to console.

Bedlam: The Game is a terrific story wrapped in an intentionally bad game, and as such it proves to be an absolutely brilliant companion to the book it’s based on. In fact, thanks to the perspective of a different character in the game it helps compliment the book superbly, but this does mean it’s not the most enjoyable game to play. The nostalgic moments in the odd game-world will strike a nice chord with fans of the original titles they’re based on, and the Pac-Man inspired level is very clever, but you’re unlikely to find much fun here. But perhaps we can play a game in order to experience emotions and situations that are something other than fun. Through play and interaction we can experience these things in a more personal way, and for that Bedlam: The Game should be applauded, and if you’re open to that idea then should absolutely try this title out.

Thanks to Xbox and RedBedlam for their support 

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PAC-MAN and The Ghostly Adventures Review

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PAC-MAN is one of the most iconic and oldest Video Game characters ever. First introduced as an arcade machine back in 1980, he has been a part of gaming on every platform and every generation ever since. From sweets to mugs to clothing to animated TV shows, PAC-MAN has evolved  over the decades and is instantly recognizable. In 2013, a new CGI based animation TV show was shown on the Disney Channel and was well received by its audience. It was no surprise that a video game based on that very TV show and sharing the same name ‘PAC-MAN and The Ghostly Adventures’ wold be developed and released, but does it have a place in the PAC-MAN legacy, and is it actually any good?

First released in the US in October 2013, the game if finally being released in the UK and Europe in 2014. Developed and published by NAMCO and Bandai Namco, PAC-MAN and The Ghostly Adventures is a 3D platform based video game which has the player taken the main title role of PAC-MAN from the TV show. The other characters from the TV show also appear with the same voice cast so if you are a fan of the TV show, or most likely looking to get this game for a younger fan of the show, then the game does a great job of recreating the same world for the player.

The story sees PAC-MAN and his friends trying to stop the forces of Betrayus, as he and his menacing ghosts having escaped from the Netherworld to invade PacWorld. The opening introduction to the game has PAC-MAN being told he must venture out into the city of Pacopolis in search of energy orbs to power up the globes needed to put an end to the danger of Betrayus and his army of invading ghosts. Now, I understand that this game is aimed for the much younger audience who would be fans of the TV show, but the dialogue and how its voice acted is so woeful that it really questions why they even bothered at all. A school is used as the home base of the game, which the other characters inhabit and can be interacted with but because of just how bad the dialogue is with repeated conversation pieces that really adds nothing more to the game experience other then to fans of the TV Show possibly to see them.

Once you do actually go on a mission then you see that there are six worlds that will need to be explored. The only way to unlock a world is to complete all the levels in the previous world. Levels are broken down and the first few can be played in any order but all must be completed before the remainder levels will unlock with the final level containing a boss battle. Level design is what you would expect from a 3D platformer game. You follow a set patch collecting orbs and eating the food from destroyed vending machines, which at no time do any of the other characters have a problem with you basically causing more damage to the city then the naughty ghosts you gobble up like candy, moving through check points to reach the end level goal and collecting the final piece of fruit.

The gameplay is fun even if very basic at first. The ghosts you come up against do not pose a challenge and you will find yourself easily dealing with them. Moving around the levels is straight forward with PAC-MAN having a double jump needed to move from platform to platform. The way the game mixes this up is in the use of Power Pellets. Power Pellets give PAC-MAN special powers which can change the combat of the game and also how you navigate the map. Ice PAC-MAN can freeze his enemies and water in order to create towers that can be used to get to higher points. Chameleon PAC-MAN has the ability to turn you invisible so you are undetected but has the special ability of a super tongue which can lash out and grab far away ghosts to be gobbled up or to swing between posts  to cross between gaps.

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The levels are very clever in making use of these Power Pellets to change the way in which you play. It does break up the samey jumping from platform to platform rather nicely and is fun to use different abilities to take out the pesky little ghosts. For the first world, these powers blend in quite nicely as the requirements of their use for exploring the levels are very simple but I found once I moved on to the second world “Ruins” that the use of those powers and some very sluggish controls became a frustrating hindrance at times which spoiled the game play. Turning into a massive rock boulder and rolling around can be great fun, but when the level requires you to use the Dash attack, which sprints you forward at speed, against an enemy but then has you facing the hazard of falling off a platform to your death as you have no real way to stop yourself, and the gameplay becomes clumsy and ugly.

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The game also has multiplayer in the form of up to four player games which uses the traditional PAC-MAN maze gameplay but this time has you and the other players taken on the roles of the ghosts vs an AI controlled PAC-MAN. Now on paper this looks like a great nod to the original PAC-MAN games and a great juxtaposition as you play as the ghosts being hunted down by PAC-MAN. In reality it sadly is not that fun, well not for me anyway. I found that at times you would find yourself about to corner PAC-MAN and take him out using the Ghostly version of his Power Pellet only for him to suddenly get one, chomp down and gobble you up and you find yourself as a floating pair of eyes returning to the centre of the maze to do it all again. I would say for a younger audience this game mode might be more fun, but for me it did not quite live up to expectations.

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Bearing in mind the very young audience this game is aimed at, PAC-MAN and The Ghostly Adventures is a typical TV/Film tie in game. It does just enough to get you in the mind frame of the source material and it has some nice gameplay moments but overall it fails to do anything really special or enough to stand out from the pack. The levels are well designed but the clumsy controls can lead to some very frustrating times as you find your button presses fail to deliver then they need to. There are much finer examples of how to do a 3D platformer game out there but this is far from the worst. It is just ok at what it does. It will appeal to younger fans of the show but does not really make the effort to do anymore then that. It feels like it should have been more special but sadly it sticks to doing what was required and leaves it there.

PAC-MAN would gobble this up and find himself not feeling the need to go back for seconds. Thanks to XBOX for providing thisisxbox with this game for review.

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PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures Out Now

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NAMCO BANDAI has announced that PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures is out now at retail in the UK for the Xbox 360 (and other platforms). The game is based on the original storyline from the hit animated series aired on Disney XD, produced by Avi Arad, the renowned Hollywood producer and founder of Marvel Studios. In PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures our favorite yellow chomping machine with an insatiable appetite becomes the unlikely hero destined to save PacWorld from the evil plots of Betrayus and his Netherworld ghosts!

The modern makeover of NAMCO BANDAI Games’ beloved PAC-MAN property immerses players in a wacky world of new adventures while still harkening to classic PAC-MAN gameplay elements such as chomping ghosts. Not only will Pac still be devouring scared blue ghosts in PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures, he will also have to face various types of Netherworld ghosts that will prove to be a challenge for the yellow youngster. In the fight for freedom and the future of PacWorld, Pac will need to rely on an extensive menu of Power Berries that bestow Pac with unique power-ups that allow him to either burn or freeze ghosts, bounce around like a rubber ball, barrel through levels as a spinning top or even mow down ghosts as a giant granite ball. Each power up changes the way players can attack or move across various terrains, bringing new and exciting gameplay challenges for players to master.

PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures twists the rules of PAC-MAN by letting gamers take on the role of the four mischievous ghosts—Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde—in an all-new exciting multiplayer mode. The re-imagined maze mode allows gamers and up to three of their friends to play competitively to see who can catch PAC-MAN first as the elusive yellow PacWorlder darts around intricate mazes. PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures will also contain unlockable classic 2D arcade-style mini games featuring new Pac vehicles such as the Cherry Copter and Pineapple Tank.

PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures is now available in the UK on Xbox 360, look out for our review soon!

PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures Fall 2013

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Namco Bandai has announced… drumroll… a new PAC-MAN game, but not quite as you know it. Newly announced PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures will follow the storyline and characters from the animated PAC-MAN series created and produced by Avi Arad, acclaimed director and founder of Marvel Studios.

The animated TV series, based on classic PAC-MAN property, will begin airing on Disney XD this summer. The game revolves around the vibrant universe of Pac-World, where Pacworlders lived in peace until the mischievous Netherworld ghosts, led by their wicked leader Betrayus, escaped from their ghoulish domain to forcibly take control of Pac-World. Pac-World’s only hope lies in the last surviving yellow Pacworlder, our hero with a voracious appetite.

Not only will PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures feature an entirely revamped PAC-MAN universe, but it will also hearken back to PAC-MAN origins with classic elements such as Ghost encounters. The Ghost-chomping mechanics return from the original PAC-MAN but with exciting powered up variations in PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures, creating an innovative yet familiar gameplay experience.

PAC-MAN and the Ghostly Adventures will be coming to Europe and Australasia for the Xbox 360 this Fall.