Review: Pac-Man Championship Edition DX (PS3)

Title: Pac-Man Championship Edition DX
Format: PlayStation Network Download
Release Date: November 23, 2010
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Namco Bandai
Price: $9.99

At its core, the game is still Pac-Man. You move around a maze eating dots while you’re chased by ghosts. You have power pellets you can eat which will turn the tables allowing you to attack the ghosts. We’ve all played the game hundreds of times, but not like this. In DX, you can play in Beginner, Normal and Expert difficulties and as you make your way around each maze, you’ll be eating the dots on the left and right half of the screen along with a fruit that appears on each. The longer you stay alive, the more points you’ll score as the dot’s value increases from 10 points all the way up to 50. Your speed will also increase allowing you to eat more as you race against the clock trying to rack up a high score.

Finish off one side of the maze and the area resets with new dots and sleeping ghosts. Those sleepers are also critical to higher scores in the game. As you pass them, they’re alerted to your presence, they wake up and start chasing you. The trick is to get as many ghosts to chase you as possible. In doing so, you’ll have a massive conga line on your tail and when you finally eat a power pellet, you can turn back on them and crank up the score.

The other new mechanics at work here are a bullet time effect that slows down the action and highlights your position on screen when you’re about to run into a ghost, this gives you more time to react before you get killed. You’ll really need to make the smart choice when this happens because you can either try to avoid them or set off a bomb (of which you have limited supplies). Setting off the bomb sends all ghosts in that conga line back to the home spot at the center of the maze but it also slows you down a little which in turn will affect your score chase. It’s these simple changes that can drastically alter your final score. It’s a brilliant take on a 30 year old classic that brings score chasing to the forefront.

The game has eight different mazes to unlock including one from the XBLA game. Game modes for each course include a 5 and 10 minute Score Attack, Time Trials and Ghost Combo. The Score Attacks are a simple race to get the most points you can within the allotted time. The Time Trials involve eating a certain number of fruits before a timer runs out. You can then go back and play against your best time trying to shave a few precious seconds off with each go around. The Ghost Combo sets you up with 10 minutes to essentially eat the longest conga line you can.

Every one of the game modes is tracked for online leaderboards where you can see how you stack up against everyone else or just among your friends. You’re ranked in each individual mode for each board and you’re also given a cumulative ranking across all modes. It really helps drive the replay value of the game as you push to get just a little higher each time you play. And speaking of replays, you can see a replay of the top 500 players in each mode to give you pointers on how they achieved them.

The other two modes to unlock are Darkness and Free Play. In Darkness, the entire screen is dark except for your immediate surroundings. You’ll need to remember the maze layouts as the game progresses and it becomes more difficult to elude the ghosts at high speeds. In Free Play, you’re given 10 minutes in any maze with unlimited lives and bombs. This is a good place to learn patterns and practice with little concern for screwing up.

The visuals are bright and colorful with eight different styles to choose from. One looks like a fair approximation of the original Pac-Man and ghosts with the maze walls a familiar neon blue. Others are reminiscent of other Pac-Man games over the years with one looking similar to Ms. Pac-Man, one having an almost 3D look while another is very lego-like. It’s everything you’d expect from Pac-Man with each element instantly recognizable while still having a fresh new feel to it.

Setting off a bomb sends the ghosts back to the center of the screen in a massive rainbow cascade while the bullet time effect will put a bright shimmering halo around you highlighting the imminent danger you’re facing. At higher speeds with all of this going on however, it can get hectic to the point that you can get lost in all the color but really that just makes for a more challenging game.

The audio department is strong as well with each iconic Pac-Man sound faithfully recreated to perfection. You’re also given the choice of five different background musical themes each with a very techno feel that fits the frenetic pace of the game beautifully.

Namco Bandai has already proven that they could tweak the original formula that made Pac-Man so successful and come away with a great game. They’ve built upon that excellent XBLA game from 2007 adding new elements and modes to make an outstanding update worthy of the 30th Anniversary celebration of an gaming icon.

Addictive doesn’t even begin to describe this game as you can easily spend hours and hours trying to shave a few precious seconds off that Time Trial score or tweak the pattern just a bit to get a few more points in Score Attack and climb up the leaderboards. With all the updates, tweaks and game modes along with the constant score chase afforded by the online leaderboards, at $9.99 Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is an absolute steal.


Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 26 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation.

Josh is currently the US PR & Marketing Manager for Fountain Digital Labs and has recused himself from any involvement on PS Nation arising from posting or editing any news or reviews stemming from FDL.

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