|Platform||360, PS3, Wii U|
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Pac-Man is easily one of the most revered and loved icons in the video game universe. Poppin’ pellets and swallowing ghosts like there was no tomorrow, his rise to fame in the early 80’s was quick, though merited. Since then, the iconic yellow circle (minus a pie slice–shaped mouth) has appeared in countless video game adaptations—though his biggest and best role shall always remain etched in arcade glory, in glorious 2D. Fast forward to today, and Namco Bandai is poised to release an all-new 3D Pac-Man platformer, titled Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, to coincide with the upcoming cartoon show of the same name.
Let me preface this by saying that I love Pac-Man. Or should I say, traditional Pac-Man. Championship Edition‘s fast-paced competitive online play robbed me of precious hours from my life. I can’t tell you how many times I tried to remain at the top of the high score list amongst my list of friends, so, when I first caught wind of Ghostly Adventures, I was thrilled.
I’m certainly not one to discount games simply because their target audience is aimed at a younger crowd. After pulling myself out of adult swim mentality, I played the 10-15 minute E3 demo with an open mind. All it took was a few minutes to realize that Ghostly Adventures is terrible. I get that it’s a throwback to old-school 3D platforming, but the painfully slow pace, ridiculously convoluted attack animations, and unimaginative level design are far too archaic to be considered even remotely fun. With a representative of Namco Bandai hovering over my every move, I trudged through the demo, hoping it would get better. It didn’t.
Ghostly Adventures attempts to save face by adding in various power suits that Pac-Man can acquire. The one example on display was a chameleon suit, which grants him the power of an elongated tongue. This ability proved useful when traversing some particularly tricky platforms, but when it came time for chomping ghosts, it failed miserably. That’s another thing: enemy ghosts relentlessly follow you throughout your playtime, oftentimes appearing out of thin air and removing that last bit of health you have left. At one point, I merely stepped out of a transitional elevator sequence and was immediately attacked with no warning. It felt terribly unfair at times. I managed to get through the demo, begrudgingly, though when all was said and done, I wished Pac-Man would’ve remained in a 2D plane, forever chompin’ Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde—not trying to be something he isn’t.