Namco bring their Xbox Live gem to the AppStore. With the original Pac-Man not faring to well on iPhone and iPod Touch, and Pac-Man Remix offering a good, but not great, experience for fans, it lies with Pac Man Championship Edition (PMCE) to carry the torch and do the original arcade game full justice.
What’s interesting is that underneath the Geometry Wars inspired graphical makeover, PMCE is actually pretty stripped back in gameplay terms. Unlike PMRemix before it, PMCE has none of the gimmicks of a 3D play field, with lifts, other obstacles and end of level bosses, instead it takes the core gameplay of the original and expands it in more subtle, but far more rewarding ways.
As expected, your main goal is to collect the pellets for points, avoid the ghosts and – when possible – get your own back on them with a power pill. But unlike the original game where you must clear the area of pills to move onto the next, and more challenging level, instead you have 5 minutes to rack up the most points. Beat the high score and you can advance. Each maze has a different layout, and usually begin with a small selection of pellets on one side. once you munch through those a new set of pellets will appear in various formations on the other side, as well as a piece of fruit…. and so on and so forth until you either run out of time or lose all you lives to those pesky ghosts! Simply by staying alive and eating as many pellets as you can won’t guarantee you success in beating the score. You’ll need a small amount of strategy to eek out more and more points by nabbing those fruit as often as possible, as well as getting score multipliers by eating ghosts consecutively.
You’ll get five levels in this Championship mode, as well as 20 levels in mission mode. Mission mode sets you various tasks to complete, such as eat 16 fruit, rack up 16,000 points or play with an alternative control scheme. For this you pay a respectable $2.99, but should you wish to play more, you’ll need to purchase the add pack. For an extra $3.99 you can get 10 more championship levels, a whopping 100 more missions, as well as unlock 15 levels of a new challenge mode.
One of the major gripes with the previous Pac-Man offerings were the controls, whether through touch, tilt or swipe they just didn’t cut it. Well I’m not sure what they have done, but NAMCO have finally cracked it with a very well implemented thumb or finger swipe mode. This includes a visual of a joystick, which will stay in the position of the chosen direction of your swipe until you make another. This is great in that it allows you to queue up the next move just before Pac needs to turn. It requires a tiny amount of forward thinking on the players part but its better than trying to perform the direction change at the point of the turn and miss it. Apart from when necessary in the mission modes I recommend ignoring the other control options which are the usual selection of duds.
As mentioned earlier, PMCE looks great to, featuring a neon retro look along the lines of geometry wars, it harks back to the original game with Pac as his usual 2D self along with his love them/hate them Ghostly buddies. The mazes light up and pulse when Pac passes by, as well as glowing when new pellets appear… all this looks great and plays out to a great dance style sound track complete with the original sound effects.
It’s close but no cigar when compared to the 5 star Space Invaders Infinity Gene. PMCE looks, sounds and plays fantastically… but, had it included online leader-boards and multiplayer, it could have been contender for best Arcade game on the AppStore. Still, this is a must buy… so go get it. Now!
Pac-Man Championship Edition is currently on sale for $0.99