The original video gaming mascot is back in his best game since the 1980s. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ takes Pac back to his roots with single screen arcade levels. The controls are simple, up, left, down and right to make Pac-Man move through different labyrinths, eating pellets and dodging ghosts. When Pac-Man eats a power pellet, the hunters become the hunted and Pac-Man will eat the ghosts to death! Think about that logic!
But that’s how the classic game played, and while there isn’t much difference between then and now, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ has different ‘challenges’ that you select and play. Mostly time trials that have you eating enough fruit to complete the objective after eating enough pellets to make the fruit appear. You’ll also have score attacks that put you in a level for 5 or 10 minutes to get the highest score you can. There is even a ghost chain mode that will have you seeing how many ghosts you can eat before a power pellet wears off. Each challenge needs to be unlocked and for the most part they’re all easy, but a lot of quick fun.
The game now has ‘inactive’ ghosts that stand in gaps. They don’t move, they’re just there, until Pac-Man sets them off, but they don’t just chase him. Instead they wait for another ghost to float by and then join a ghost chain. These chains get longer and longer as a sort of centipede. Its visually impressive and adds a new dynamic of just having a long string of enemies to avoid. When you get a power pellet, it feels satisfying to eat fifty ghosts. These ghosts can also have pellets and power pellets in them, so to advance through the game, you need to eat the ghosts. It is a nice twist.
That’s not the only twist, you don’t clear an entire level like the original Pac-Man. The game makes lines of pellets after you eat each fruit. It might seem easy to just follow the lines, but the challenge comes from Pac-Man moving so fast and ghosts being everywhere. The maps will even get altered to block out paths or make new paths. With every complete line you eat, a piece of fruit will appear along with the next line and more ‘inactive’ ghosts. So it feels like there is always something changing and happening. Even the level changes colors.
Each of the game’s 10 or so unlockable levels are a vibrant array of neon colors, but before you start each challenge, you can change each level’s look. From old school pixelated Pac-Man to new school and even the lego block look from previous games. You can change the sprites too. Its a nice dynamic that can keep the game looking fresh. There is also plenty of DLC to buy that changes sprites and level graphics. The background music sounds great and the fast paced beat matches the arcade action.
There is even a new gameplay mechanic of ghost clearing bombs. When you use a bomb it sends all active ghosts to their penalty box in the middle of the screen. These bombs are helpful when you get pinched by two ghosts, but to to some people bombs might feel like cheating even if they decrease your scoring rate temporarily.
The game is fast paced. Eating ghosts will make the game go faster. Higher difficulties will make the game start out faster. It creates a need for fast paced reflexes, while still being forgiving, because if you are headed for a ghost, the game will slow down to give you time enough to dodge it. It is very helpful and feels forgiving.
If its too easy for you, there are three difficulties, each give you fewer and fewer bombs and lives along with amping up the game speed. If you lose a life, it simply sends the active ghosts to their penalty box, but you get to continue on after a brief delay.
This is what Pac-Man should have been all along. Just upgrading and tweaking the original classic. Well worth $10 for any arcade lover, but get it at a discount, especially since the game has so much DLC to purchase.