When you have an outstanding library of classic and familiar games, its time to put them into a kart racer. All companies should do it and PAC-MAN Kart Rally by BANDAI NAMCO is no exception. They should have left their own name out, but maybe Pac-Man is too small to sell the game. Like a lot of mobile games, there is a free version and I will be discussing the paid version.
Pac-Man Kart Rally is your typical kart racer with twelve main closed circuit tracks spread out across four cups with a slew of classic drivers from the 1980s arcade games. The game is bright, vibrant and colorful with themes for Pac-Man, the ghosts, Katamari, and Dig-Dug. I should point out the Dig-Dug series of tracks feel a lot like the Pac-Man ones. The Pac-Man levels should have been in mazes with blue bars rather than out on the open road under a sunny sky. Since so many tracks blend together with only two themes that look different, they all feel forgettable.
Some of the layouts are designed to look like a ghost or a space ship. Its a layer of humble creativity to what could have just been circle tracks. Other than that, the tracks look generic and a few of them could be for any game. The car and driver models look good, but the track and object detail is low polygon from twenty-years ago with flashy new textures.
Tracks go up and down with hills, shortcuts, short jump ramps, water puddles and zippers to throw you forward with a burst of speed. There are no tunnels, but that’s to be expected with a mobile phone’s limitations. The roads themselves are wide and spacious like a lot of other kart racers.
As you drive, you touch pac-pellets that will increase your speed a bit. Getting hit will drop a pellet on the ground for someone else to pick up. There are blue weapon boxes to give you a random trope of go-kart ordinance.
In terms of weapons, there are fitting weapons that encompass everyone in the game. A pellet boost that is a simple turbo. Getting a Pac-Man makes you invincible. Using a ghost will make the other drivers slow. Eating a cherry will make you go faster and improve your handling for a short time. A Dig-Dug drill will act like a mine, but I only assume that, no one but me ever used one. Last, there is a Damasi ball that first acts like an orbiting shield, but you can then throw it.
Joining Pac-Man is Taizo Hori from Dig-Dug, Blinky the ghost, the prince from Katamari, and a slew of other unlockable drivers including the three other ghosts, a spaceship from Galaga and two others. They all have their stats for handling, acceleration and weight. How weight factors into a game with barely any jumps is beyond me. Perhaps its for taking short cuts through the grass or driving through mud puddles that under normal circumstances slow you to a crawl. Each character has three karts to drive, two of which you’ll need to unlock. Its a great line-up that adds to the fun for me.
When you’re racing, its only four drivers on the track at once. There is multiplayer support which is always nice, even if its dead. So have a friend next to you. Finishing a race in the top two will advance you to the next and unlock something.
Like other kart racers for mobile devices, you can tilt your phone to steer and you will always be driving forward. There are buttons on each side to steer one way or the other if you hate tilting your phone. At the bottom of the screen are buttons for the weapon on the right, jump in the center and brake on the left. I feel like the jump could have been on the left, because the brake in any kart racing game feels unnecessary. Some people might dislike the auto accelerate, but its fine.
The big problem that I have when turning is that on hairpin turns, you can turn too fast for the camera to keep up; so the camera will be stuck focused on your side rather than behind you. This has cost me a first place spot and it happens once or twice per race with it happening more often on some tracks than others.
Other problems include all the objects popping in. Entire trees just appear in the close distance. Its never anything distracting, nor did it plop a tree in front of me, its just noticeable, but it is a game on a mobile phone.
Beyond the tournament cups, there are extra modes for challenges, time trial, chase, survival and a mirror mode that mirrors the tracks. The challenges offer a variety of twelve missions across three cups. Missions like drive through five gates before time runs out, collect eight pac-pellets before time expires and so on. Survival has you racing three laps with whoever is in last place getting eliminated. Chase gives you a small head start and you need to maintain it. Its a tough mode to lose.
Perhaps the worst part about the game are the music loops. I love the new Pac-Man remix, but hearing a ten second loop of it makes me want to turn the music off. No other songs were on my nerves like this one.
Even with its flaws, PAC-MAN Kart Rally by NAMCO BANDAI is a fun game worth your time on any mobile device. It feels like it has a lot to offer in terms of cup races, challenge missions and unlockable drivers to get your money’s worth.