Pac Man was one of the biggest games of the 1980’s if not the whole of video gaming. Now Namco are giving the old yellow peril the dust off and a new chapter in his impressive history. So chomp down on your power pills with RetroBear as he looks at PacMan for the New Generation….

PacMan 1980's Cartoon

He's back. And this time he brought his missus and the nipper

Chances are if you are like me (i.e. over 30 years old) then one of the first games you would have come across in your youth would have been Pac Man. Whether it be Pac Man the arcade game or Pac Man on the Atari 2600, you would have been chomping up those power pills and eating ghosts before you knew how to count to 10. It should be said that along with Donkey Kong, Asteroids and Pong this is one of the titles that put video gaming on the map.

1980's PacMan

How PacMan looked originally

Briefly, Pac Man was also responsible for having a hand in the Great Video Games Crash of 1983. Atari’s home conversion to the 2600 was much maligned, bearing little resemblance to the arcade original. Atari produced millions of cartridges and the game did sell well, but its reputation preceded it and they subsequently massively overestimated the demand for the game.


PacMania Arcade

PacMania - a very good attempt at a 3D-ish update

Of course by that point Pac Man was the hottest thing on the planet, and even spawned it’s own cartoon spin-off show. Despite the success of the arcade follow ups Ms Pac Man and Pac Man Jr, the world’s love affair with the rotund yellow blob died as quickly as it had been born. There were a couple of attempts to reintroduce Pac to the next generation of gamers with the games Pac-Land and Pac-Mania (the latter being a very good 3D isometric version of the classic game), but these were short lived. Pac, it seemed, would be put out to pasture for good.


That is until I stumbled across Pac Man Championship DX, available to download on both PS3 and XBOX 360. To say I was blown away would be an understatement. I am not a fan of “reversions” of old games unless things can be improved. At the core of DX is still the same game; eat the pills, eat the ghosts. However with added extras such as 5 and 10 minute time trials, Ghost Combo (eating as many ghosts as you can in a row) and completing small stages of each courses in the quickest time, the legend of Pac Man has reborn.


PacMan Championship Edition DX

Now that's cool - new PacMan and a total blast to play !

It’s not a straightforward, tag on some new bells and whistles, version either. In the original you were chased by 4 ghosts. Now the levels are set with ghosts in sleeping positions which wake up as you go past. This enables you to create some pretty elaborate Ghost Trains, all to be chomped for bonus points. The game speeds up as you go along, getting quicker the more points and fruit tokens you collect and slowing down when you die. Finally, should you find yourself in a tricky situation on the maze, you can use a bomb to temporarily blow the ghosts back to the centre or the game will slow down (cheating you may think and totally different to the original game, but believe me it does take a lot of the frustration away from easy deaths), allowing you to adjust your position and prevent an unnecessary loss of life.



Onwards and upwards for a further generation ?

OK, so its not like the original in many senses, but at the core of the game is still the basic premise that was there back in the early 1980’s. Its a tremendous game as well, requiring quick joypad skills along with a vague of idea of the quickest way round on Time Trials and some very quick reactions as the game can run up to 50 times its normal speed. There are online leaderboards so you can see how you fare against the rest of the world, 9 different courses to master and by setting your own times on each level, plenty of longevity in going back and trying to beat them.


All in all for under a £10 note this presents fantastic value for money. I would wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone, and not just retro gamers. Namco have promised us more reversions of some of their classic games. We wait to see what the next gem turns out to be.


The Retro Verdict : Leader of the Pac.