Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures Review
The original Pac-Man is 33 years old. I’ve purchased it more than any other game ever. I bought it on Xbox Live a few weeks ago. Pac-Man has always fared well on a 2D plane, such as in the fantastic Pac-Man Championship Edition games, but his forays into the third dimension have been a bit lackluster. Pac-Man World was actually satisfying as a platformer, but its sequel was pretty much completely ruined by one of the worst cameras to ever plague a game. I’m still waiting for a standout 3D Pac-Man game, and when Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures was announced, I had no hopes it would meet my demands. It hasn’t, but I’m still surprised.
I was completely and utterly baffled by what was going on in Ghostly Adventures until I did some research and found out the game was based on a Disney XD show of the same name. Then this version of Pac-Man’s younger-sounding voice started to make more sense, as did the overly colorful and silly cutscenes. The writing is nonsense, but it doesn’t really matter. It exists as an excuse to guide Pac-Man to another random environment, such as an ice temple. It’s a platformer and doesn’t need to explain the reasoning behind its platforming. It’s basically the same thing as “Mario rescues Peach from Bowser”.
Where platformers matter are in their, well, platforming. Ghostly Adventures delivers on that front, at least later on. I was a little concerned after the first several levels, but then Ghostly Adventures hits its stride, transforming into a decidedly old school platformer. It’s similar to the Pac-Man World games, but offers a lot more variety and a much, much better camera. This time players can actually see what Pac-Man is about to land on after he jumps.
Pac-Man still has an appetite for yellow pellets or radioactive orbs or whatever those things are. In Ghostly Adventures, he also eats “power berries” and other various food items. The pellets are scattered everywhere and Pac-Man gains an extra life after he eats a certain amount of them (extra lives can also be gained through the consumption of pies). The power berries grant Pac-Man special abilities. For example, some ghosts are made of fire, so Pac-Man must eat an ice berry, which gives him the ability to breathe ice. Other berries are used to dispose of other types of enemies and some must be eaten in order to traverse a certain section of an environment. The power berries are an attempt to change up the gameplay from time to time and they get the job done.
The levels are the real star in Ghostly Adventures. They are simply really fun to play through after a certain point in the game. They’re extremely linear and not too deep, but at the same time they also manage to be imaginative and joyful. They’re also sometimes challenging, but the challenge comes from the platforming itself and not as a result of the game working against the player. This is far removed from the excruciating Sonic: Lost Worlds.
Graphics & Sound
Silliness abounds. The voice acting in Ghostly Adventures is so cheesy I cringed at times. It left me with absolutely no desire to ever watch the show. However, I did get a kick out of hearing Pac-Man’s classic “waka” sound ever time he ate a ghost. The music in the game is very whimsical, but always seems too loud, as if it was taken directly from the show (it was). The colorful visuals are too much a muchness, becoming comparable to having several buckets of multicolor paint tossed in your face over and over again for several hours. Ghostly Adventures looks almost exactly like the show, but it’s a game, and the task of simply looking at it began to annoy me if I played it for a considerable amount of time.
Ghostly Adventures offers a local multiplayer option that up to four players can participate in. The only mode present is a twist on the classic Pac-Man formula in which Pac-Man must stay away from ghosts until he finds a power pellet. However, it’s a twist in the wrong direction. It’s enjoyable for all of two minutes and then it becomes apparent that it’s a failure on a very basic level. It’s all running around in circles with no point and lacks any sort of substance. It’s there so “Multiplayer” could be printed on the box in a ploy to garner more sales.
Ghostly Adventures is a slog to begin with and it unfortunately stays that way for several levels. The early levels offer nothing except arenas for Pac-Man to jump around in. Power berries are very sparse in these levels, which makes them almost wholly uninteresting. Many players may not even get past the beginning of Ghostly Adventures before setting it aside and popping in another game. It’s a shame because it does pick up the pace as it goes.
Also, enemy encounters are way too easy, and that never changes. The boss battles in Ghostly Adventures are fine even if they all feel a little “been there, done that”, but Pac-Man can defeat nearly every foe he comes across with a single chomp. For some reason Ghostly Adventures features power pellets although Pac-Man can eat ghosts without having to first devour a power pellet. Ghostly Adventures is clearly aimed at children, but not every child is a complete idiot. If Ghostly Adventures didn’t have its level design, it would have nothing.
Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is definitely a renter if games can be considered as such. It’s not substantial enough to warrant a purchase of any sort. What it is is a serviceable and sometimes tedious platformer that can be pretty fun, but feels entirely average. I can’t imagine anyone playing through it more than once. I’m still waiting on my vision of what a 3D Pac-Man game should be. Ghostly Adventures isn’t it, but hey, I liked it.