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Pac-Man Championship Edition

To hear the reason for Pac-Man’s creation, one would almost think that Toru Iwatani was part of Nintendo’s marketing strategy for the Wii. In an interview with the Times Online, he said the following:

“The whole thing actually started with me walking around arcades watching how many boys were playing and the fact that all the machines were about killing aliens, tanks, or people. Girls were simply not interested, and I suddenly had motivation for my work: I wanted game arcades to shed this dark, sinister image, and it seemed to me that the way to raise the atmosphere of a place is to entice girls to come in. [So] the whole purpose of Pac-Man was to target women and couples, and get a different type of player involved.”

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Pac-Man, in addition to his initial effort being successful, also became one of the earliest video game icons, spawning a hit song ‘Pac-Man Fever,’ a television show, t-shirts, memorabilia and even lunch boxes. Pac-Man’s first offering also led to sequels (Ms. Pac-Man, Pac-Man Jr.) along with games that deviated from the formula, including ‘Pac-Man Fever,’ a Mario Party-style mini-game collection, the Pac-Man World series of platformers, and Pac-Attack, a Tetris-style puzzler. While Pac-Man’s direct sequels are highly regarded (Ms. Pac-Man garners almost as much fame as her predecessor), his attempts to deviate from the formula have produced mixed results, with critics both praising and panning his releases.

After seeing Pac-Man’s original game and sequel rereleased on the Wii’s Virtual Console and Xbox Live Arcade, Pac-Man Championship Edition was then released on the Xbox 360’s Live Arcade service after being prominently featured in Microsoft’s Pac-Man World Championship Edition in New York. This edition distinguishes itself from Pac-Man’s earlier games through its focus and presentation: is it worthy of being included in the Pac-Man canon?

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Pac-Man CE’s focus represents a stark change from what purists are used to; this is chiefly due to the game’s competitive nature. Adding to the challenge of obtaining a top score, players are now tasked with obtaining said score within a specific time limit. This goal is reflected in its various play modes, which give you either five or 10 minutes to score as many points as possible.

The progression system in Pac-Man CE also differs from other games in the series. While earlier offerings would task players with clearing the entirety of the board, CE only gives you a set amount of dots on each side. Once dots are cleared on one side, fruit appears. Once eaten, a side of the board is reapportioned, rinse and repeat. Also, should you lose your life, you will merely reappear exactly where you died, adding to the game’s frantic nature.

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Pac-Man CE’s presentation is creative considering how earlier games have looked; going for a day-glow style look for the boards and techno music for the soundtrack. The music does an excellent job of keeping players focused on the task at hand with techno beats that intensify as the speed of the game increases.

It is difficult to find much wrong with Pac-Man Championship Edition as a whole; one point worth mentioning is that the game lacks any sort of multiplayer options, only allowing you to compete with others through posted scores on leader boards. Unless you value multiplayer competition, Pac-Man’s latest effort is one that is worthy of attempting, and may just allow you to become infected with ‘Pac-Man Fever’ once more.

9 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is a Staff Writer at Thunderbolt, having joined in April 2008.

Gentle persuasion

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