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Pac-Man Championship Edition DX

Pac-Man, gaming’s most recognized hero, has been gobbling up pellets and ghosts for three decades now, so there isn’t a more fitting holiday release than Pac-Man Championship Edition DX. But this isn’t the Pac-Man that your parents might remember, a box set of classics slapped with a “did it really cost them this much to re-release this?” price tag. Instead, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is a re-imagining of classic Pac-Man gameplay infused with insane speed, stylish graphics and more ghosts than you’ve ever faced before.

More about response than strategy, Pac-Man CE DX is a dream for this generation’s gamers who might have found Pac-Man’s previous ghostly adventures too slow for their attention span. The classic staples of Pac-Man are still in place: it’s still 2D, Pac-Man is still gobbling pellets and ghosts are still after him. But the game is faster and the stages are much more dynamic than the static stages of old. Levels start off slow enough, but as you devour more pellets and ghosts, the speed gradually rises, giving Pac-Man and his foes a lot more speed.

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Pac-Man CE DX‘s speed demands quick reflexes and planning as your eyes are forced to track ahead for the best path in almost the same way a player would navigate a racing game. Complicating matters further are dynamic levels, which change the stage design as you play. As you work through the game’s courses, the levels evolve, with each side of the screen changing, creating new barriers, tracks of pellets to follow and ghosts to dodge as you progress. This gives each stage a unique feel and keeps the action fresh even after long marathons in the game’s free play mode. My particular favorite was Darkness, a course which casts a fog over the whole screen, only revealing the immediate area around Pac-Man to the players.

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Adding to the challenge are more ghosts than our yellow hero has ever faced before. While the core four have returned, they’ve been joined by a cadre of unnamed ghosts that linger in random spots all over the screen. These ghosts will try to trap you, but for the most part their purpose is to join up with the train of ghosts that chase you as you zig and zag through the levels. At times, there will be hundreds of ghosts on screen just waiting for you to chomp down on the power pellet. To give players a chance against the obscene number of ghosts that they’ll face and to help them cope with the speed of the game, Pac-Man CE DX incorporates a form of bullet time that automatically kicks in when Pac-Man gets a little too close to a ghost. This gives players a small window of time where they can try to dodge an on-coming ghost or drop a bomb that sends the ghosts packing.

With ten different courses to select and multiple challenges for each (mostly time trials and score challenges), there’s quite a bit to Pac-Man Championship Edition DX to keep players busy. The biggest disappointment I had with the game was that there was no multiplayer. Considering how creative the single-player mode was, it’s sad that the creators couldn’t come up with something for multiplayer, even a simple versus mode. But the excellent graphics, great course design and simple-but-fresh gameplay in the package make this a game that’s tough to pass up. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is an easy recommendation.

8 out of 10

The author of this fine article

is an Associate Editor at Thunderbolt, having joined in February 2003.

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