Back in 2007, Pac-Man creator Toru Iwatani bid farewell to the gaming industry with a special creation for the Xbox Live Arcade. Hist parting gift, known as Pac-Man Championship Edition, took the gaming world by complete surprise. The new installment in the Pac-Man line of games introduced new gameplay mechanics and changed the game of Pac-Man as we knew it, breathing new life into a series that was over a quarter of a century old. I don’t think that anyone expected the game to be as well received as it was. Eventually, the game’s popularity led to it being ported to numerous other platforms including the iOs and Android software platforms. This year, to mark the 30th anniversary of the little yellow monster, Namco is mixing up the formula once again.
When it comes to Pac-Man C.E. DX, take everything that you know about playing the old games and throw it out of the window. This is Pac-Man for a new generation. What was once a game about pattern memorization and methodical pathfinding is now all about fast-paced decision making and precision navigation in an ever changing maze. Where the original Championship Edition felt a lot like the original game, DX changes the methodology and strategy behind the game completely. There are a lot of gameplay mechanics that have been changed in this game that require you to change “how” you play the game, but the base premise is the same as it was in Championship Edition. Players need to collect all of the dots on a stage in order to spawn a piece of fruit on the opposite side of the maze; once they pick up the said piece of fruit, a new maze of pellets is generated on the fly.
The biggest change, which should be evident to anyone who has seen a gameplay video of the game, is the removal of the limit of four ghosts on the stage. Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde aren’t the only enemies that you have to worry about now; this time around they are bringing hundreds (literally) of friends with them. In DX, the ghosts are scattered around the maze in varying amounts and lie dormant, or sleeping, until you pass by them. Once you pass by a ghost, it will wake up and give chase directly behind Pac-Man. This introduces another new gameplay aspect in the form of stacking your pursuers. The ghosts will now form a line directly behind you and give chase, following your every turn and move throughout the maze. They enemies no longer have a mind of their own and will form “conga” lines behind the player that grow longer over time. Pac-Man die hards will be turned off at the sound of this as it changes the tradition of the game and eliminates the traditional challenge. Trust me, while this does change things, it creates a whole new feel and challenge for the game.
The game plays out like the classic cellular phone / Apple II
e game “Snake” which I am sure everyone has seen at one time or another. It is rather easy to navigate the maze safely with only a few ghosts stacked behind you, but once that number climbs into hundreds, your path options will become limited as you will run into issues with the space that you conga line’s tail consumes. When this finally does occur, and things get too hectic to deal with, players can then chomp on a power pellet and consume the entire line of blue ghosts streaming behind them, racking up an insane amount of points. This time around, the game also gives you a visible counter on the duration of your power pellet’s effect, which also changes your strategy. Thanks to the existence of the counter, gamers will find their selves pushing the limit (of time) in eating every last blue ghost on the screen until they return to normal.
Gamers have also received two new offensive tools to assist them in the game in the new version as well, one of them is player controlled and one of them is automatic. As for the automatic part, the game slows down time to a crawl when a player comes close to being killed by a ghost It is very reminiscent of the Matrix and allows players to adjust their course accordingly to stave off their demise. This allows you to make last second adjustments that you would normally struggle to make running at full speed and is incredibly helpful. The other tool players have is the new ghost bomb(s). When all else fails, players have a stock amount of ghost bombs that can be launched with the press of a button that send all of the ghosts to the center of the maze, giving you some breathing room and a chance to reposition yourself accordingly. As players raise their score higher and higher, the will earn additional bombs, along with extra lives, which are added to their stock.
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