I'm not great at Pac-Man, but I'm a sucker for a Pac-man game. I remember picking up the old Namco Museum discs for PlayStation One (Volumes One and Three were the best ones), and playing Pac-Man with the PlayStation D-Pad until my fingers bled. Sure, it was an adjustment controlling the little yellow chomper with anything but an arcade stick, but we made do. We adapted.
But, I'm sad to say, there is no adapting to playing Pac-Man Museum+ with an Xbox controller. This thing is damn near unplayable.
I was pretty excited when I saw the new collection pop up on Xbox Game Pass, as my kids and I love playing the PS4 version of Ms. Pac-Man. Pac-Man Museum+ has a pretty fun setup. Players wander around an isometric arcade (as Pac-Man, of course), playing various Pac-games at will. There are a few simple tasks to complete to unlock all of them, but I think my family achieved all of those in about an hour. As you play, you unlock coins, which can be used to redecorate your arcade. It's simple, but fun and engaging, especially for kids.
But then, that hour we took to unlock all the machines was about all we could stomach, and we quickly deleted the game afterwards. It turns out that whatever optimization work was done on Pac-Man Museum was catastrophically unsuccessful. What's the issue, you ask? You can't steer Pac-Man.
Moving Pac-Man around the mazes in the various games is almost impossible. The character simply does not respond well from the inputs from the Xbox analog stick. This leads to a lot of scenarios where the player screams things like "Go down! Down! DOWN!" while Pac-man continues merrily to the right, barreling headlong into a ghost. It's not just one game that suffers - the entire collection is nearly unplayable, leaving the player feeling like Satan himself is intercepting the signal from the Xbox controller and cackling to himself while he sends Pac-Man into a nest of ghosts.
And before you ask, internet, yes, I switched controllers. And no, it wasn't just me. I had four different players try out Pac-Man Museum+, including my 21-year-old son (who just platinumed Elden Ring - I'm so proud). Everyone immediately experienced the same issues, muttering things like "What's wrong with this damn thing?" under their breath. Pac-Man is not an easy game; it's supposed to be tough. But in this case, Pac-Man feels flat out broken.
I'm hoping that some patch work is done on Pac-Man Museum+, because the collection itself (and the stuff around it) is very cool. So cool, in fact, that I want to play it. But before I can do that, some work needs to be done so I can actually, you know, control Pac-Man.