Pac-man just won’t die! Well, unless he runs into a ghost, though even that’s up for debate these days. The point is that ol’ Pac has been around for almost thirty years now, which is bound to make some readers feel a little dated. That doesn’t mean he’s not still one of the kings of the gaming landscape, though. We’ll just forget about Ghostly Adventures for now and instead focus on Pac-Man Championship Edition 2, the yellow circle’s latest outing.
This, of course, isn’t your daddy’s Pac-Man, though I guess that phrase doesn’t really mean much since we’re potentially two generations post-Pac-Man and…anyway, it’s different! While Pac traditionally runs around biting dots and getting bit by ghosts, here the colorful baddies are significantly less threatening. Ramming into a ghost doesn’t do much, really, though repeated bumps run the risk of pissing it off at which point it will kill Pac in true classic style the next time he bumps it. This isn’t especially likely, though, and it typically only happens if you’re not paying attention or get trapped, plus their murderous rage wears off fairly quickly.
Instead, the focus is on racking up points, with the ghosts serving as just another way of doing so. Stages no longer end when all the dots have been eaten; instead, you’re eating dots to spawn fruit, which refresh the stage with new dots, which you’ll eat to spawn more fruit and so on. New players will usually see the best results by following the obvious path defined by the dots each time they refresh. Every so often you’re given the chance to eat a power pellet instead, which lets Pac gobble ghosts just like he did in 1980.
Unlike those days, though, the mazes are also packed with mini-ghosts; as Pac nears them, these mini-ghosts will join up with their bigger brethren and form a chain. Your biggest-scoring plays will take place when you’ve created a giant chain of mini-ghosts and eat their leader, consuming both the big ghost and the entire chain of mini-ghosts for absurd piles of points.
Successful play, then, revolves around plotting your moves and reacting quickly so you’re constantly munching dots, fruit or ghosts, along with refreshing the stage via fruit and clearing out giant mini-ghost chains as necessary. If you end up in a bad spot or want to quickly travel the stage, you can use a bomb to bounce Pac back to his starting point. All in all, it’s addictive! There are even boss battles using similar mechanics to take on in certain stages.
All of this is tied together with a retro-style presentation that manages to feel both old and new at once. It immediately looks like Pac-Man, but your preconceptions go out the window when eating a big chain of mini-ghosts results in a cutscene of Pac soaring into the air while munching.
Combine this with the vast amount of content, maps and challenges spread throughout the various modes and you’ve got the recipe for a ghost-gobbling winner. Fans of the previous Championship Edition may or may not appreciate the sequel’s changes to that game’s formula, particularly regarding how ghosts are less lethal this time around, but Pac-fans in general should at least give Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 a shot. It’s a great example of how a classic game can adapt to the modern landscape.