Pac-Man is back! Not that he ever went away... This year he's shown up on almost every platform, except the N64 (which is too bad!), and is still as much fun as the first time you ever dropped a quarter into that machine while waiting for your socks to dry! (I was quite awful at Pac-Man, so my socks were always wet when I got back home, by the way!). Namco has managed to keep that little yellow ghost-eater in our minds for 20 years, and now, they've created his best game yet, Pac-Man World. Unlike most of the nearly unplayable retro retreads (Frogger, Pitfall and Centipede spring to mind), P-MW doesn't feel forced at all. Rather, you get a nice sort of nostalgic buzz from this game that lasts long after you've shut off your Playstation. The game is a "2.5 D" platformer, similar to Klonoa, or Tomba!, in which Pac-Man has to rescue his friends from Ghost Island, where they are being held captive by the evil Toc-Man, but you have a lot more freedom of movement here. From the laugh out loud funny CG intro, in which all the Pac-characters (and a guest!) are kidnapped, to the full version of the arcade game, (complete with the analog support missing in the Namco Museum games), this game gets it all done right!
The graphics are wonderful, and you'll get a kick out of the many cool animations for Pac-Man, as he runs, jumps and swims (!) throughout the huge levels on Ghost Island. Most of the enemies that you'll face move in simple patterns, but there are a couple that pop out of thin air, or come from offscreen, but you can easily butt-bounce, or throw the power pills you collect at them. There are tons of environmental hazards to avoid in each area as well, and the level design is excellent, with loads of switches to throw and some clever hidden paths to find. The game is quite long, and the areas never get boring, thanks to some superb level design. The controls are simple to pick up, and the first level gives you all the clues you need, via handy signposts, on what to do and when. I love it when the bad guys leave these things strewn about, don't you? There are also dozens of mazes to play throughout the game, ranging from small and simple to huge, trap-filled puzzlers that keep you on your toes! And what would a platform game be without bosses? The ones here are challenging without being too frustrating, and most will have you laughing your head off, as you try to defeat them! The music and sound FX during the game are priceless, with various remixes of the Pac-Man theme and other great Namco games. You'll most likely get a smile on your face the first time you see and hear fruit bouncing along the bottom of the screen, eat a ghost, or rescue one of your friends...
I love the fact that you can just jump into some of the new 3-D mazes right from the main menu without having to spend hours and hours unlocking tons of secrets. There's so much stuff packed into this game, that even after you're done, you'll go back, just to see what else you can find! Unlike a lot of games that SAY they're for the whole family, but end up just being boring, clumsy messes, Pac-Man World shines, with it's simple, yet challenging gameplay, and the wonderful graphics and sounds. There's nothing bad I can say about this game, other than the fact that a whole lot of kids probably won't get most, or any of the multiple references to other classic Namco arcade games- or why Mom and Dad keep hogging the PS! It's a great history lesson, by the way! I'd write more, but I hear that theme music calling me, and it's a call I just can't resist!!! Toc-Man, you're goin' DOWWWWWN! P.S. to Namco: how about updating those Namco collections to analog control? That and a 3-D Dig Dug would also be nice...
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