Well over three decades since his introduction to the arcade scene, Pac-Man remains a relevant name in gaming these days, mainly due to novel twists on the classic gameplay that the 1980 arcade game first introduced. Pac-Man Vs., for example, thrives as an endless runner sort of game, where you chomp your way through a never-ending stage, continuing to survive with the help of power-ups.
Then there’s Pac-Man Championship Edition, which adds a competitive edge to things, as you continue racking up a high score in a limited amount of time, eating ghosts, dots and fruit while avoiding dying enough times. The original was a blast, but Bandai Namco somehow expanded on a good thing with Pac-Man Championship Edition 2, revamping the formula into more of a high-speed affair.
And now that game has come to Nintendo Switch, with its full competitive nature intact – and a new two-player mode that somehow mixes things up even further. But we mean that in a good way – even with all the bells and whistles the game comes with, Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 Plus keeps the dot-chomper’s fundamentals completely in focus. So it’s new, but also very retro themed and familiar – and fans of both classic and modern gaming will appreciate it.
First off, the gameplay is based on a fast-paced set-up, in which you try to eat as many dots as possible while having a ghost (and his shadowing ghost buddies) run around the stage. Now, there’s something different here, as you can accidentally bump into a ghost once without dying. But if you bump into them too many times, they become angry and pursuant, and the real chase begins.
To further tie strategy into the game, you have to eat all the dots available on a stage. Beginning levels make them easy to eat up in one pattern, but soon, things get much more complex, and you’ll have to think of a way to eat them all within the least amount of time.
By eating all the dots, you’ll earn fruit, and eventually get to a point where you can eat a power pellet and watch Pac-Man eat a string of ghosts in one tremendous gulp – provided he eats the head ghost ahead of his secondary buddies. Again, there’s a bit of a curve here, but after a few rounds, you should get what the game is all about. (There’s a tutorial to guide you, just in case.)
The controls are addictive and exciting, and really provide a fresh twist on the Pac-Man theme. What’s more, there’s a variation of modes to choose from, including a terrific Adventure mode, in which you can chomp your way through various stages before getting to a boss battle, where you have to figure out patterns of ghosts in order to do damage to a much larger one. It’s clever, and keeps you coming back for more.
But where the Switch version gets really interesting is with the debut of two-player. Here, a friend can join in, either with a JoyCon or a Pro Controller, and chomp along in Score Attack. But the rules change here as well, as touching ghosts will kill you. However, there’s a neat bullet time technique where you can avoid danger, or even help out a friend if they’re in their grasp.
All of this combined together makes for a fun game, but throw leaderboards on top of that – which actually work pretty well – and you’ve really got something. We’ve already seen a lot of players queue up some amazing scores, so you may have your work cut out for you. But you die-hard Pac-Man fans (Pac-fans?) will definitely be up for the challenge.
I think the only real setback here is that there’s no online play. But something like this really works better locally anyway, as there’s nothing that beats sitting next to a friend and laughing as you clear your way through each successive stage.
On top of that, the presentation for Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 Plus is incredibly lively. The visuals provide a nice change of pace from the usual Pac-Man design, while at the same time having a fair amount of familiarity. Again, old, but new, and sorry if that sounds weird. The game also looks good in portable mode, so no matter which way you play, you’ll find an attractive looking title.
Plus, the music is something else. While I would’ve preferred some remixed tunes from, say, the Pac-Man Fever album (look it up if you’ve never heard from it), the techno-based tunes included in Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 Plus are a real trip. Plus, the sound effects come straight from the old arcade games, so you’ll feel right at home.
Best of all, this game won’t set you back too badly on price – it can be all yours for $20. While some may wonder why it’s not less, you get an exceptional value from that, especially if you have a friend in tow that wants to get their dot chomp on.
Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 Plus continues to show Bandai Namco’s devotion for the Switch, and I love it. It’s enjoyable to play, and filled with challenges galore, no matter what mode you go with. And it makes for a great time in co-op too, no matter what your buddy’s skill level may be. While we’re not sure what’s left for a third rendition of Championship Edition to uncover, I love what’s happening with the second go-around.
Now if we could just get Space Invaders Extreme to stop by the Switch…
WWG’s Score: 4.5/5
Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.0comments
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