GAME NAME: Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures
DEVELOPER(S): Bandai Namco
PLATFORM(S): 360, PS3, PC, Wii U, 3DS
RELEASE DATE(S): October 29th, 2013
Nostalgia is a funny thing, a funny thing that gives a lot of gamers that warm, fuzzy feeling inside and acts as a link between our gaming past as well as what lies ahead. As a character as well as a franchise, Pac-Man has the opportunity to exploit these nostalgic feelings and has managed to provide a reasonable effort at doing so in previous Pac-Man ‘World’ titles during the early 2000’s. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, not in the slightest.
Ghostly Adventures is based around the animated TV series of the same name and has a cast of some of the worst thought out characters one could imagine. The game’s (as well as the TV series’) storyline is very orientated towards children with awful puns and dated phrases as well as uninspiring moral dilemmas. Pac-Man finds himself in a school building in the center of Pacopolis, yes, “Pacopolis” with his mortal enemies Pinky, Blinky, Inky, and Clyde roaming the schools halls, CHATTING to him along the way. Evidently, something has happened in the cartoon to ensure that everyone is now fantastic friends, which is great for a much younger audience but does next to nothing in exploiting Pac-Man’s potential appeal to an older generation. This, at its core, is the reason for Ghostly Adventures being totally unbalanced as a game. The theme is children orientated, it won’t appeal to most adults and yet its gameplay is far too ‘advanced’ for its intended demographic. Think of any platforming stereotype over the past few years and you are almost guaranteed to find it in Ghostly Adventures, everything from the level design to the ludicrous power-ups.
You can expect lava, ice, **add any other generic theme here** and a temple of some description as theme based levels that all contain equally generic power-ups and gameplay mechanics. To give the level design some credit, there are, on occasion, some good ideas that are unfortunately poorly executed and short lived. While everything in Ghostly Adventures is blatantly ‘borrowed’ from other titles, this is still acceptable when compared to the game’s camera mechanic. During some segments, you are forced to manually move the camera around in order to correctly navigate Pac-Man through the level and the movement of the camera angle actually has a determining bearing on your navigation and speed. Either this is an innovation that is far ahead of its time, or it’s just a poorly implemented feature… I can’t quite decide, but as a safe option I’ll confide in the latter.
Ghostly Adventures does offer a break in the madness of its campaign mode in the way of a multiplayer segment that supports up to four players. This multiplayer mode has a very interesting and clever concept but like much of the game is poorly implemented. You (and your friends) take on the role of one of Pac-Man’s traditional enemies and roam through a 3D reenactment of the traditional Pac-Man levels picking up items and doing your utmost to avoid Pac-Man who is now amazingly your enemy again. The execution is slow and laborious, and if you’re searching for this indented type of multiplayer game, a title such as Nintendo Land might be more fitting.
With the current variety of 3D, 2D and 2.5D platformers from both major as well as independent studio’s, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures fades into insignificance. Too glitchy for adults and too difficult for younger kids; the game fails to reach its intended audience. Perhaps next time around Pac-Man will return to his roots rather than being an example of a poorly used license in an overly generic experience.