Your friendly neighborhood Games Editor is a huge Pac-Man fan; I once called Pac-Man Championship Edition DX one of the five best Xbox Windows Phone games. So naturally I jumped at the chance to meet with Namco Bandai during E3 2013 to discuss this year’s upcoming Pac-Man titles.
The meeting started out with a look at the upcoming CG animated series Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures that begins airing on Disney XD on Monday, June 17th. The 26-episode series revolves around a young Pac-Man and his friends Cylindria and Spiral as they fight to protect Pactopia from an onslaught of evil ghosts. It actually looks like a great show for kids and adults who dig Pac-Man. Bandai will be selling a snazzy line of toys to coincide with the show.
We already knew that a Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures game would be coming to Xbox 360 this year, but Namco’s announcement of two more Pac-Man titles – one for Windows 8 came as a happy surprise. Read on to learn just how Xbox 360 and Windows 8 users will be getting their Pac on in 2013!
Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures for Xbox 360 and PC
Back in the late nineties and early 2000s, Pac-man starred in a series of 3D platformers dubbed Pac-Man World. The new game based on The Ghostly Adventures feels like a spiritual successor to Pac-Man World since Pac-Man once again runs, jumps, and eats ghosts in a colorful 3D land. At the same time, this one features lots of new mechanics and flourishes from the series, making for a fresh and fun experience.
I actually got to play through The Ghostly Adventures’ full second level following the Pac-Man presentation. Running around the colorful, sci-fi landscape and chomping dots is surprisingly fun. The 3D platforming is sufficiently challenging as you’d expect, but Pac’s double jump keeps things manageable.
Our hero can chomp ghosts at any time, but you have to press the X button to do so. Attacking carries a risk. Ghosts rush at you when they get within range, so you’ll need to time your chomps right. Pressing Y activates Pac’s super move, turning nearby ghosts blue for a short time. You still have to chomp them (aww), but at least it puts the fear in them. Eating pellets replenishes the meter required for super moves.
The official screenshots don't do this game justice. it's played from a behind-the-back perspective.
Pac-Man can also collect suits in order to gain unique powers, much like in the Mario games. The only suit we saw in the demo is the Chameleon suit. Pac can use it to turn invisible and sneak by enemies. The attack button makes him stick his tongue out, snagging distant ghosts to eat or allowing Pac to swing from poles. I didn’t think a lizard suit would be all that cool in a Pac-Man title, but I actually loved the powers it gives you.
Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures will launch at retail on Xbox 360 in the fourth quarter of this year for $39.99. Unfortunately Namco Bandai has not announced an Xbox One version; relatively low key titles like this might not make sense for next gen consoles just yet. Current gen Pac-Man fans have it made, though!
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ for Xbox 360 and Windows 8
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is a fine but overpriced Windows Phone game. The XBLA and Windows 8 versions however pack a much greater quantity of content into their $10 asking prices. Those two big screen versions are about to get even bigger thanks to an impending title update. In a highly unusual move, Namco Bandai is not only updating Championship DX but also renaming it to DX+, essentially making it a new title.
DX+ contains the same 10 mazes as Championship Edition DX and adds a host of new features like better stat tracking and leaderboards. The main addition though is the ability to purchase DLC mazes, something Namco Bandai obviously hadn’t planned for when Championship Edition DX launched on XBLA back in 2010.
Renaming the game just so they can sell existing players some DLC might sound a little greedy, but ardent fans of the game can hardly scoff at the chance to play new cool new levels. Five DLC stages will be available at launch.
Two of them look a lot like existing mazes from a visual standpoint, whereas the other three chart new aesthetic territory. You’ve got a Ghostly Adventures-themed maze with Pac-Man and ghosts rendered in 3D to match the show’s style. Most excitingly, the final two mazes borrow visuals from classic Namco games Dig Dug and New Rally X. Playing a Pac-Man game as Dig Dug is just such a delightful crossover.
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ launches this summer for $10 on Xbox 360 and Windows 8. People who already own Championship Edition DX will receive the upgrade to DX+ for free. Namco Bandai couldn’t reveal the pricing of the new DLC stages yet, but they did promise the stages would be available either piecemeal or in a discounted bundle. As for a potential Windows Phone version of DX+, they didn’t rule it out in the future but don’t have plans for one at this time.
Pac-Man Museum for Xbox 360 and PC
The final Pac-Man game coming in 2013 is a downloadable collection of classic titles. Pac-Man Museum will include at least three games, though it sounded like the number could end up higher. Two of the included titles are already available separately on XBLA: the original Pac-Man and Pac-Man Championship Edition, the predecessor (and an almost entirely different game) to Championship Edition DX.
Older games are all well and good, but Pac-Man fans should really be pumped about the inclusion of Pac-Man Battle Royale. See, Battle Royale is a multiplayer arcade game that has never seen a console release before now. Namco Bandai will even have the actual arcade machine on hand at E3 tomorrow.
We didn’t have to wait until Thursday to play Battle Royale, thankfully. Namco gave three other journalists and me a chance to battle it out in an alpha build of the XBLA version. Up to four players each get to control a differently colored Pac-Man, including a cheery pink color. The mechanics actually work a lot like Championship Edition DX in that you try to eat an entire line of dots in order to make more stuff appear. The big difference is that when a player eats a power pellet, they turn giant like in Super Pac-Man and then get to eat other players! Two Super Pacs bounce harmlessly off each other, as do non-powered up players. Once all but a single Pac-Man have been eaten, the remaining player wins.
Pac-Man Battle Royale is a fantastic multiplayer twist on the classic Pac-Man gameplay. Assuming Pac-Man Museum ends up containing a good ratio of games for its price, fans of the series won’t want to miss it. Now we just have to wait for Namco Bandai to reveal the release date and price.
Riding in style
To promote the impending release of Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, Namco Bandai put a selection of beautiful cars (and models) outside of the E3 South Hall under a tent. During the event, players can try the game for themselves and be treated to a free pair of Pac-Man sunglasses.