Pac-Man is definitely one of the best examples out there of a franchise that has managed to stand the test of time while many others have faltered over the years. Not everything has been perfect in the series, but where the character has shined brightest are the classic inspired games, with the latest one coming in the form of the highly intense Pac-Man Championship Edition 2.
The first Pac-Man Championship Edition released back on Xbox 360 just under a decade ago in 2007 as one of the first major continuations of classic Pac-Man since Ms. Pac-Man. This very well received game took the original and put a new twist on it, which was followed up by an upgraded DX version. These games really seemed to revitalize the Pac-Man franchise and now its sequel builds directly upon that excellent foundation.
Pac-Man has always been known for the group of ghosts named Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde, which are present with a little change here. As you are racing around the maze, such as in Score Attack, there will be little sleeping ghosts that will be awakened by your motion that will connect to the ghost or ghosts available, making it harder to navigate.
The major change in Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 though that changes the whole landscape of the series is the fact that you can actually touch the ghosts without dying. Instead of instantly losing a life when touching a ghost, you will bounce off of them. If you hit them too many times in a row however, the ghost will transform for a short time into a much faster and deadly form that will take a life with a single touch.
Beyond the big change with the ghosts, Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 also adds in what are known as jump pads. These pads allow you to leap from one area of the map to another, allowing for even faster movements around certain stages. These are sadly only present in some maps, but they really do add a new level of strategy to planning your paths of movement. It also adds some insanity into the mix when there are jump pads that are not always in a straight line with one another, requiring you to play around a little bit to get a feel for that specific maze. The only disappointing thing is that the jump pads sometimes feel few and far between, so they definitely could have been utilized more.
Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 offers players plenty of content to keep themselves busy, including a very helpful tutorial, Score Attack, and even the brand new Adventure Mode. The game’s tutorial is a good jumping on point for anybody first playing the game, especially due to a few new mechanics here that are new to Pac-Man as a whole. There are two tiers to this tutorial, which then leads to the game’s Score Attack mode.
At the very start of the game, you are very limited in your game options, as part of the content is locked away until you unlock it. Score Attack is one of the available options, which has 10 different levels that come in four different variations known as Single Train, Regular, Extreme, and Practice. It is kind of odd that Single Train is the default first one for each instead of Practice, but you basically unlock the different types by finishing the others with specific letter rankings. By completing each Single Train, you will also be able to try out the next level entirely as well.
The goal of Score Attack is pretty self-explanatory, but you have five minutes to play through maze after maze to rack up more points. This is done by collecting enough pellets to force a fruit to pop up that you can then collect to move to the next, which can be done quickly with the use of a bomb jump move. Each maze has specific paths you can take to most effectively get pellets as fast as possible, with you many times being able to advance without getting all of them. Every few mazes however, the goal will be to collect enough pellets to get a Power Pellet that will let you take on the lengthy ghost trains that are all around the map. By eating each of these from the front, you will be able to continue on and keep advancing.
Uses what makes the Pac-Man formula so fun
The more points you collect through Score Attack brings higher rankings for you, with the lowest being an E and going up from there. Luckily, the unlocks in the game are not all that difficult to achieve, as getting Adventure simply requires a D rating or better on a specific Score Attack level. This was a wise decision, as it prevents players from feeling locked out of content entirely just because it requires a crazy score ranking.
While the game does have a few of the aforementioned new mechanics introduced like ghost bumping and jump pads, there is also the brand new Adventure Mode. This mode is made up of different areas that have levels for you to complete, which each have a Normal, Hard, and Pro difficulty that reward one, two, and three stars for completing them respectively. There is a real lack of variety here though, as the goal is just to earn certain amounts of fruit, with each maze having a fairly short deadline.
By earning enough stars in these individual levels, you can then unlock a boss fight for each world. On the surface, this seems like it could have had a lot of potential, but instead it leaves a lot to be desired. These “boss fights” are simply the same style levels otherwise, where you are either collecting enough pellets to get a fruit or Power Pellet, with you eventually getting to the final part where the Power Pellet earned will take down the boss. This is still fun like most of the game, but it’s hard not to feel at least a little let down by what could have been really innovative boss battles.
While not returning the original game designer for Pac-Man that retired after finishing the first game, Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 uses what makes the Pac-Man formula so fun and takes it to another level. While the new Adventure Mode isn’t a huge standout due to the disappointing boss battles, new mechanical changes, like the ability to bump ghosts, really add a lot of excitement to an already fast paced game that makes Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 a very worthy follow-up on its predecessor.
Pac-Man CE 2
- Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC
- Published By: Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Developed By: Bandai Namco Entertainment
- Genre: Arcade
- US Release Date: September 13th, 2016
- Reviewed On: PS4
- Quote: "Adds a lot of excitement to an already fast paced game that makes Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 a very worthy follow-up on its predecessor."
- Ghost bumping
- Jump pads
- Classic Pac-Man with a twist
- Disappointing boss battles