PAC-Man and the Ghostly Adventures – As We Play

Format – Xbox 360

Very rarely does the occasion arise that a game franchise – that has existed for over three decades – requires little to no explanation. I mean… It’s PAC-Man. For Thor’s sake – what do you want me to say? It’s addictive, the music is world renowned, every element of the game is known throughout the entire world; we try and pretend PAC-Man World rally doesn’t exist, and we all love it because it’s FREAKIN’ PAC-MAN!

However, the one element I did not realise going in was this game is based on the “PAC-Man and the Ghostly Adventures” animated series, which I have not seen. Nor did I even know existed until now. You may not have heard of it either; the show has never been broadcast on any television or streaming service in all of Europe – ever. I’ve never played a videogame based on a animated series, based on a videogame before, so this could be interesting.

PACMan Gasp

Okay, so it seems that after no less than 90 seconds of starting the game – and suffering through the insulting title screen theme – that knowledge of the animated series is absolutely imperative to understanding this game. We are less than two minutes into this and the characters in the game have already referenced past events, involving: The Temple of Slime, Globe Energy Orbs, Pacopolis, Slimetanium, Betrayus, and a Fridigitator (?!).

You may think I’m purposefully skimping you on the details; but I mean no exaggeration when I say all the above were merely mentioned in a one minute cutscene, referring to all of them in past tense, using anecdotes of events that have not been explained, mentioned, or seen anywhere in this game. I can only assume this all takes place in the one existing season of the animated series. That isn’t available in this country. Or anywhere else on this continent. Super.

Also, there appears to be no difficulty setting what-so-ever. Meaning the one-size-fits-all difficulty of the game is incredibly easy for anybody who has – or hasn’t – held a controller before. There’s even an achievement (achievement spoiler incoming) for collecting 50 lives. I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say this game is not going to be relying on difficult or challenging combat.

The visual aesthetics of the game are shocking good, however. The environments are littered with well designed PAC-Man-esque elements, and PAC-Man and the enemy ghosts themselves look colourful and interesting.

1 - PacJump

The gameplay is very monotonous, but not without the occasional charm. You can collect “Power Berries” to gain certain powers: ice, fire, bounce, fly, magnetise, chameleon (?!), etc. However, these are incredibly contextual per level and as they litter the landscape at every possible platform, they boil down to little more than a stupid costume for PAC-Man to wear. On top of all of this, there’s an auto-aim system, so any enemy within a 30 feet radius will be auto-targeted with your newly added power once you start mashing the button.

Everything else in the game appears to be tedious platforming. You do have a health bar, but you will never die because of the enemy ghosts. Bar the rare ghost that requires you to have a certain Power Berry active – which will always be found two feet away – you need only hammer the ‘X’ button until PAC-Man chomps all enemies within range with auto-aim.

You will only ever lose lives when you fall off the platforms, which will happen a lot. Either because of terrible camera controls – that limit your ability to look both up and down, cheap disappearing platforms, or knock back from enemies. The most frustrating offender is when you are mashing the X button to chomp ghosts, one will float just outside of the incredibly small platform you’re on, and the auto-aim will cause you to go for that one but then plummet into oblivion with no way to recover.

1 - PacChameleon

Eventually I discovered there’s a hub world, some school – which I assume is also tied to the television show nobody in Europe has seen – which contains absolutely nothing of any use. Pinky, Blinky, Inky, and Clyde (ghosts from the original game) are present and accounted for, but are friendly (FRIENDLY!) and spout casual one-liners as you walk by. I’m not entirely sure, but several lines of dialogue even hint that PAC-Man and Pinky are dating. This is the one rare time that I’m incredibly grateful that I haven’t got the faintest idea what’s going on.

There are four mini-games available in the hub world, which you can unlock as you gain enough random food (including zucchinis?!), but these are all generic game-types that look like default demos from the Unity engine. There’s a Battle Tanks rip-off maze game where you shoot enemies using a pineapple tank, a Spy Hunter rip-off where you drive zucchinis (???), a R-Type rip-off in a lemon spaceship, and a Spaceship rip-off where you fly a cherry helicopter in 2D to rescue citizens. All of which don’t even equate to 5% of the original’s fun or enjoyment.

At this point you may be wondering why I haven’t talked much about the gameplay; the answer is because it’s the laziest and most unashamedly generic part of the entire experience. All Worlds are merely pallet swaps, with PAC-Man simply having to jump from platform to platform to reach the end of the level. Every. Single. Time.

There are 6 Worlds, with approximately 5 mandatory levels and a bonus stage in each, and these consist of: Pacopolis (City), Temple of Slime (it’s green), Temple of Ice (it’s cold), and Temple of Fire (it’s hot). “But wait, Duncan, didn’t you say there were 6 Worlds?” Why yes, I did, but they’re not on that list because the 5th and 6th World are literally the City and Slime temple AGAIN but with the word “Revisted” tacked on. Yes, really, I’m dead serious. It’s almost as if they didn’t think anybody would struggle through to the end (as I sadly did).

Don’t worry about that pesky “plot” involving the Fridigitator and what-not, because literally nothing more has been explained since the opening 60 second cut-scene of pure past tense jargon. Honestly, at this point, I don’t even know the characters’ names as they consistently talk as if they’ve been best friends for years, so they never utter anybody’s name but PAC-Man (who they disgusting call “Pac”).

1 - PacFire

Without wishing to spoil anything: the ending is utter garbage and completes with a 30 second cut-scene ending in the word “LUNCH!”. If it sounds stupid, you’d be correct.

Why does this game exist? Who is it made for? Nobody on the continent will even know of the animated series, unless they’re particularly savvy pirates, even then, the “plot” is completely bare-boned and the game is almost entirely reliant on dull and infuriating platforming gameplay. Every world is merely a pallet swap to change the window dressing of jumping from platform to platform, picking up the pointless PAC-Man pellets.

Not to mention this crazy game quotes movies such as Aliens and Terminator, which I am fairly confident is not suitable content for the average fan of the animated series.

I can honestly say this one of the most brain dead, lazy, unnecessary games I’ve played in my entire life. It’s technically competent – in that it at least didn’t crash on me – but every other aspect has been mishandled, poorly implemented, or straight up lazily made. This game besmirches the name of PAC-Man worse than PAC-Man Kart Rally.

Areas for Improvement

  • More coherent storytelling. Preferably with some “recap” section of the animated series.
  • More mini-games, with fewer generic ones.

Final Analysis

I have almost nothing good to say about PAC-Man and the Ghostly Adventures. Every aspect of the gameplay was tedious, rushed, lazy, or flat out baffling. The one saving grace being the pleasing visual design. A complete waste of time for everybody involved, gamers and developers alike, and truly has no reason to exist on UK shelves.

Technical Competency – 3/10

Graphic/Sound Quality – 4/10

Network Stability – N/A

Overall – 3.5/10