We have all had Pac-Man Fever at some point in our lives. He is perhaps one of the most recognizable icons in the industry. Still it is hard to imagine this pellet-eating figure branching out from his arcade roots. We saw it a lot back in the PS2 days with platformers and kart racers, which didn’t end well, but Namco has decided to go back and try again with Ghostly Adventures. Once again it feels like 2002 where the market was flooded with mascot platformers, and frankly I missed it.
Based on the Disney XD series (that I had no idea existed until I wrote this review) Ghostly Adventures follows our rotund friend through a series of worlds in order to stop Betrayus, the same villain from the cartoon. Pac-Man will need the aid of his friends which include series staples such as Ms. Pac-Man, Inky, Pinky, Blinky and Clyde. Betrayus has stolen a freezing machine and in turn kidnapped your cohorts. There is a lot of dialogue here, but it isn’t the focus of the game.
Ghostly Adventures is broken up into six worlds, each either their own sub-set of levels. These take place in familiar locales from the show, and actually end up rather pleasing to the eyes. I expected to jump into a mess of an experience, but from the first jump I was pleasantly surprised at how polished everything felt. Combat consists of Pac-Man chomping his way through ghosts, and even has a power-up that recharges, which allows him to chain multiple enemy bites in one fell swoop. It is simple, but it works.
Things ramp up throughout the six-to-seven hour campaign to include the quintessential power-ups such as ice and fire, and the platforming and combat rarely disappoint. This isn’t a contender for platformer of the decade or anything, but it was surprisingly entertaining. It helps that the controls are spot-on. Jumping feels just right, and combat is simple enough that anyone can pick up and play. My one gripe about the campaign itself is that the checkpoint system is a bit unforgiving for younger players.
The main collectible is, of course, power pellets, which are littered everywhere. There are also hidden items such as coins that players can collect along the way. Each stage ends by awarding a fruit that can unlock new mini-games in the hub world. Don’t get too excited though, as these are easily the weakest item in the package. I rarely found one that held my interest for more than one play, and even with friends they are quite a bore.
There is a nice variety to Ghostly Adventures as well. In addition to the power-ups themselves, the levels change based on what items I was using. For example the game turns into a sort of Monkeyball-esque title when Pac-Man gets the stone power-up. It keeps things from getting stale, and results in copious amounts of fun.
Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is more fun than it has any right to be. It is sad that it released during a time when so many bigger titles were shipping, as it may have had a chance during a slow week. Still, if your kids love the series, or you still hang on to the Pac-Man Fever on occasion, this is a solid entry in the platforming genre. I had more fun than I care to admit with this title.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. Primary play on Xbox 360.