It’s always a satisfying feeling to be facing your mortal enemies. In Pac-Man World 2, Pac-Man returns to what he’s good at – chomping ghosts. Blinky, Inky, Pinky and Clyde have stolen the Golden Fruits and unwittingly released Spooky! Now it’s up to Pac-Man to get the fruit back and save the world – let the fun commence!
Pac-Man has to make his way through 25 levels spanning a familiar platform range – field, canyon, pond, treetops, snowy mountains, volcano, ocean and Spooky’s island – all to tune of familiar Pac-Man sounds and music. The music, though it is really a variation on a theme throughout the game, never gets annoying. The game follows a linear path and the load times at the start of each level (or death) are minimal. The graphics are good and appropriately cartoony, and they are 3D, but there’s not much freedom to roam around because Pac-Man is trying to go as straight as possible to get to his goal. Watch out, though, because there are twists and turns and hard to find areas that don’t follow the straight path the game usually takes. Those who played Pac-Man World will be familiar with his motions and power-ups and the game explains them well for those who are picking up a Pac-Man platform for the first time.
While the game really doesn’t move the platformer genre forward – there is such an array of gameplay that it makes it fun from one area to the next. The first few levels will suck you in – all you really have to do here is jump some holes, hit some switches, land on large platforms, kill a handful of enemies and scavenger hunt. Even the first Boss is a cakewalk. But it was all to pull the wool over your eyes, because the next territory is the tree tops, where you have nothing but tree branches, tops of tree trunks, some rope/net areas and b-doings (these are the trampolines) to keep you from falling down to a sad (and oh so cheap) death. That right – you’ve stepped into platform hell. And because that wasn’t enough, you also have to dodge saw blades, not get fried by the butane flames and kill enemies while – what else – scavenger hunting.
After that mess, the gameplay really opens up and I recommend you stick with the game until you’re out of the tree tops, because the next levels are too much fun. You’re gonna be running from avalanches, slipping on ice, skating down steep slopes, walking on lava, rev rolling on moving platforms, swimming, shooting enemies with torpedoes in your submarine, roller blading, walking on unstable platforms, as well as scavenging and destroying enemies. But let’s not forget that this is Pac-Man. Some of the levels have maze-like areas to run through and there are ghosts out to kill you that need to be vanquished by power pellets. And when you find the hidden mazes, you’ll be treated to an original style Pac-Man maze. Mind you, these are some classy mazes!
The best thing about the game is it’s replay value. You’re really gonna have to go through each level two to three times if you want 100% completion of the game. If you’re one of those gamers who just blows through games to say you beat them, get out of my house. This isn’t the game for you. Namco realized a long time ago that Pac-Man is really a game that makes wasting time fun. So they add lots of replay value to the game. Once you completed a level, you can go back and face the time trial. Collect enough tokens and you can play games in the arcade from Pac Man (10 tokens) to Ms. Pac-Man (180 tokens). Beat a hidden maze and you can play it over and over in the arcade as well.
My biggest problem with the game has to be all of the cheap deaths. I mean really! If you’re not precise with where you jump, land and -oh yeah- where you bounce; you die. This is especially painful in the boss areas where some of it boils down to just dumb luck. Also, in some of the levels there are times when the place where you need to go to next isn’t obvious until you just jump for it. Then as you fall to your death you see where you need to go.
My favorite was in “Into the Volcano” where an angled b-doing doesn’t even appear until you get to the extreme edge of the ledge you are standing on (it appeared for me as I fell off the ledge). The game compensates, however, with lots of checkpoints which will allow you to start from them when you die instead of starting the level over. And there are a few delicious places where you can acquire numerous lives over and over by killing yourself and then going back to where you found them again. Last count, I had over 200 lives made that way. The other complaint is the usual camera problems. The camera can usually be fixed by rotating the right analog stick or using the L1 button to center the camera behind Pac-Man, but there will be times when the camera is locked and you have to take a leap of faith.
So what does this all boil down too? Do I think you should buy the game? Well, if you love platformers – yes. If you love Pac Man – yes. If you like games that have high replay value – yes. If you really hate cheap deaths – no. But as for me, I bought and I’m playing. If you’re still not sure, then rent the game and make it into the snow region before you decide.