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Nintendo DS Review: Pac ‘n Roll

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Way above the quality of Pac-Pix, Namco’s latest treatment to their feature star is a pleasant, short, fun diversion on the DS. While Pac ‘n Roll may have worked just fine with an analog stick, it feels proper to use the stylus. It becomes a surprising, unexpected success on the console, and it’s close to an A-list title.

Its appeal comes from the level design, shockingly not mimicking its closer relative Super Monkey Ball, but the classic Sonic the Hedgehog series. Rolling Pac-Man around the stages, players at times have only light control over the gaming icon. The various bumpers and speed boost pads do most of the work, just like the Sonic titles.

That opens each stage up to some wild experimentation when you come out of those sections, and you’ll need to go through most of the levels multiple times to see it all. There are countless hidden areas strewn about, and don’t hit the exit when you first see it. It’s simple to maneuver Pac-Man through any hazard to collect the necessary dots to advance, the precise, accurate, and easy to understand control system implemented perfectly.

Boss fights are wonderful challenges, each one a unique battle that uses everything you learned in the opening world. Pac-Man’s various transformations, from a heavy knight to a lightweight flying character, add some needed variety (as if the levels don’t offer enough of that). Strategy plays a huge role here, and you’ll need a plan of attack to conquer these sometimes brutal challenges.

Not all is perfect, especially with some aggravating sections in the levels. Finding hidden items is NOT easy, and the camera (adjustable only with a button or the d-pad) is tough to move when you’re making a life or death jump. It’s set high enough above the action to rarely become a problem, but it can be bothersome in certain stretches.

It’s all too short as well, the added challenges and time attacks added to the levels not offering enough incentive to complete them. The seven stages are depressingly over too soon, and this is one game you wouldn’t mind being stretched out for another hour. Its gameplay is too fresh and fun.

It’s understandable to avoid this title, especially if you’ve been burned with Namco’s previous Pac-Man attempt on the DS. Pac ‘n Roll is definitely a different experience, and one well worth owning. The level design is a perfect example of how to make a game work with an otherwise bare concept.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • http://www.dorksandlosers.com Tan The Man

    Gotta love the Pac…