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Nintendo DS Review: Pac Pix

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Obviously struggling to come up with new concepts from one of their most endearing characters, Namco has slapped Pac-Man into Pac Pix. It’s one of those games that would only work on the DS; that’s a curse and a highlight. It’s too focused on the concept, and not on actual entertainment.

It’s a simple premise. After being led through a tutorial, players must draw their own ragged version of Pac-Man (it’s amazing that it’s impossible to do perfectly) to eat the ghosts floating around the screen. Movement is controlled by drawing lines. When your own creation hits them, the yellow blob will move in the direction the line was drawn. Bigger Pac-Men move slower but can take out more ghosts at once; smaller ones move quicker but require more corralling.

This is fine for a while. The game struggles to add new challenges, including various obstacles that can knock Pac-Man out. Boss battles break up the plain normal action and inject some real enjoyment until they’re over in mere seconds. The only challenge is derived from the number of ghosts you need to defeat within the occasionally strict time limit. It’s not hard to snatch ghosts up in the gaping maw of the classic game character. The attempt to use the top screen is rather useless, and only die-hard point seekers will even bother.

Beyond just offering something different, the ability to actually create your own game character (no matter how simplistic) is a fantastic idea. The programming behind this concept is impressive. It magically picks up collisions no matter how deformed you made Pac-Man. It’s all worthy of a game, just one with some more depth and substance.

Obviously, there’s not much to look at here. The ghosts are plain, the background is off-white, and your outlined creation is nothing more then that. The menus offer a nice storybook style that suits the game and the fun, upbeat mood the game is going for. Boss battles are the only standouts, and even they barely register anything above below average.

On the other hand, this is a game screaming for headphones. The music, including the wonderful remix of the classic Pac-Man theme, is just fantastic. It’s infectious, and it doesn’t leave your head for some time after the console is turned off. All the sound effects remain as they did over 20-years ago, and that’s hardly a complaint. It gives a brand new game an already warm feeling of nostalgia.

If you play your games in short bursts, whether on a bus ride to work or on a break, this game isn’t going to wear you down. If you’re the type that enjoys a solid game time before going to bed, you won’t spend too many nights with this. It’s a concept that deserves exploration, and the idea doesn’t deserve to die. It simply needs to be surrounded by a deeper game.

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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.