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Xbox Live Arcade Review: Pac-Man

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In the last 30 years the videogame industry has seen the rise of many classic characters. Mario, Sonic, Donkey Kong, they all reached incredible heights in popularity, but there was one man who stepped into the spotlight long before any of them — one of gaming’s first, and finest mascots, Pac-Man.

Staring in over 30 games as well as an animated cartoon and a top 40s pop song, Pac-Man quickly became a true icon of the 1980s. Now 27 years after Pac-Man first appeared in Japanese arcades, Namco has decided to bring him back and let him loose on the biggest arcade in the world, the Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA).

Like every other retro arcade game that has been brought to the XBLA, Pac-Man features a simple front-end that allows you to view basic options, help and achievements, with a simple bezel background. It’s all very detailed and the use of Pac-Man and ghosts to highlight the selected menu item was definitely a nice touch.

Game play remains the same as the original, run through the maze, eat dots, run from ghosts, eat power pellet, eat ghost. It’s simple, it’s fun, it’s Pac-Man. The analog stick works great for controlling Pac-Man, but surprisingly the d-pad is terribly unresponsive.

The HORI Dead or Alive 4 Arcade stick, which is mapped out as the d-pad and has very well defined directions, also suffers the same problems leading one to believe that the fault lies within the game’s code and not with the hardware. It’s a minor complaint because the analog stick works perfectly, but it’s still a fault that’s not to be over looked.

Pac-Man’s graphics appear to have been slightly updated in order to make the game look sharp in HD, but luckily for fans, Namco didn’t feel the need to give the game a completely new coat of paint like Konami has given Frogger, so the characters still have their classic pixilated designs.

It looks good and it plays okay, but unfortunately at the end of the day, Pac-Man is still just the same game we’ve seen a thousand times before on a thousand different platforms. Perhaps if Namco had included Ms. Pac-Man it would’ve been a worthwhile purchase.

However, with a freakishly high number of ports already available, (and the fact that Pac-Man is included as a mini-game in Ridge Racer 6 for the 360) it’s hard to tell someone it’s worth the money — even at only 400 Microsoft Points (translation: $5 USD, $6.40 CAD, £3.40, €4.65).

Pac-Man is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. This game can also be found on: Everything ever invented.

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About Jason Westhaver

  • I bought it because I had the Microsoft Points. But they could have made this a must-buy if they had add vs. over Xbox Live. Such a shame they didn’t.