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Xbox Live Arcade Review: Pac-Man Championship Edition DX

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At some point or another everybody has played some incarnation of Pac-Man. Personally, my experience with the yellow ghost gobbler began with my old Atari 2600. Throughout the years I’ve picked up the occasional new release to see what Namco had done with the franchise, however, none of the incarnations have been as insane as Pac-Man Championship Edition DX.

Let it be said that Championship Edition DX is not your father’s Pac-Man. This game is a white-knuckled rendition of a classic franchise that tests hand/eye coordination in ways that few games on the market can. The “Deluxe” follow-up to 2007’s Championship Edition, DX introduces nine maps and a slew of modes for each. It also bumps up the number of ghosts on the screen and equips Pac-Man with bombs to help escape death.

The goal is quite simple, really. Each stage is broken down into a variety of modes that include Score Attack (5 and 10 minutes), Time Trials, and Ghost Combos. The meat and potatoes of this game is to get your name higher on the leaderboard. It’s a competitive atmosphere within the game, even though it’s single player; and it’s addicting as hell. Players will find themselves playing and replaying maps and modes just to edge out their friends and rank higher among other players online.

The core gameplay is still the same as it ever was. Pac-Man begins a stage and runs around eating pellets while avoiding ghosts along the way. When he comes across a power pellet he gets the ability to eat those pesky ghosts that have been chasing him. That’s pretty much the entire game in a nutshell. What Championship Edition DX adds to the pot is a slew of sleeping ghosts that awaken after Pac-Man runs by them. This snowballs into an army of Pac-hungry ghosts that chase players down as they navigate tight corridors and eat pellets. There’s a strategy to this though.

By collecting a large amount of ghostly followers, when it comes time to snack on a power pellet, the chain of points is downright massive. As players consecutively munch on ghosts the multiplier adds up and shoots the score through the roof. It’s an essential part of gameplay since pellets only net so many points. If you find yourself in a bit of a bind with no power pellet around, there’s always the bomb option, which is limited in use, but sends all chasing ghosts back to the middle of the map.

As players work their way through the various modes and maps in Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, more things unlock. The game does a nice job of easing players into the challenge and for the most part the gameplay is really set up to allow players the freedom to collect pellets and eat ghosts, without much fear of dying; at least, not in Normal and Beginner. Expert difficult ramps up the challenge quite a bit and restricts bomb usage, while the others are more forgiving.

Ultimately Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is a blast. The game has a lot going for it in the quality department, but I think the best thing one can say for the title is that it’s a great blend of the nostalgic and new. Anyone that has ever dropped a quarter to play the original Pac-Man will want to download this game. It’s simply awesome and totally addicting.

The graphic style in Pac-Man Championship Edition DX really brings the franchise into the modern age. Players can select which skin they like and while all are simplistic, in motion they can be downright gorgeous. There’s a design akin to the original game, a version with 3-D graphics, and a super-colored explosion similar to Geometry Wars. It’s incredible what simple designs and sharp aesthetics can pull off when in the hands of a smart development team.

As far as the audio is concerned, the game also brings back old memories of playing the original. Iconic sound effects and tunes are what you’re going to find here. As with everything else in the game, this one kicks it up a notch. The techno beats increase and decrease based on what’s happening at that moment, and when the seconds tick down or Pac-Man gets close to death, the sound design really adds to the atmosphere.

Available on the Xbox 360 Live Arcade, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is entirely worth the $10 download. The game has a ton going for it, and it’s something that encourages the competitive spirit in all of us. Check it out; you won’t be disappointed.

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB. This game is also available for PlayStation 3.

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