Pac-Man World 2
Namco thought it was time to revive one of its oldest heroes into a new game and here we have it: Pac-Man World 2 on the PS2 is here to terrorise our free time again and even get our girlfriend to do some button-pounding on the otherwise hated console that takes up so much of the time we could have spent with her.
Pac-Man is without any doubt one of the oldest heroes of computerised entertainment. Even if I go waaaaaay back to my oldest memories as a nagging child, I can remember playing Pac-Man in the arcades, so reviving this franchise once again in a new form to compete with today’s 3D platform games isn’t such a bad idea of Namco. If they would make it technically competitive against today’s platform games like Ratchett&Clank or Sly Racoon, they would have the enormous advantage of the known brand behind it and a big chance of immediately claiming the market. Now let’s see what they really cooked up for the fruitgrabber.
Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde, the stupid but cudly ghosts one night are playing in Pac-land and find the beautiful tree with the golden fruits. The get the idea to steal the fruit and by doing so they liberate Evil Spooky, their leader, from his prison beneath the tree.
The next day, Pac-Man gets the word that Evil Spooky is liberated and that he will have to collect all golden fruit again to be able to defeat Spooky and save Pac-Land from disaster.
That’s about it for the storyline. Pretty straight-forward and simplistic but hey… what do you expect from a Namco platform game ?
Each level is built up in much the same way. You run around, jumping over wholes, bumping on crates or enemies and trying to not get into contact with ghosts unless you’ve just taken a power pill, until you reach the exit. Meanwhile you collect pills, power pills, fruit and tokens. In short: the standard platform stuff.
To make things a bit more interesting, collecting tokens will unlock older pac-man games for you to play in the “Arcade” which is located in the first level. Included in this arcade (and thus unlockable) are the original Pac-Man game, Ms. Pac-Man, Pac-Mania and Pac-Attack, the tetris-clone. Unfortunately, these older versions look even worse than they used to. Seems like Namco didn’t feel like making them completely compatible with the PS2 which is very regrettable.
Another, but less interesting, unlockable feature is the Museum where you can find old posters and such.
To give some more variation next to the platform jumping and the possibility to play in the Arcade (which has absolutely nothing to do with the main storyline), from time to time you’ll be taken into a maze where you’ll chop pills Pac-Mania style. The link with the main game is nowhere to be found, but it’s a nice variation if you’re a die-hard pac-man fan.
The graphics are like with most platformers very bright and colorful, creating a happy environment. Unfortunately that’s about all positive that can be said about the graphics.
There are practically no textures and those that are present look like they’ve come from a Commodore 64 rather than a PS2 game.
To continue the badness, the camera control could have been a lot better. I for instance don’t see the point of not being able to do a 360° turn at any time, do any of you ? Maybe I’m wrong here, but I believe there aren’t too many people out there that like to jump somewhere without knowing where they’ll end up. Same goes for when you’re using the “Rev Roll” where the camera goes right behind the character while you can take your time to aim. How the hell am I supposed to aim when I can barely see where I have to go ?
Pac-Man’s possibilities are not quite as little as you’d expect from a yellow ball, but not as big as most of today’s platform heroes either.
You can of course jump and run, but next to that you’ve got your double-bounce which allows you to crush enemies (except ghosts), and the aforementioned Rev Roll and a spin roll which allows you to tackle enemies while in mid-air.
Also swimming, walking on the floor of the water, in-line skating, ice-skating and playing with a submarine are amongst the possibilities, but each time you have to collect things for these option to be available.
Probably one of the most beautyful effects is the flying through thin air. There are certain switches that, if you activate them by bouncing on them, have you flying into thin air, going on a rampage of pill-sucking, turning in rounds like on a rollercoaster. Really neat to see the surroundings of the level in a different view and next to that only the rendered fruit which looks very realistic shows that the developers did make some effort to create this game.
You might wonder why I haven’t said anything about the sound yet. The reason for that is simple: it’s nothing special, luckily not too disturbing.
Pac-Man World 2 had great potential, but comes out to me as a way too standard platform game with its special features like the Arcade Hall being killed off by bad conversion of the old games. Don’t get me wrong, all in all, Pac-Man 2 isn’t a terrible game and platform lovers will still get a decent playtime without too much annoyances, but for the retail price there are much better and more original platformers out there.