For something short and sweet, I’m going to make this review the same. It’s not for anything, but remakes are a dime-a-dozen these days, with more and more ambitious re-developments being shipped from multiple publishers and a variety of developers. One I did not expect to see revisited was PAC-MAN World, originally released in 1999 from Namco. The 3D platformer was heralded as one of the best on PlayStation, during the generation’s entrenched life-cycle with bountiful bangers consistently hitting the market. But PAC-MAN World presented players with a fresh take on the 3D Platformer, while retaining facets of its ilk from yesteryear – an idea that was effortlessly omitted and usurped by the preconceived modernised take on third-person action-adventure.
The notion to seamlessly swap between old-school to new school here was unseen, but warmly welcome by fans that were growing tired of the same old formula being dished out by developers. But PAC-MAN World was deemed fresh, bold and exciting. Fast-Forward to 2022, and we’re graced with PAC-MAN World Re-PAC, from Now Production and published by its original studio Bandai Namco. How does it hold up in comparison? Well this is where its age tends to show, and could be somewhat subjective and dependent on who’s playing it. Let me quickly begin this by saying, it’s not a bad game, but it’s nothing groundbreaking. If you’re looking for a nostalgia punch, or something for the kids to keep them busy for a few hours, this is a great pickup – but its price tag may leave a little ambivalence.
In terms of gameplay, PAC-MAN World Re-PAC takes the foundation of its original incarnation, and adds a some polish to its aged exterior. Taking our spherical protag around the bend is wondrous, but can be confounding due to aged level design constraints that were an issue for past generations, but could have been addressed and renewed here. While aesthetics are one thing, bland level design holds PAC-MAN World Re-PAC behind, and albeit a great ‘Crash Bandicoot clone’ for its time, it doesn’t quite match-up to its competitor’s remake and sequel. There is one thing PAC-MAN World Re-PAC does perfectly, and that is delivering a tactically purposeful nostalgia punch for its fans that adore the 1999 version.
Running, jumping, leaping, munching and exploring each level feel great, but lack of additional content that prolongs the title or gives it quality of life or replay value left me perturbed. I was not expecting to blaze through the entire campaign in less than five hours. The completionist in me tried to munch my way through the campaign again to find any extras that I may have missed, with a total playtime of seven hours. There are some welcome differences made that make for a smoother, more seamless experience overall, including the new HUD that now shows PAC-MAN’s health in form of wedges in the shape of his body. Mega PAC-MAN which is akin to his form in PAC-MANIA, allows PAC-MAN to grow and expeditiously eat ghosts.
Metal enemies are impervious to PAC-MAN’s regular form, where the player must seek the Steel-Ball power-up to change PAC-MAN into Metal PAC-MAN, much like Metal Mario from Super Mario 64. Some routine changes are made boss battles, to elongate the encounter but nothing that makes it anything completely different. I did find it oddly hilarious that you can complete the game without having to save the entire PAC-Family, whereas the original had mandatory conditions in order to complete the title. If anything, it would be more inviting to recourse the entire campaign in order to retrieve a family member to complete the game – or at least give purpose to finishing the campaign without 100% completion.
A fun family game, a blast from the past and unquestionably one for the kids to jump into, especially those that are looking to learn about their parents as gamers.
While the game isn’t necessarily difficult, an Easy Mode allows a younger audience to play the title with ‘Easy Blocks’ scattered across multiple hazards and impediments. It’s great way to sell the title as an entry point for young gamers that have yet to experience titles the likes of Crash Bandicoot and Super Mario 3D World. The great thing about PAC-MAN World Re-PAC is that it’s accessible, with a simplistic formula in gameplay and level design. Checkpoints are appropriately placed for a timely playthrough without exacerbating any monotony that may set in for repetitiveness, and its vast array of minions are easy to overcome. With minimal structure changes made to maps, it will be a cakewalk for the experienced and an exciting escapade for its younger target audience.
What's Old, is Kinda New?…
✔️ Accessible Gameplay; perfect entry point for a young and inexperienced gamer.
✔️ A nostalgia punch for fans of the 1999 original on PS1.
✔️ Some insanely gorgeous aesthetical upgrades.
❌ Cumbersome maps and aged mechanics.
❌ Nothing revolutionary in the 3D Platforming category.
It goes without saying that remaking or remastering a title does have a certain level of expectancy in polishing its rusty mechanics. PAC-MAN World Re-PAC does that, then some. The introduction of the butt-stomp – once again akin to Super Mario 3D World – gives the player new environmental features to interactive with like crates and barrels; I wonder where you may have seen either of those from? The features also poses physics that can aid PAC-MAN to higher ground as he will bounce off the surface, and leap higher than a standard jump. This does give our protagonist more range to explore some added secrets in Re-PAC.
PAC-MAN may also charge his dash, akin to Sonic the Hedgehog and run through a myriad of enemies like a bowling ball to pins. The use of the charging feature also activates platforms that need to be propelled by running on them like in a treadmill-like manner. Level bosses are designed quite well in that they don’t feel like a total slog and leave you feeling rewarded. Different maze designs in the game range from the classic arcade PAC-MAN map to a modernised 3D aesthetic that gives the player a chance to collect and defeat swarms of ghosts in one swoop while collecting pellets across each map.
Aethstically speaking, the game looks awesome. A colourful aesthetic pushes the zaniness of its campaign, embellishing on the our friendly chomper’s embarkment across a looming world, packed to the brim with unfamiliar enemies and uncharted territories. But to say that PAC-MAN World has aged like a fine wine would be an overstatement, nor has it aged like milk. More-or-less, the title sits in the range of being the perfect one-and-done, without overcomplicating any replayability, but its also what exposes the remake’s flaw. Without any need to return to PAC-MAN World Re-PAC after its completion, it essentially sits there as a memory, but one that’s unequivocally forgettable without actually demanding anything from the player.
It’s hard to gauge where PAC-MAN World Re-PAC sits in terms of its real target audience, whether it be for nostalgia or kids. But either way, it possesses a premium feel with some unfortunately aged ideas that will leave fans wanting more from this game. You won’t be disappointed, but left questioning why the title needed to be revived? PAC-MAN World Re-PAC is still worth the round-trip into this wonderfully charming adventure to save the day, rescue the family of PAC’s and most definitely take in the unbelievably gorgeous and unexpected detail in both scenery and boss design. A fun family game, a blast from the past and unquestionably one for the kids to jump into, especially those that are looking to learn about their parents as gamers.
Pac-Man World is a 1999 3D platform video game developed and published for the PlayStation by Namco. Controlling Pac-Man, the player must complete each of the game’s six worlds, featuring five stages each.