SDCC 2013 Preview: Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures
Pac-Man seems to be taking notes from Sonic and Mario with his newest outing, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures. Breaking away from the traditional Pac-formula, this title has players exploring a three-dimensional world of platforming and item collecting. We got a chance to check it out at this year's San Diego Comic-Con to see if Pac's wakkas were up to wakka.
If you're at all familiar with 3D platformers of the last decade you'll feel right at home with Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures. You run around scarfing up dots and throwing down against enemies -- in this case, ghosts. One of the first things you'll notice is how expressively animated everything is. The ghosts are of particular note, offering a fluidity of motion rivaling the Don Bluth era of animation. Like the platformers of old, Pac-Man can take three hits before calling it quits and can replenish his health by eating food. While most games would have you simply walk up to the food to acquire it, here you have to use a biting motion to eat it, and while the idea is fun, the biting motion is a little awkward to maneuver, so the execution is a bit lacking.
There are a variety of power-ups with which to arm Pac-Man, something most major video game mascots know a thing or two about. The chameleon suit grants invisibility, which drains Pac's special meter, and an acrobatic tongue move which you can use to maneuver through the level. If you take a hit, rather than taking true damage, you'll lose your special suit. Vanilla Pac-Man's not useless, though, as he can spook the ghosts to turn them into their edible, blue shadow-selves, complete with the classic Pac-Man sound effects. Outside of regular Pac-Man and Chameleon Pac-Man, several other power-ups appear throughout the game.
The platforming and combat both seem incredibly simplistic. You'll hop gently from platform to platform and take out the ghosties by chomping them after making Pac-Man spook 'em. However, this was a demo of an early stage in the game, so hopefully later stages will up the challenge to give players more of a mental workout. The music is a high point, with an energetic, orchestrated score reminiscent of some of Danny Elfman's peppier work. The story is pretty barebones -- badguy does bad stuff, kidnaps some goodguys, yadda yadda yadda -- but cutscenes are short and infrequent, and mostly serve to frame the action.
Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures may exist primarily as a tie-in to the new television program airing right now on Disney XD, but it still looks to be a solidly assembled, albeit simplistic, platformer with one of gaming's most iconic heroes.