Posted by Female Gamers on Jan 19, 2010
Pac-Man World 3 – Review

Pac-Man World 3 – Review

Post Rating

In the world of videogames it’s the Pac-Man franchise’s 25-year anniversary, and in Namco’s Pac-Man World 3 it’s also the little yellow hero’s birthday. Guess how old he is. Yes, he’s 25. At the beginning of the game, we find Pac-Man about to celebrate his birthday and tuck into a scrumptious-looking cake with Ms. Pac-Man, only to be mysteriously whisked out of Pac-village and into a strange new land. Pac-Man quickly discovers that Erwin, an evil genius (aren’t they always?—Ed) has created a machine that’s able to penetrate into the ghost world, which is better know as The Spectral Realm, and suck out its raw energy. Erwin has also abducted certain ghostly ‘friends’ of Pac-Man and now it’s his job to prevent The Spectral Realm from collapsing into the real world, defeat Erwin, save Inky & Binky, and form uneasy alliances with old foes.

From Pac-Man World 3’s opening rendered sequence that explains Pac-Man’s abrupt removal from his birthday celebrations, it’s clear that the game is not fashioned for ‘hardcore’ players. Its cute graphics, gentle story flow, and bouncy animation clearly define a demographic target that resides beneath the teenage boundary. More than anything else though, Pac-Man World 3 is never anything less than faithful to the iconic history laid down by quarter of a century of gaming influence. That means there’s plenty of opportunity for power pellet munching, ghost chomping, fruit collecting, and maze running via a fully 3D platform-based game world—there are even moments of retro fun to be had within each game level through 2D Pac-Man mini-games. Pac-Man World 3 also sees the unlikely inclusion of a ghostly squad-based element that has Pac-Man joining forces with Pinky and Clyde in order to save The Spectral Realm. At intermittent points during the game, Pac-Man is able to call upon either of the two willing ghosts and their specific abilities to help traverse certain areas or overcome tricky level challenges.

Graphically—beyond the cutesy rendered opening—Pac-Man World 3 performs satisfactorily amid a crowded 3D platform genre. The game characters are all instantly recognisable, and everyone from Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man down to the pesky spectral team members of Pinky and Clyde meets with expectations and remain as appealingly simple as when they were limited to 2D. Individual level designs are bright and colourful (specifically when in the ‘real’ world), but after a while they do tend to feel somewhat simplistic in structure. This is particularly true of those levels based in The Spectral Realm, which, while obviously removed from the real world and initially eerie, quickly become disappointingly repetitive. The visuals generally lack a sense of development polish, but this criticism can be levelled at most PlayStation 2 titles.

Game music is always subtle and well applied, befitting of environmental changes and also situational moments. However, there are one or two odd instances where level music inexplicably disappears once ghosts and other nasty creatures have been cleared and Pac-Man is merely busy searching for collectable goodies. This glitch tends to suppress Pac-Man World 3’s atmosphere and enforce a sense of ‘playing a game’ instead of promoting a sense of ‘gameplay’. Game sound also occasionally disappears during in-game cut scenes, which also damages immersion; thankfully though—and importantly for deaf gamers—full subtitles run throughout the game and convey the story with or without functioning sound. Sound effects are always faithful to the Pac-Man universe and carefully applied to invoke that welcome wandering of nostalgia, be that through the munch of power pellets, the ethereal chasing of ghosts, or the flashback authenticity of the 2D mini-games.

Gameplay is flowing and easy to grasp, though it rarely conjures up any genuine challenge. Puzzles generally involve nothing more complex than locating a key to reach a fresh area, and encountered ghosts, creatures, robots, etc, are all dealt with through handy power pellets that are always located near to the action. The power pellets themselves offer temporary power-ups to Pac-Man, which include an improved Butt Bounce (becoming a Super Stomp), Electro-Shock abilities, and also a Ribbon Loop action that allows Pac-Man to encircle enemies in an explosive ribbon of energy. Of course, as a platform game, there are plenty of environmental elements to bounce on, climb up, spin down, ricochet off, etc, and every animated action available to Pac-Man (or Pinky and Clyde) is simple to execute However, the easygoing and appealing nature of the gameplay is sullied somewhat by an unfriendly camera which, though it dutifully follows the action, occasionally gets locked behind foreground walls and obstacles while the player attempts to swing it into a better position. The camera is also intrusive when trying to garner a more useful view concerning high/low ledges, plateaus, etc, as it simply refuses to angle up or down and provide a decent free-view of the environment. This is particularly annoying when hunting through levels for collectable fruit or content-freeing Pac-Man statuettes.

Girl gamers won’t be at all surprised to note that Ms. Pac-Man only plays a minor peripheral role in proceedings, and Pac-Man himself is the centre of gameplay attention for most of the time. Pinky and Clyde do pop up sporadically, and Pinky is a spunky female ghost who can use her powers to reveal invisible platforms for Pac-Man and aid his progress. That said, she feels a little weak beside Pac-Man’s wealth of abilities, and her counterpart Clyde is also kitted out with a Sonic Boo and a Sonic Cannon.

Pac-Man World 3 isn’t a standout title, but it’s not a stinker either. It finds itself in that unusual grey area of quality where its moments of brightness are always dulled by its glitches and moments of detraction. A more considered challenge and improved innovation through inventive level design would have catapulted Pac-Man World 3 much further forward than where it actually is at present, and only players below their teens are likely to take anything more than pleasantly brief nostalgia from the game. It’s cute but shallow, effective but limiting, and involving but easy. A little more depth, a little more ambition, and a little more challenge, and Pac-Man World 3 could have been a really solid addition to the Pac-Man franchise. As it is, it’s a jaunty little 3D wander down memory lane that’s tarnished by discomforting instances of underachievement in almost every department.

Review by Stevie

Post a Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *