E3 2013: Pac-Man
Posted on Friday June 14, 2013, 12:00 by Matt Kamen in Infinite Lives
Pac-Man celebrated his 33rd birthday in May. Pause on that for a second and come back when you feel suitably old.
While 33 isn’t a particularly special anniversary, Namco Bandai are celebrating anyway, injecting some life into their mascot character and refreshing him for a new generation while maintaining appeal for the hardcore, oldschool fans.
Pac-Man Museum, due for current gen consoles later this year, packages a compilation of Pac-Man games together. Yes, there are more than just the original and Ms. Pac-Man. It also includes newly created modes such as Battle Royale (where multiple Pac-Men try to grow large enough to eat rivals), a Snake-like mode where you build a growing chain of ghosts until you chomp down on a power pill and gobble them all for a huge score boost, and a reflex-testing challenge where the maze layout shifts around you. There’s also a retro, fan-pleasing tweak that skins the core game with other classic titles such as Dig Dug. It’s clearly aimed at the score-obsessed player, and includes a host of bragging features, including score posting to Facebook. It will also be the first Pac-Man game released through Steam – a small hallmark, but a hallmark nontheless.
For the kids, the new Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures reimagines the yellow pill popper as a sort of planetary superhero fighting off aliens, ghosts and (seemingly) alien ghosts by, well, eating them. It ties in with a CG animated series airing on Disney XD in the US and Sky in the UK. The show itself skews for the 4-11 age bracket and champions a goofy brand of slapstick humour, but it seems entertaining enough to please the kiddie set.
The game adaptation, launching this Autumn on PS3 and 360, is a 3D platformer, adapting the iconography of the classic games – power pellets, fruits, that wakka-wakka-wakka sound effect – to a more modern setting. For even younger kids, a 3DS version presents a 2D side-scrolling platformer staring the redesigned characters that is explicitly intended to be even easier. We’d be amazed if there’s anything to appeal directly to older fans, but it should prove a safe introduction to gaming for children and potentially a great bonding point for the nostalgia-focused parent.