Sunday, 18 May 2014

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures review

I really like Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures. Like, I really like it. Not the game, but the cartoon show. It's bright, colorful, lighthearted, funny, and immensely creative. And considering that the show is based on a game series, it's pretty obvious that a game was going to be made eventually.

Story - 4/10: The story plays out like an extended episode of the show. No big problems, no big reveals that you'd expect a game version of a show to have, and, most surprisingly, not even the voice cast of the show, making some of the best characters, like Clyde and Emperor Betrayus, sound off and out of character.

The story begins with the Betrayus' ghost army attacking Pac-World, which Pac-Man stops. Unfortunately, the ghosts make off with a giant freeze ray, which Betrayus plans to use for a nefarious (And rather underwhelming) evil plan. The story progresses via in-game cutscenes, usually with Pac-Man talking to other characters. The story overall is very "eh", and really doesn't go anywhere beyond the confines of a television show episode.

Gameplay - 7/10: This game is oddly nostalgic for me, even though it only came out last year. The reason why it's so nostalgic is that it's an example of the nowadays rare "3D mascot platformer" genre, which is one of my favorite video game genres period. Ghostly Adventures manages to have some of the smoothest controls in any 3D platformers I've played, which is a very high honor. It never feels like you aren't in control of Pac, and his jumping is incredibly smooth, making the large amounts of jumping puzzles good.

This is actually the very first 3D Pac-Man game to make Pac's big mouth his main weapon, which means that he has to eat for the main combat mechanic. Pac can chain ghosts together, which doesn't do much, but it does look cool when Pac eats a ghost in slow motion. Pac can also scare the ghosts with his special Boo ability. This move turns the ghosts into familiar blue from, making them incapable of attacking and easier to munch on.

Pac can also gain new abilities by eating Power Berries, of which there are 8 total, and only one real stinker in the lot. I'll go over them quickly. Ice-Pac can freeze ghosts solid and allow Fire Ghosts to be eaten. Chameleon-Pac has a long tongue which he can use to swing from poles, and the ability to turn invisible, which allows Pac to sneak past enemies. Fire-Pac can throw fire balls, instantly destroying most ghosts without getting near them, and can melt Ice Ghosts, allowing them to be eaten.  Ball-Pac is one of the best powers in the game, which turns Pac-Man into a giant stone ball, allowing him to roll over ghosts and go off ramps and be shot out of cannons.

Rubber-Pac turns Pac into a rubber ball, allowing him to jump high and wall jump. Balloon-Pac turns Pac into a large balloon, and is the only power that's really a stinker, as it just allows Pac to fly  for a bit, and is very awkward to control. Metal-Pac is by far my favorite power, as it allows for interestig 2D sections, and allows Pac to suck in ghosts with his magnet tongue. Spin-Pac is the last ability you get, which turns Pac into a spinning top, and allows him to draw a line and zoom across any surface instantly. All of these abilities are well done, and mostly used well, with the exception of Spin-Pac, which is introduced too late to make any use of it.

Since Pac is going up against an army of ghosts, there are a good amount of enemies in the game, with each ghost being color coded to a specific power. Pink ghosts charge at you, blue ghosts spit goo at you, orange ghosts spin, and green ghosts leave a trail of slime. There are other larger enemies, like the cyclops and a guardian ghosts, but those are incredibly rare to see, and are really only slightly harder to beat.

Boss fights are are strangely memorable, if incredibly easy. You'll find yourself on top of giant barbeque having to eat a 3 course meal to fend off a chef ghost, destroying a giant statue monster by slamming giant boulders into it's teeth, and fighting a dragon cyclops by freezing it's projectiles. However, the two levels that are dedicated to boss fights wind up being incredibly easy and fairly unmemorable, with the final boss being the easiest and least memorable out of the bunch.

There are also a nice amount of collectible things. There are the Globe Energy pellets, which are yellow orbs of energy that float around the levels (Ha ha, get it?). They aren't used for much, but they do unlock new worlds when enough of them are collected. There are Ghost Eyes, which you get from simply eating ghosts. Getting 100 of them nets you an extra life, and each ghost gives you two, so thats 1 extra life for every 50 ghosts. There are the rare Slimetanium drops that you can use to increase Pac's health. There are tokens, which allow you to play arcade minigames. Finally, there are fruit, which are the end of level goals. Collecting all of a certain type of fruit will unlock one of the aforementioned minigames.

The problem with the collectibles is that once you beat all the levels, you've done everything. And that's a big complaint, the game's length. In total, it clocks in at around 5 or 6 hours, which is very short, even for a budget mascot platformer.

Graphics - 7/10: The game has about 22 levels, scattered through 6 worlds. Each world looks fairly different, from cities to the underworld, to ancient temples, though worlds 1 and 3 do get reused, albeit with very different looks the second time around. Each world is very well detailed, and some of them downright beautiful in places, but they all wind up reusing elements, and there are no interesting set pieces in most of the levels to really differentiate any of them from each other.

Character models are also a problem, with most of them having weird robot mouths and stiff, awkward movements. Pac-Man, however, is very well animated and is by far the best model in the game, with him having several different jumping animations. The transformations are also good looking, with each one looking unique and distinctive from each other, although Rubber-Pac and Spin-Pac are basically the regular Pac-Man model with drastic changes.

Overall - 7/10: Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is a game purely made for fans of the TV show, but even then, its obviously had a lot of effort put into it. I may be treating the game so nice simply because it reminds me of an era gone by, and that in turn makes me feel nostalgic.

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