Easily one of my favourite experiences on Xbox Live Arcade was the first game to not only get what Pac-Man is, but remix it to a point where the entire experience is brand new and incredibly exciting. Also, neon. Lots of neon.
The Pac-Man Championship Edition series kicked the little pac dude into overdrive, turning the standard concept of eating ghosts into a super fast, multiplier combo heaven that emphasised eating as much as you can, as opposed to just clearing a level one at a time. DX+ was the best of the originals, adding a ton of different game types and puzzles along with plenty of different skins in remembrance of almost every Pac-Man generation. The only game to come close (incredibly close) to capturing that kind of originality in the franchise as a whole is the well received Pac-Man 256, but now the championship is back and with a whole raft of changes.
The first and most important change to the previous entries in the reboot series is how you eat ghosts. Originally, every time you zoomed past either a sleeping or moving ghost, they would chase you around the board. The main aim, in order to hit a high score, would be to clear the board of the smaller pellets until the larger pac-pellet appears, turning around into all the ghosts behind you and chomping down in a mad and satisfying munch off. In Championship 2, you now have to chase the ghosts in order to chain them together for your high score, which might thrown off a few players who are used to the original remix but it does reflect the original Pac-Man style a little more. Having said that, it looks as though you might not die as often as before, with some ghosts just bouncing off of you if you run into them (just don’t do it too often).
There’s also a bunch of new game types, rules and graphical styles, plus boss battles … but not sure what I think of that just yet. I’ll let you know when I get my hands on it shortly. I’m just glad it’s back. I loved the originals so much, and I guess you can call myself a Pac-Man fan, so to have a whole bunch of new game modes to play around with is very exciting. You could say this is the strongest year for Pac-Man in a long time, given Namco’s trust in new ideas and outside developers of late.
You can find Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 on Xbox One, PS4 and PC via Steam.
Mark Isaacson is the editor of PN2. Go say hi on Twitter @Mark_D_Isaacson.