Pac-Man Championship Edition 2, a downloadable arcade game in the Pac-Man series. It was developed by Bandai Namco Studios, and is a direct sequel to Pac-Man Championship Edition, making it an indirect follow-up of Pac-Man Championship Edition DX.
Its always a risky proposition to step forward on a curvy track with too much of added twists. Same with a beloved classic game, pac man. Change too much, and a reimagined retro game can lose its nostalgic charm. Don’t change enough, and players might lose the charm. Bandai Namco has been toeing this razor-thin line with Pac-Man for quite a few years, but with good results. In 2007, Pac-Man: Championship Edition bolstered the series’ simple maze template with different modes, challenges, map configurations, and eye-catching effects–and the result was one of the best arcade revamps ever made.
Fast-forward nine years, and Bandai Namco has successfully rejuvenated Pac-Man once again in Pac-Man: Championship Edition 2. It’s so overhauled, in fact, that it uses a progression meter to unlock new modes–starting with a tutorial. A tutorial? In Pac-Man? “Move the pac guy and eat the dots. Have fun.” is all, the tutorial such a game needs. But not only is there a tutorial–it’s a FORCED and UNNECESSARY 6min tutorial. Well, after you get accustomed to how the game works, you should end up understanding exactly what you need to do to navigate around the map while getting all of the pellets and ending right back where the fruit spawns to unlock the next maze.
And, as you eat those pellets, you’ll fill up a power pellet meter. Once that is filled up, you can eat that power-up and bring down the ghosts that you’ve been avoiding for big points.
Its nostalgic and familiar yet new and different. A lot of modes and change in set of rules.
There are more tweaks and features you could go into, but they are boring enough to play in the context of the tutorial.
Most notably, you’ll find 10 different game types/mode in the Score Attack menu alone. Each of those have three different tiers of complexity, and then the player can also mess around with a number of options for even more variation. This edition also has an Adventure Mode where players take on a series of challenges that lead into boss battles. The game’s design nudges you into getting to the most intense parts of the original — spinebreaker dot-munching with ghosts trailing after you — faster than ever before, and those moments are still far more heart-stopping-throbbing than any game about a yellow circle guy really has any right to be.
However, while the original Championship Edition introduced just the right amount of new spices to make it a Masterpiece, this follow-up, more like spin-off, stumbles in its excess by adding so many tweaks that it barely feels like Pac-Man anymore at times.
But for every cool addition, there are double the amount of new features that just feel like clutter. The chief example is the new ability to bounce off enemies a few times before they become aggro’d and kill you actively, goes against one of the core tenets that Pac-Man has been built on for decades: a single touch is lethal. The rules of how often you could tap an enemy without dying seemed murky because it’s based on an invisible timer between bumps, and that uncertainly added a level of randomness that stabbed the original game’s fantastic binary precision. There are also boss battles against giant ghosts that provide a spectacle, but just aren’t all that much fun.
The first Championship Edition was a triumph of style, and the same can be said here. The classic Pac-Man theme is present and accounted for–remixed and enhanced like everything else–and the overall presentation is terrific. All these elements come together across the game’s many levels to create an experience that’s still absolutely Pac-Man but advanced in ways that still make it far more interesting and strategic.
Pac-Man’s latest might fall a little short of its predecessors, then, and some of its design decisions are more than a little suspect, but it still makes it to the power pellet in time. Arcade ports tend to be games we play in short bursts–mostly for the nostalgia factor. Pac-Man: Championship Edition 2 certainly relies on that nostalgia to a point, but it handles the classic game in a way that plays with expectations to surprise you.
I had a good time with Pac-Man Championship Edition 2, even if it meant I had to wade through a lot of white noise to find it. For every excellent addition like being able to jump back to the start of a map, there are a few that aren’t as well thought out and feel more like limitations than tools for expanding your options. Figuring out the fast-paced puzzles based around all the new tweaks is still a good retro-arcade challenge, but it doesn’t come close to recapturing the magic of the first Championship Edition. It’s the same game enhanced in the right directions to be make an old concept fun, innovative, and challenging all over again with slight stride of a mistracked upgrade.