He’s been gobbling ghosts up for decades now and even gone toe to toe (and fist to fist) with the likes of Mario, Sonic and Donkey Kong in Super Smash Bros. but there was a point where the spherical hero ventured out on his very own 3D platforming adventures too. Three of them in fact. Pac-Man World Re-Pac is an update of the first in the trilogy of ‘World’ titles and a great chance for newcomers to sample Bandai Namco Entertainment‘s platformer with a fresh lick of paint and a few updates. Is it enough to bring this 2000 release in line with the genre nowadays though?
Pac-Man is trying to celebrate his birthday with friends and family only to have the entire Pac-Fam kidnapped by a ghostly crew and taken to their hideout on Ghost Island. Like any true platforming hero, he sets out in pursuit to save his friends and take down the evil Toc-Man. His adventure will take him through six unique worlds each with a handful of platforming levels and capped off in a boss battle.
Levels themselves are fairly linear (think Crash Bandicoot or Super Mario 3D World) leading players through an assault course of obstacles often side to side with the occasional bit of movement toward or away from the camera. Stage design is okay enough with levels certainly having unique ideas injected here and there, however never did I find myself truly excited by what I was seeing. While other games like the 3D Super Mario Odyssey or the 2D Rayman Legends continue to surprise and amaze with every new world explored, here things feel far more serviceable. Sure, I was never bored per se, oftentimes genuinely enjoying myself, but my general sentiment also never pointed much beyond a feeling of ‘okay this is fine.’
Every level is littered with items to collect. Fruit offers bonus points, coins a chance at a 1-up rewarding slot machine, the six letters of Pac-Man when gathered take you to a post-level bonus stage and so on. Of course, the series’ Pac-Dots and Power Pellets make an appearance the former acting as ammunition to throw at enemies whilst the latter a chance to grow in size and chomp away at otherwise invincible ghosts. Perhaps best of all though, are the hidden mazes, levels that play like traditional Pac-Man with a number of different obstacles to mix things up. These are nice call-back to the series origins and can be replayed whenever you like once unlocked.
One thing I would notice repeatedly is the game’s insistence on using the same tricks when it came to hiding its secrets. Constantly you’ll pass doors locking away collectables only opened when you’ve grabbed a certain fruit a little further ahead in the level. This meant a lot of backtracking smaller sections, a task that left me wondering if I should keep going or simply ignore them after a couple of worlds. Other linear 3D adventures like the recent Kirby: The Forgotten Land prove secrets can be tucked away for the player to uncover and here it comes across as rather uninspired.
Pac-Man’s movements can feel a little rigid at times while I also found the occasional moment of frustration with some questionable responses from my jumping commands. Pac-Man has a few moves at his disposal including the ability to butt stomp, hover jump, throw Pac-Dots and sort of spin dash Sonic-style although some have more use and reliability than others. Throwing Pac-Dots, for example, is an option I rarely if ever used with enemies easily and often defeated with a simple butt stomp while the dash ability felt a little unreliable, especially on ramps over long jumps where I’d find myself coming up short. Still, while it might lack the polish seen in other examples of the genre, the game is perfectly playable minor frustrations and all.
Pac-Man World Re-Pac is a pleasant-looking game, the characters animating nicely and the six worlds distinct in appearance whilst also avoiding the typical stereotypes. Pirates, circuses and space make a nice change from the typical grasslands, deserts and forests that’s for sure. Music too is upbeat and jolly without bordering into sickly territory. All in all, I found myself enjoying the look and presentation of the game; a fine update indeed.
Pac-Man World Re-Pac is a decent little platformer albeit a rather straightforward one. Its combination of old-school Pac-Man grid-based gameplay and linear but varied worlds are entertaining enough to get you through its 10 or so hour adventure, but the rather plain level design and occasionally clunky movement also reveal a game limited by its original PlayStation roots.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by Bandai Namco Entertainment