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Nothing like the original, Pac-Man chomps his way to mediocrity in Ghostly Adventures


A scene from Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures Enlarge

Pac-Man is a classic video game and one of the best. Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is a cartoon based on the video game. Then there's Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, a video game, from Namco Bandai that is based on the TV show. See how we have come full circle? A video game based on a TV show that is based on a video game.

It's laughable and is the reason Ghostly Adventures will likely receive a lot of negative criticism.

Let's make this simple. Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, the game, is nothing like the original and it will not become a favorite of Pac-Man fans. It is a companion to the TV show and plays like it. Gone are the days of chomping dots in a frantic race around neon mazes. No more cutting corners with split-second precision in order to skirt the clutches of a ghostly pursuer. Ghostly Adventures plays more like a third-person action game than a platformer, and more closely resembles the style of Mario or Sonic. Yet it does nothing to raise the bar and maybe even lowers it a bit.

Mario collects coins, Sonic rings, and Pac-Man collects... that's right, dots. Not original but it essentially plays the same as the others. There are more collectibles such as cherries, pineapples and other fruit that will unlock mini-games, allowing Pac to showcase his new TV show and piloting skills in the Cherry Copter or the Pineapple Tank. These vehicles are only one part of the show that made the transition to the gaming grid. Pac's pals Cylindria and Spiral are there as well as a bunch of other characters I've never heard of. That's the point. Everything about this game is related to the TV show, not the original game.

Mario and Sonic have power-up abilities, and so must Pac. The game is designed to not just offer the power-ups, like the other two, but it relies on them to finish most levels. For instance, without the Ice Pac suit you can't freeze the fountain which is necessary to continue the level. You also can't defeat a particular flaming ghost who is impervious to your chomp unless he is iced first. Different abilities are suited for different areas.

The rather mundane story follows the TV show which, as expected, plays to a young demographic. It's an animation after all. Essentially Pac-Man is the last of his yellow-ball kind, The Last Pacworlder as it were. Which apparently means this is pre Mrs. Pac-Man, as he is back in high school. Not sure about the timing, but let's not digress here. Pac and his friends must defend PacWorld from the ghosts, ghouls, and goblins that have escaped the Netherworld and are blazing through PacWorld leaving behind a city in chaos. So Pac and his friends Cylindria and Spiral are all that stand in the way of the evil Betrayus and his ghostly horde.

The game is fairly challenging and not devoid of fun light-hearted moments. But it does nothing for the namesake and unfortunately for the true Pac-Maniacs out there, Pac indeed is back, as the slogan goes, it's just not the Pac-Man you may have fallen in love with back in the day. There is no semblance of that ghostly pleasure of old.

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures plays a lot like a Mario Bros. wannabe and it mostly fails to make an impact in that genre. It's a copycat, a doppelganger like too many others. It's understandable that the old platform does little that would pair well with the TV show and so adjustments had to be made. But if you must abandon your home turf to chew grass in another man's backyard, you’d better bring your big-boy chompers. Ghostly Adventures is virtually toothless.

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