Only a few months ago we reviewed Pac-Man Museum + on these pages, yet another collection dedicated to the historical titles of the yellow ball; on that occasion we complained that Bandai Namco was continuing to ignore a part of Pac-Man’s history, the one in three dimensions, when the historic mascot was trying to find a new identity in an incredibly different videogame landscape from the one in which she was born.
Pac-Man World Re-Pac
Platform: PC, PS4, PS5, SWITCH, XONE, XSX Genre: platform Release date: August 26, 2022 Developer: Now Production Distributor: Bandai Namco
We obviously didn’t know that Bandai Namco would announce shortly thereafter Pac-Man World Re-Pacremake of the first episode of the Pac-Man World trilogy to be released on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X | S, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch And PC.
This remake, developed by Now Production, aims to polish the classic released on the first PlayStation to deliver it to a new generation of gamers, since the game was no longer released in other forms (if we exclude its arrival on the PlayStation Store. at the time of PlayStation 3).
Will the game hold the weight of the years? Let’s find out together.
A birthday party gone bad
The story of Pac-Man World Re-Pac (Re-Pac only from now on) is very simple. Preparations for the Pac-Man’s twentieth birthday (in fact, when the original game came out in 1999, that milestone was approaching considering the mascot was born in 1980), but the evil Toc-Man has a plan in mind to screw it up.
Thanks to the help of his minions, the ghosts who have always haunted Pac-Man, Toc-Man manages to kidnap all members of Pac-Man’s family. It will then be up to our hero to embark on an adventure to save his family, to then return to celebrate his birthday with his loved ones (if you want to do it too you can recover some collections of historical titles, available on Amazon).
The story is substantially faithful to that seen in the original; just a few details in the cut-scenes are changed (for example the way family members are kidnapped), but the rest have not changed.
Obviously, the plot is nothing more than a pretext to send Pac-Man on an adventure; However, we take this opportunity to note that all the characters have changed name and design than the original title. This is not only due to the stylistic change that occurred for the series from 1999 to now.
For some time now, in fact, Bandai Namco has begun to remove all references to Ms. Pac-Man from its games, replacing her with Pac-Mom, a completely new character.
Bandai Namco has never officially ruled on the matter, but some reconstructions indicate that the reason for the replacement lies in the complex legal situation of the character’s rights.
Toc-Man has other plans for Pac-Man’s birthday party.
Strangely, however, the other characters present have also been replaced by others: to remain the same there are only the protagonist Pac-Man and the Professor.
Obviously this is a marginal detail, but it was worth pointing out this curiosity.
Returning to the game, this remake is almost exclusively a graphic makeover, with few changes in terms of gameplay (as we will see). The efforts of the developers, therefore, have all focused on the technical side, and the result is visible.
The game was rebuilt from scratch, and now its colors vibrate brighter than ever. While respecting the original artistic direction, Re-Pac manages to give a new life to the classic historian. Our test took place on PlayStation 5: certainly thanks to the rather contained nature of the levels, we have not noticed any smudging whatsoever, and we are sure that it will be the same for all the other versions.
For the soundtrack, however, the sensations are more contrasting. On the one hand, back there good original soundtrackmade of catchy tunes that will stay in the lead level after level; on the other hand, however, the sound quality is not always excellent, and in some levels one almost gets the impression that the songs have not been reworked to reconstruct the original audio quality.
We will have to overcome numerous obstacles to save Pac-Man’s family.
Pac-Man conquering the three dimensions
As we have already mentioned, this Re-Pac is a remake that slavishly follows the original title; no changes of any kind have been made to the gameplay, let alone structural changes. The game, therefore, is in all respects (or almost) identical to the 1999 title.
It is basically a 3D platformer, the first in the history of Pac-Man. Structurally it’s more like Crash Bandicoot, in the sense that it’s simply going from point A to point B on a linear level, collecting items along the way.
The structure of the game, to be honest, is closer to that of a 2D platformer; for most of the time, in fact, we will find ourselves playing in two-dimensional situationsand the depth will only be used occasionally during the levels.
Compared to its historical titles, Pac-Man obviously comes with new moves: can jump, can perform a bounce that can make him reach higher points, and can use a run-up to launch himself by rolling on the ramps arranged in the levels. Of course, these moves can also be used to defeat the handfuls of enemies present in each level.
As a rule, the levels are quite simple. It is, as we said, moving from beginning to end, but there are several moments in which we will be called to explore the surrounding environment more in depth. In fact, in every level there are several collectible items.
The first are certainly the fruits: we will find them scattered in the level, often inside chests to be broken. They will contribute to our end-of-level score, but will also serve to open some cages scattered throughout the levels. In these cages we will be able to find other fruits, switches or bonus levels in the form of mazes.
Finding these mazes will immediately transport us to them, and there it will be like playing a game of classic Pac-Man, only with a 3D maze visually inspired by the world we are in. This is a nice way to break the rhythm of the platformer, which we liked in the original and which we also appreciate here.
We will find several tributes to the origins of the character.
Scattered in the level we will also find some letters, which once collected will form the name of Pac-Man and will grant us access to a bonus level once the main level is finished. This is a way to increase your end-of-level score even more, thanks to the numerous fruits present in these bonus sections.
Otherwise, the levels are fairly linear. There are enemies to be defeated, but they will never require particular effort; there are also some basic environmental puzzles, so we will have to figure out how to reach a certain point of the level (usually where a collectible is hidden).
Each world consists of three levelsafter that we can proceed to the next world through the main hub. Obviously not before having defeated the classic end-of-world boss.
The boss fight are probably one of the most successful aspects of the original title as well. Although none of them remain particularly impressed, they all manage to entertain and give the right sense of challenge, which is not to be taken for granted in a platform of the 90s.
Each world has a different aesthetic, and will bring with it new enemies and new obstacles; no new gameplay mechanics are ever introduced, however, and the game remains essentially the same throughout the six hours it takes to complete.
While not a particularly complex game, the more advanced levels of Re-Pac could still be a challenge, especially for younger players. Precisely for this reason a easy modewhich will grant various aids for novices (such as a longer float in the air and a smaller amount of life for the bosses).
And we are already taking stock of this Pac-Man World Re-Pac. It is a 90s 3D platformer very simplewithout claiming to be such a cornerstone; if you manage to go beyond this simplicity you will find a colorful and fun platformer, able to entertain both veterans and the youngest.
This remake doesn’t change the cards on the tablebut it refreshes the game graphically, delivering an incredibly improved version compared to the original, with some tweaks to the small imperfections in the controls present there.
Considering that the original game was no longer available for a very long time and that nowadays the releases of this genre are scarce, we would like to recommend this Pac-Man World Re-Pac to all fans (so run and make it yours on Amazon ).
Our hope is that Bandai Namco is convinced to continue on this path, bringing us a remake of the second chapterprobably the best of the entire trilogy, where the potential of 3D was actually used. As for Pac-Man World 3 and Pac-Man World Rally (yes, there was that too), let’s just say we wouldn’t miss them.
Version reviewed: PS5