Pac-Man in 2013

As the comedian Marcus Brigstocke once joked, “if Pac-Man had affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in dark rooms, munching pills and listening to repetitive electronic music“. It was a long while ago when Pac-Man Fever first spread across the globe, and in fact it’s been thirty-three years since he was introduced to arcades and became a cultural phenomenon With a character this old and this revered, it’s tough to know where to go next and, like a reversed Christmas Carol scenario, this year Namco Bandai are intent on celebrating the Pac-Man of past, present and future, and at E3 I was told how they planned on achieving such a feat.

Pac Man Museum
Winter 2013
With such a long and storied history behind him, it’s only understandable that some people weren’t there to witness every moment. Never fear, because part one of Namco Bandai’s assault comes in the form of Pac-Man Museum; a collection of the best of Pac-Man throughout his three-decade career, celebrating his best titles from the eighties all the way to 2010.

Though not all of the titles have been revealed thus far, the two that were specifically name-dropped were the original Pac-Man that set arcades ablaze all those years ago, as well as Pac-Man Battle Royale, making its first-ever appearance on home consoles, having previously only been available in arcades. Allowing up to four players to take part, Battle Royale sees the differently-coloured Pac-people attempt to set the highest score and come out superior by either eating their opponents or letting them be eaten by the roaming ghosts. Those playing by themselves will see themselves having to fend off AI-controlled Pac-Men as well as the ghosts, but every match consists of three to nine rounds, allowing for some potentially-close fights when the maximum number of players are involved.

Set to be released this winter on the Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network, Nintendo eShop and Steam, Pac-Man Museum should hopefully be a wonderful piece of nostalgia that will remind players young and old just what makes the iconic character so special.

Pac-Man Championship Edition Deluxe Plus
When Pac-Man was reinvented and re-released in a Championship Edition back in 2007, it may have seen a small amount of success, but it was the follow-up released at the tail-end of 2010 that saw the most acclaim; Pac-Man Championship Edition Deluxe – or Pac-Man CEDX for short – was a critical blockbuster, with a Metacritic ranking sitting pretty at over ninety percent.

Breathing new life into a formula three decades old is no mean feat, and that CEDX saw such success is a testament to both how iconic and addictive the original was, as well as just how easy it was to iterate and provide something players just couldn’t put down all over again. Later this year Namco Bandai are planning on improving the formula even more with the tongue-twisting Pac-Man Championship Edition Deluxe Plus – or Pac-Man CEDX+ for short – aiming to make players lose their lives to the compulsive ghost-muncher all over again, as well as cause horrendous discomfort to anyone dared to say its name five times in a row.

So what does CEDX+ bring to the table that the previous editions were lacking? For one, it adds a new litany of achievements and trophies for those who’ve conquered everything else there was to do in CEDX as well as a new medal system that will give players something new to aim for. On top of this, they’re also improving the leader-boards and allowing you to track your own personal records to better hone your skills, as well as something a little more social. When it’s released this Summer, you’ll now be able to connect your copy of Pac-Man to Facebook, allowing you to connect with other friends who own it and challenge them to beat your scores.

Finally, players will get access to some more DLC maps, which take on the theme of classic Namco adventures including Dig-Dug and Rally-X, changing the Pac-Man avatar and the background music to better mimic these other arcade classics. One of these upcoming maps will be based on the new TV show and the next game in the series – Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures – updating his look to that of the show’s and allowing for a cheeky little bit of promotional crossover into the mix.

These DLC maps will need to be paid for in order to play, but to anyone who already owns a copy of Championship Edition Deluxe will be able to upgrade to CEDX+ completely free of charge. As well as this, while Deluxe was only available on PC as a Windows 8 exclusive, when Plus arrives it’ll also be available for Steam, allowing those who haven’t upgraded a chance to get in on the magic. With this free upgrade hitting later in the Summer, it’ll make even better what was already considered the ultimate in Pac-Man.

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures
Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC, Wii U, 3DS
Fall 2013
With the past and present out of the way, it’s time to look to the future of Pac-Man, and in doing so we also need to look towards that ever-precious commodity known as “the children”. Thirty years of swallowing down ghosts in mazes is a long time on the job, and though he’s considered a cultural icon he’s not necessarily one that many of the youngsters are going to be familiar with. This in mind, Namco have sought to reinvent the pill-munching menace in an attempt to make him relevant to a younger audience, and to this end have created a new 3D-animated television show known as “Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures”.

Attempting to tell his back-story as a legendary hero, the series follows Pac-Man in his teenage years as he teams up with his high-school friends and attempts to save the Pac-World from the ever-present threat of the Pac-eating ghosts. Presented in stereoscopic 3D – and coming with its own line of merchandise and toys – the series will consist of twenty-six episodes, the first of which premièred shortly after the end of this year’s E3.

Before people check the top of the page to see if we’ve suddenly become TVLives, the reason this is all important is because later in the year Namco Bandai are preparing to release two videogame tie-ins to the series in time for Christmas. The first of these – referred to as the HD version, releasing on all home consoles and the PC – will see one to four players bounce around in a 3D platformer, while the second – the 3DS version – will take the form of a side-scroller instead.

Both adventures will take around eight hours to complete, with Pac-Man able to take on different powers by eating berries from the Tree of Life, including the ability to fly, breath ice and fire, and use his tongue to swing across gaps. Apart from the way the platforming is performed, the other major difference is that the 3DS version will be designed to be more kid-friendly, with an easier difficulty than the console counterpart, which will be slightly more challenging to appeal to a wider audience.

With Pac-Man Museum to remind us of his history, Championship Edition Deluxe Plus to re-perfect his epitome and The Ghostly Adventures to bring him into a new age and a younger audience, Namco Bandai have really upped the ante this year in their quest to keep the king of ghost-guzzling in his throne where he belongs, and I look forward to seeing if he stays there.

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  1. Richie Rich says:

    If Museum doesn’t have Pac-Land, Namco can fuck clean off.

  2. Lorna Lorna says:

    Yeah, what is it with fucking Pac-Land being left out. I used to burn through fifty pences on the arcade cab at the back of a cafe in Birchington square when I was a kid, playing that thing. The Speccy version was a pain though, as it was one of those ‘flip the bastard tape over to keep loading’ things and half the time, it wouldn’t load in as a result.

  3. kjsdfknjdfs says:

    Woooow, so the Pacman World series is not even gonna be mentioned? Those games were pretty good, and certainly good compared to this one.

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