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December 2022

Pac-Man World Re-Pac

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Platformer
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Release Date: Aug. 26, 2022


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Xbox Series X Review - 'Pac-Man World: Re-Pac'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Sept. 21, 2022 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

Pac-Man World Re-Pac is a remastered/enhanced version of one of the most popular Pac-Man games of all time, bringing back the classic 3D platformer with HD visual enhancement, gameplay improvements and new features.

Pac-Man has always occupied a rather strange place in the mascot world. He is one of the most recognizable video game characters of all time, but for many people, his legacy is locked in the earliest days of gaming, when he was just a yellow circle chomping ghosts in a maze. Over the years, Pac-Man has been in everything from adventure games to his own television show, but at heart, he's still that "pac" in a maze. Pac-Man World for the PS1 represents what was probably the best attempt to break out of the mold for the hungry yellow ghost-catcher. It hasn't been re-released since then, and Pac-Man World: Re-Pac is a surprising remake that gives this somewhat forgotten title another chance to shine.

Back in the day, you didn't need much of a plot for a game, and Pac-Man World: Re-Pac holds fast to that. In the game, Pac-Man's friends and family have been kidnapped by Toc-Man, an evil version of Pac-Man. He's a bad guy, and you have to beat him up. It isn't trying to be Shakespeare. Sometimes you just have to beat up a big bad guy and rescue some people.

Pac-Man World isn't quite a 2D platformer and isn't quite a 3D platformer. It's more akin to something like Super Mario 3D Land, where it's largely designed with a 2D aesthetic but you have more freedom of movement. Pac-Man can hop, bounce, dash forward, and all of those other classic 2D platformer actions. Even if you're getting this for a young gamer, they should have no trouble picking up the basics. It's not Kirby-level straightforward, but it's still very much an all-ages game with minimal stress.

The level design falls firmly in the "good but not great" category. It's an orthodox set of platformer levels with the usual tricks: pits, spinning and moving platforms, trap doors, etc. The worlds are well paced, and you're never doing one thing for too long, so it keeps the basic gameplay nice and fresh. It isn't quite as inventive as some recent mascot platformers, but for the early 3D era, it stands up quite well on its own merits. You can't escape the fact that even with the polish of the remake, it still feels dated. You have to be willing to overlook the fact that it's two decades old to enjoy the game.

The real star of the show are the boss fights, which absolutely steal the show. Each is well designed and features interesting concepts. For example, one is effectively a kart racer instead of a traditional fight. The kart racer plays surprisingly well for what amounts to a minigame. Another has you playing a modified version of Galaxia, which is a nice diversion from the norm. Each boss fight feels like a cool, creative and well-crafted addition to the game, and they feel like they've seen the most updates since the original title. They're absolutely the highlight of the title.

That's about it. The game has some fun bonuses, including puzzle levels where you effectively play the original Pac-Man, but they're perfunctory. Even the addition of the original game doesn't feel as special when you can buy five different versions of it on any given storefront. What you see is what you get: a series of fun platformer levels and enjoyable boss fights.

At the end of the day, Pac-Man World's biggest problem is the same one it had when it was released 20 years ago. It's a good platformer. It has solid level design and largely feels like a good time, but that's where it begins and ends. At a time when 3D platformers were in their infancy and games were defining what was to come, Pac-Man World was a nice, safe game, and that is still what it is many years later. This isn't necessarily a negative, but it makes it difficult to stand out unless you already have a fondness for the yellow ball. For Xbox players, it's a nice look at mascot platformers that are relatively rarer on Microsoft's system than Nintendo's or Sony's.

The updated visuals are extremely nice, with everything receiving a new coat of paint that makes the game look delightful. It's bright and colorful, and most things are extremely well animated. A fantastic effort was spent on the remake to capture the feel of the original without sticking too closely to the old graphics. The soundtrack doesn't seem to have gotten much of an update, though. It's not a bad soundtrack, but the difference between the "Re-Pac" and the original feels minimal, and it occasionally feels too much like a PS1 game.

I like Pac-Man World: Re-Pac, and I think it's a great example that games don't need to be genre-defining to be fun, especially at its discount price. You have to go in knowing what you're expecting, and back in the days of Blockbuster Video, it's the game you might have completed over a weekend rental. In a vacuum, it's a fun, charming time. If your time or money is limited, you'd be better off with a title that offers more content.

Score: 7.5/10

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