Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2
- Street Date:
- October 14th, 2014
- Reviewed by:
- Bill Braun
- Review Date:1
- October 23rd, 2014
- Game Release Year:
- Monkey Bar Games
- Monkey Bar Games
PS3 disc version reviewed.
Based on the Disney XD television series, 'Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2' is the sequel to the 2013 video game that I never knew existed. Developed by Bandai Namco Studios, it focuses on a younger, pre-teen version of the Pac-Man that I grew up with in the early 80s. The simplicity of maze navigation and pellet eating has been replaced with 3D environments, a fully animated (and voiced) Pac-Man, and a story that is clearly designed to entice the younger gaming demographic. I initially familiarized myself with this latest version of 'Pac-Man' before passing the controller over to my eight and nine year old daughters for the ultimate test to see if 'Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2' offers anything more than a three dimensional coat of paint.
The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
As protector of Pacopolis, Pac-Man is consistently looked to when the evil Lord Betrayus – the main antagonist of the series – hatches his latest plans to take over Pac-World. Utilizing his unlockable and transformative power-ups, Pac-Man works his way across smaller, bite-sized 3D platforming levels before confronting the level-ending minion(s) under Betrayus' control.
I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of game play variety 'Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2' provides. While there are countless pellets, ghosts, and fruit to consume during each level of the game, the level design is varied enough to keep things fresh for the 10-15 minutes they takes to complete.
There are also a number of short on-rails flying, driving, and shooting sections of the game. Their placement breaks up what could otherwise (eventually) become a monotonous exercise in video game boredom. However, they provided additional opportunities for me to hone my skills, achieve greater medals, and add more lives to my total score.
Speaking of scoring medals, I remain baffled by the requirements to achieve anything higher than a silver. While certain power-ups provide a boost to your total, and slightly off-screen hidden areas deliver the greatest boon, I was often scratching my head about what was needed to obtain that coveted gold medal. 'Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2' is by no means a difficult game for those skilled with a controller, but its scoring mechanisms seem a bit skewed toward perfection when considering the age group the game is primarily targeting.
And let's be honest, as the father of two young, aspiring, gamers, it's unlikely other adults will be reading this review for their own interests in playing the game. Those frequent visitors to High-Def Digest that stop to read this review are undoubtedly in a similar parenting situation that I am. So, with that said, what did my daughters (aka, the target audience) think about 'Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2'?
Aside from their disappointment in realizing that 'Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2' is a single player only game, they were quite fond of the experience. Passing the controller back and forth, from one 10 minute level to the next, they took great pleasure in chomping any and all ghosts that crossed their path. While some of the platforming caused a bit of frustration for them, they eventually grew accustomed to the controls.
What they found most exciting are Pac-Man's abilities that are introduced throughout the game: shooting ice, throwing fire, and bouncing like a ball, to name a few. Being able to swap back to his standard form mixed up the game play variety and kept my girls interested. Including the on-rails levels provided for some friendly competition among siblings, as did the numerous other timed challenges.
As a father of two daughters that, for the most part are the best of friends, I was quite pleased to see them working together rather than complaining about the need to 'wait their turn'. Developing 'Pac Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2' as a co-op gaming experience would have ultimately been the better choice, the game play mechanics, level of difficulty, and overall theme are all a good fit for that age group.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
Although completely unfamiliar with the television show of the same name, 'Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2' delivers a colorful palette consistent with the light-hearted and child-friendly content. From a 3rd-person perspective, the mostly-fixed camera is placed far enough back, and at a consistently beneficial angle, that it seldom hinders gameplay. Rarely did I find that the camera prevented me from making a strategic jump or hitting my targets while flying through the air.
The environmental variety is also a nice feature. Spread out across five major hub worlds, the level design and presentation accommodates for city structures, underwater locations, and the spectacles of outer space. While the backdrop was often re-used from one level to the next, it never felt boring or uninspiring. The brief amount of time it took to complete each level of the game also helped to eliminate the feeling of repetition.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
The audio for 'Pac Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2' is exactly what I would have expected from such a cartoonish game. The character voice-overs are child-like and high pitched, and their encouraging words to 'keep going' or 'great job' (repeated often) is smartly included when considering the age group the game is designed for.
Less pleasing is the looped soundtrack that accompanies every adventure Pac-Man goes on. Although it nicely fits the mood and theme of the game, its happy-dance tone is barely tolerable. Replacing the soundtrack with music of my own (or nothing at all) was an immediate response.
Improving on the awarded medals at the end of each level is a good place to start. However, both of my daughters were more interested in seeking out and locating those just-off-screen hidden spots that concealed the last remaining fruit or power up. Although 'Pac Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2' provides a few reasons to replay the game, the exploration, albeit limited in scope, was much more enticing to them than was the need to better their overall score from one level to the next.
While unlikely to keep even a moderately experienced gamer interested for more than the first few hours, 'Pac Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2' succeeds at capturing the imagination and excitement of its target audience. Although occasionally difficult for the younger gamer it is designed for, it forgives with its frequent checkpoints and liberal use of extra lives to promote repeated attempts to successfully complete one level after the next. Parents of young gamers should feel comfortable in purchasing this game for their children as it retains its light-hearted tone and mildly challenging game play from start to finish.
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