This review originally appeared on Reviewcenter.com in 2002.
An evil force by the name of “Spooky” has been unleashed by those dastardly ghosts and it’s up to everyone’s favorite pepperoni-slice shaped yellow hero to make sure Pac-World is rid of this ancient evil.
The objective of the game is to collect various “Gold Fruits” Once you collect them all you will be able to do away with Spooky by ways of sealing him in a…er…tree. Ok, so the storyline isn’t that great, but c’mon, this is PacMan we’re talking about here; PacMan don’t need no stinking storyline.
Munching power-pellets and chomping ghosts is what PacMan is all about. How, you ask, was this simple concept used to create a wildly entertaining 3D platform game? With a little help from our good friend innovation. This arcade-turned-platform game borrows from a few different game designs and successfully integrates them all into one solid, respectable title.
PacMan World 2 feels like it was influenced from games like Crash Bandicoot, Super Mario World, Sonic Adventure, Klonoa and even Super Monkey Ball. What is surprising is that Namco was able to extract all the fundamentally entertaining aspects of these games without botching the project along the way. Not to say that Namco has a tendency to churn out poorly executed titles, but even the most respected companies sometimes set they’re sights a little too high — State of Emergency and Ehrgeiz for example. The only detrimental thing that this game has inherited from its predecessors is the sometimes in-the-way camera issues.
Every stage comes complete with a uniquely animated and entertaining loading screen, although it hardly seems necessary since the loading times are practically non-existent. But it does go to show that Namco’s development team did not at any time rest on their laurels, so to speak, during the creation of this game. While the visuals are fundamentally simple, the series basic design looks appropriately evolved on the current hardware that it runs on. Which is to say that PacMan is incredibly cool looking.
Real-time rendering is colorful, well animated, and boasts some impressive visual techniques on top of its already sweet looking cartoon graphics. Every atmospheric element that the game offers is equally good looking, the visual quality is consistent all the way through. There is not much in the way of cut-scenes, outside of the cool looking opening cinema there are only a few instances where dialog transpires.
In some respects the game’s sound is blissfully retro, at times using the same exact sound effects found in the arcade original. Music consists of around 20 original musical scores, which effectively give an added sense of immersion into the game’s beautifully rendered universe. Each track was specifically composed to compliment the stage that they appear in. The Haunted Boardwalk level sports spooky Halloween-like music while the stage “Volcanic Panic” includes tribal-influenced tunes. Namco did a great job in the sound department.
PacMan World 2 is an adventure game complete with a Super Mario Bros 3 type world map. The in-game play control style is fully 3D but is also similar to SMB3 in the sense that it offers top-notch, well thought out, running-and-jumping dynamics. What keeps this game from being in the same league as the classics however is its unbalanced difficulty and short life span. For how well the game looks, it is pleasantly surprising to find gameplay that is equally appealing. PW2’s nagging camera issues are somewhat diminished by the fact that the game actually lets you know when the camera is only partly functional or completely inoperable, by means of an on-screen notification.
PacMan is equipped with a few cool maneuvers to assist him on the journey, like the ‘Butt Bounce’ which launches Pac into the air like a super-ball, and the ‘Rev Roll’ that propels him forward — not unlike Sonic’s dash ability. He also has a flip kick that you can perform by pressing the B button while you are in the air, although this particular move is rarely required and seems like it was thrown in as an afterthought. PacMan will run, jump, scale ledges, and tiptoe across rope-thin bridges Monkey Ball-style. PacMan World 2 is about far more then just running around and jumping, you’ll don a pair of ice-skates and be set loose down a steep, winding mountain of ice while avoiding hazards and collecting items, equip a pair of flippers and get down with some aquatic action, and even pilot a PacMan shaped submarine. Namco has really put PacMan through his paces in this title, pitting the little yellow sphere in situations that Lara Croft would think twice about.
There is an arcade on the first stage that you can go back to at any time. In the arcade you will find a slew of emulated PacMan iterations of the past. The roster reads like this; PacMan, Ms. PacMan, PacMania, PacAttack, and a custom PacMan World 2 Maze game. An entire collection of fun games is at your disposal, assuming you have collected enough ‘Tokens’. Tokens are strewn throughout each stage, and as you collect them more Pac-Man games will be unlocked. This adds considerably to the replayability of Pa-Man World 2, as you will inevitably go back to previous levels to collect more tokens.
It’s quite apparent at first glance that this game is wicked enjoyable. PacMan World: 20th Anniversary was a great platforming game for the PSX and was somewhat overlooked in its time, hopefully this game will not suffer from the same fate. Assuming your down with platformers, you’ll be thoroughly entertained from beginning to end.
This brings me to my next point; the time it actually takes to get to the end is far too short. Expect to complete the game in around six hours. But I am not one to look a gift-horse in the mouth, what is there is fun — and fun is fun. The included arcade mini-games just sweeten the deal. PacMan World 2 exonerates PacMan from the horribly disappointing PacLand games and the freakishly wrong cartoon on which the game was loosely based. If solid, entertaining, platforming action floats your boat, you would be well advised to pick this title up.
Platform: PS2, Gamecube
Launch Date: March 13, 2002
User friendly: [rating:5/5]
Ratings were determined in 2002