Pac-Man Championship Edition DX

Picture Me Rollin' (And Eating Ghosts)

You thought he was dead, but Pac is back in Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, a new-retro classic.
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: January 2, 2011
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Back when I was knee high to a grasshopper, TRON was blowing peoples minds at the theatre and Pac-Man was blowing peoples minds in the arcades. Sounds a lot like today, except that arcades as we know (knew) them were in their infancy then, and are fading into the sunset now. Thankfully home consoles have carried on that tradition in the form of virtual arcades like XBLA and PSN. Not only do these services offer emulated versions of classic arcade games, they are also a fertile breeding ground for the indie game scene and experimental projects from larger developers. Sometimes these aspects all merge into one amazing game, like Space Invaders Extreme/Infinity Gene and now Pac-Man Championship Edition DX. While Namco didn't honor the PSN with the original Pac-Man Championship Edition, they more than made up for it by bringing over PMCE DX, a title which serves to make not only it's immediate predecessor obsolete, but to also become the quintessential version of the glorious yellow pizza pie.

Pac-Man, of course, belongs on the Mount Rushmore of gaming, as he is as integral to the history of gaming as the wedge was to the history of mankind. Someone feel free to correct me, but I think Pac-Man was the first "non-human" to be "Man of the Year" according to Time magazine, and also the first video game character to have a hit song written about him (“Pac-Man Fever”). In the 30 years since we were introduced to him, over 30 games have been released in the home and the arcades, some of which were direct sequels, like the arguably more famous Ms. Pac-Man, Pac-Man Plus, and Super Pac-Man, and others who crossed genres like Pac-Land (platformer) and Baby Pac-Man (pinball!). Hell, he even had a successful Saturday morning cartoon and cereal!

So what does PMCE DX do that hasn't been done already? Well, it takes the basic gameplay and aesthetics of many of the previous "traditional" Pac-Man games, refines it a bit for the short-attention span generation, then drops about 5 hits of acid on it. When you first start the game, only one of the 10 or so levels is available to you, and that level is essentially the entirety of the original PMCE. Not only that, but you are limited to 5-minute "Score Attack" mode the first time you play. In this mode, you have five minutes to score as many points as you can without running out of lives. Once you clear that, it opens a bunch of things. First, you can play 10-minute "Score Attack" on that level. You can also start the Time Trials for that level (more on that later), and it also open 5-minute "Score Attack" on the next level. Once you run through the 10 Time Trials (usually they give you 1-2 minutes to eat a certain number of dots and record how quick you completed the task) you unlock the Super Time Trial for the level which is just doing all 10 Time Trials at once as quick as possible. When all that is completed, you will unlock "Ghost Attack" for that level, where the goal is to eat as many ghosts as possible during one round of power pellets. All of these scores can of course be compared to your friends and the rest of the world.

How does this gameplay diverge from traditional Pac-Man? Well, you are still in a maze, still eating dots and the occasional power pellet that lets you eat ghosts. But things are not the same through the looking glass. To start with, you might not have 4 ghosts chasing you throughout the maze. When a level starts, it will generally just be a single ghost (the evil red Blinky) and as the game goes on, Pinky, Inky and Clyde will join their comrade in the pursuit of Pac-Man. Note that these ghosts still retain their classic Pac-Man personalities as a chaser, ambusher, or idiot, and will move about the maze of their own accord.

Remember those static mazes that never changed (or only every few levels, like in Ms. Pac-Man) and started out filled with dots and pellets?. Say goodbye to that. PMCE DX is essentially 2 mazes at any given time, split vertically into two halves. At the start of most rounds, the two sides will be mirror images, but the right side will have a handful of dots in one area and the left side will be devoid of anything but empty hallways. Once you eat all the dots on the right side, an equal amount of dots and a fruit (or at later points non-fruit items like Galaxians and keys) appear on the left. When you consume the fruit, the right side of the maze morphs into a new layout, the game speed increases, and a new set of dots and a fruit populate the right side. Eat the fruit on the right, and the maze on the left will change. Repeat ad naseum until the speed is 4 times faster than when you started and the maze has morphed though a dozen forms before cycling through them again.
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