Pac-Man Championship Edition DX Review (XBLA)

Posted by Jim Cook, Nov 30, 2010 08:23

Pac-Man is an icon of a simpler era, where many games were in arcades and thus built around simple ’score attack’ mechanics. The formula worked fine and served as the basis for 2007’s Pac-Man Championship Edition, which expanded the game’s rules into one meant for very specific, precise competitive play. Now we have the ’DX’ (’Deluxe’) version at hand, taking everything the previous game did and making it orders of magnitude better while adding several more stages to play on. The result is easily one of the best games on the Xbox Live service, at a very good price.

At its heart, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX ("CE DX" from here on) is Pac-Man with some new play mechanics that are very easy to learn. You still guide Pac-Man around a grid eating up pellets and fruits while usually avoiding ghosts, but the stages are now built to encourage you to play as fast as possible. When you clear part of the board of its pellets, another side of the board will create more; go over there and clean that area up and the original side will spawn extra pellets too, going on in a cycle that ends only when your time limit is up. This means survival isn’t your true goal like it is in the original Pac-Man, but rather sweeping the board as quickly as possible is so that you gain even more items to go after and rack up higher and higher scores.

In addition to the usual abilities of making turns, eating power pellets that let you defeat ghosts, and tunnels that let you go to the other side of the board quickly, you have some new tricks. First, you have ’bombs’ that force the ghosts to back off; you slow down for a little bit after using one (which is bad in a score attack game like this), but they’re still a useful panic button. Next, the game throws dozens of ghosts at you instead of just four, so you get a slow-motion dodge that turns on whenever you get too close to any one ghost. Finally, you can provoke ghosts into specifically chasing you instead of wandering around, and doing so will get them to form a ’Ghost Train’; a line of ghosts that you can plow into once you eat a power pellet. Ghost Trains of sufficient size are worth tons of points, so a good player will learn how to coax the ghosts into forming them.

While timed runs through each stage are the main way of playing, CE DX gives you lots of other choices. You get about ten stages to play on (though admittedly one is a ’free practice’ version of the other stages, and another is a ’darkness covered’ version of them), and as you go through them you’ll unlock other modes. If racking up a high score within five, ten, or fifteen minutes isn’t what you’re after then perhaps a mode where your goal is to eat X amount of fruit within a short time limit is; the faster you finish, the better. Do well in one event, and usually another unlocks to join it so you’ll be kept entertained for quite a while.

The game’s presentation helps as well. The music is mostly ’generic’ thumping beats, but it’s a great fit for this game and keeps you in the mood to play at a fast and frantic pace. There are also several visualization options, some of which try to make it look somewhat retro, others pay tribute to other Pac-Man arcade releases, and some just aim for a pleasing neon-lights theme. It’s all very simple, but pleasant enough and helps keep you ’feeling’ the game.

For $10 USD/800 Microsoft Points, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is a fantastic deal. It’s the same price as the previous Championship Edition, but offers several more stages and modes of play along with other tweaks to the rules that make it much better overall. Repetition will eventually set in, but by then you will have had far, far more than ten bucks’ worth of fun and with that in mind I would recommend CE DX to just about anyone. 

For more video game reviews on this and many others head to Game Rankings

Our Rating for Pac-Man Championship Edition DX Review (XBLA)
8.0 Replay
With each session being just a few minutes long but emphasizing incremental improvements, this is an arcade-style score attack game you’ll come back to quite often.
7.5 Graphics
A variety of visual themes are offered, from retro style to neon lighting and more. They all look fine; none are stellar, but most of them are drawn such that you can easily see what is going on.
8.0 Sound
Fast techno beats would be quite generic anywhere else but are perfectly fitting to the quick pace of this game.
9.5 Gameplay
Extremely easy to learn and play, yet it has enough depth to stay interesting. There are even a variety of modes that make interesting changes to the rules.
3.0 Multiplayer/Online Content
There are online leaderboards, but no other multiplayer content. It’s Pac-Man, so this is both expected nor even really a flaw with the product.
9.0 Overall
A fantastic score attack game that should keep you entertained on a regular basis, Pac-Man CE DX is orders of magnitude better than its already good predecessor.

Rating: 0.0, votes: 0

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