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Pac-Man Championship Edition DX

Score: 100%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Games America, Inc.
Developer: BANDAI NAMCO Games America, Inc.
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Arcade/ Classic/Retro/ Action

Graphics & Sound:

I give up. After spending a few weeks with Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, I can't find anything wrong with it. This is simply one of the most successful reinventions I've ever had the pleasure of encountering. If you've ever suffered from Pac-Man Fever, beware: Championship Edition DX has the potential to transform what was once a localized outbreak into a full-blown pandemic.

I won't waste time explaining the tech of a Pac-Man game for one very obvious reason: it's a frigging Pac-Man game. With games like this, it's all about the artistic approach and style. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX doesn't risk alienating fans; the development team's intentions are clear the moment you get a glimpse of the pre-game customization options. If you want pixelization, you got it. If you want something a bit more modern, the choice is yours. If you want something in-between, you'll find something you like. Just about every visual incarnation of the hungry pie chart is here in all its glory (well, with the exception of the bipedal sprite from Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures). If you have an idea of what the ideal Pac-Man game should look like, you'll be able to recreate it here.

Namco is very proud of its heritage, as it should be. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX retains every conventional Pac-Man sound bite. From the introductory music to the wakka-wakkas to the signature death sound, this game isn't at all eager to get away from its roots. Techno fits the kind of gameplay experience offered by Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, and there's a fine selection listed among the rest of the pre-game customization options.


The newly-branded "Namco Generations" series is a noble initiative that should yield some fantastic results. The idea of taking a classic franchise and breathing new life into it is fundamentally appealing on many levels. And when the results prove out as well as they do in Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, one can only imagine what they've got up their sleeves for their other classic franchises. But let's get down from the soapbox, yes? You want to know what's so great about this game.

What better way to celebrate your mascot's 30th anniversary than by carefully reinventing him and catapulting him safely back into the realm of relevance? Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is essentially Pac-Man on speed with a serious formula twist. The object has always been to achieve the highest score imaginable, and so it is in this game. However, it is the manner in which you attempt to bulk up that high score that makes this game so irresistible. It all starts with the mazes, which are structured identically to their days-of-yore counterparts. The role of the invaluable Pac-Dots has changed. These score-rewarding pellets used to populate entire mazes, but now they only appear in special patterns. There's always a special angle of attack to each formation, and cracking the strategy always results in a higher score and, let's face it, an even higher fever. Pac-Dot formations are usually kept simple, which guarantees that this game was most definitely built for speed.

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX makes use of a good number of maze types and fleshes each of them out with a classic spread of Score Attack and Time Attack variants. There's also a Ghost Combo mode that encourages you to consume as many ghosts as you can; building up a train and wolfing them all down in one go is challenge enough, but if you manage to snag another Power Pellet, you can try to build your combo even further.


The risk/reward dynamic is usually the best way to incentivize trying out higher difficulty levels, and the developers of Pac-Man Championship Edition DX clearly know this to be true. Difficulty level dictates speed, and your speed directly impacts how quickly and efficiently you can increase your score. It's equally simple and brilliant.

If you choose to try your hand at Expert, prepare yourself for an eye-straining reflex. If you want a good spot on the leaderboards, you're going to have to know the best possible routes for each maze and pellet variation. You won't often have much time to even think about where you're going, and factoring ghost presence into the equation is almost a strategic overload. Using bombs slows you down, so learning how to fake out problematic ghosts is a must. Still, time slows to a crawl when the game detects you're about to bite the dust. That usually helps.

Game Mechanics:

So, the setup is clear; but how exactly does Pac-Man Championship Edition DX work? As Pac-Man, you are let loose in each maze and encouraged to eat Pac-Dots and pieces of fruit. By consuming all the Pac-Dots on one side of the maze, a new piece of fruit will appear on the other side of the maze. Consuming a piece of fruit will clear the other side and reset it with new ghost and Pac-Dot formations. As mentioned before, high scores can't be achieved without speed and efficiency. Time is money, so to speak, and you don't get any points for swallowing air. If you find yourself hopelessly cornered, you can use a bomb. However, these slow you down, reducing your scoring potential.

Pac-Dots yield their fair share of points, but if you really want to hit the jackpot, manipulate the ghosts for your own benefits. At the start of each game, the ghosts don't actively pursue Pac-Man. Instead, they're simply sleeping. How would you feel if someone ran past your bed screaming "Wakka-wakka-wakka-wakka!" while you were sleeping? The ghosts do what any normal-thinking person would do -- they attempt to chase him down. They don't usually get clever, though; instead, they're content to follow in a tightly-compacted single-file line. This plays into the strategic part of the game; some of these ghosts dwell slightly off the Pac-Dot trail, but the scoring potential is greater for ghosts than it is for Pac-Dots. Trust me when I say that few moments in gaming are more satisfying than building up a ghost train, grabbing that elusive Power Pellet, and scarfing down the entire train in a matter of seconds.

Remakes seem to be all the rage today, but too many of them boil down to mere fanservice. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX provides a razor-sharp counterpoint to that notion. It's yet another testament to that old adage about calculated risks paying huge dividends, and frankly, it's one of the best Xbox Live Arcade games out there.

-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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