The original Pac-Man Championship Edition – and for that matter, the DX remix that followed soon thereafter – proved that you could teach an old dog new tricks. After all, many of us were so used to playing Pac-Man a certain way, and adding a competitive scoring angle would no doubt seem like the sort of thing to throw players for a loop. But, like Pac-Man Battle Royale in the arcades, it worked like a charm, and left fans wondering what was next for the Pac.
Now we know – it’s Pac-Man Championship Edition 2, which is far from a typical sequel. Instead, it overhauls the rules a little bit, while keeping its competitive edge going. People that are used to the first game may find it takes a little getting used to, but a few runs in and they’ll understand the concept – and keep waka-waka-walking on with it.
The game is still about building as high a score as possible, but it has a new strategy now. You can actually touch ghosts now, instead of dying immediately upon impact. However, here’s the thing – you can only bump them so many times. Hit them three in a row and they become agitated and hunt you down on sight. So it helps to maybe watch their patterns and avoid them whenever you can, until you chow down on a power pellet.
Each stage also has a variety of ghosts that are see-through, and these will simply join the chain of actual ghosts. This is another great feature in the game, as their trails become longer and make it that much more difficult to avoid hitting them. However, the rewards are more plentiful, as you can chow down on a power pellet and string together a number of eats, creating a higher score in the process.
There are plenty of dots on each stage to eat, along with the ability to “bomb jump” back to a starting point on the map. This is great if you’re trying to stay out of harm’s way, or just want to eat a bonus fruit once it opens up on the map. Make sure to use these as sparingly as possible, though – you’ll need them sooner rather than later.
The gameplay is frenetic, yet exciting and easy to get into. But good luck mastering ghost chain eating until you’re at least a couple hours in. Heck, the whole game is built on progression – nothing even unlocks until you get through the tutorial. This may be annoying to those that want to jump in right away, but the stuff you’ll learn is beyond helpful.
There are also boss stages, and they’re pretty good. Rather than doing damage to a larger ghost in the stage, you’ll work your way around them, going into new areas and eventually being able to turn the tide and win. That’s not exactly my definition of a boss fight, but it’s an idea that pays off swimmingly.
Pac-Man Championship Edition 2’s presentation isn’t exactly a heavy improvement over the first game, but it carries over most of its elements intact. The graphics look good, with a strong nostalgia factor from older games, along with neat little effects taken from the first CE, as well as DX. The larger boss stages look like fun, too, even if they don’t change much themselves.
I like the music, too. Not every tune is memorable, but there’s more than enough charm in the soundtrack to give it a listen – and, of course, who doesn’t like those old-school Pac-Man effects? You’re a monster if you don’t.
With competitive leaderboards, fun twists on the gameplay, a number of levels and goodies to unlock and a solid presentation, Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 is a fun sequel that continues to buck the trend for one of gaming’s biggest titans. Here’s hoping it continues for more competitive efforts down the road…I mean, aren’t we do for a Battle Royale sequel any day now?