Pac ‘N Roll
Developer: Namco | Publisher: Namco | Release Date: 2005 | Genre: Platformer / Puzzle | Website: n/a | Purchase: Amazon | Size: 512 Mbit
Barely 6 months after his last outing on the DS, Pac-Man is back in a brand new game. It is the yellow pill-poppers 25th anniversary however & his latest outing is a lot different from the rather bore boned first offering so I will refrain from comments like franchise milking. This time Pac-Man stars in his own 3D platform game but with a DS style twist.
The game opens with Pac-Man spending his summer being trained by Pac-Master. All is well until the mischievous ghosts summon the legendary Garvis, who was apparently a ghost so evil that the other ghosts banished him themselves. Garvis wastes no time causing havoc upon his return & promptly turns the Pac-People into limbless spheres. The “guardian fairy” of Pac-land intervenes however & gives Pac-Man a mission to save the land. To do this he has to roll along gobbling up yellow dots & fighting ghosts. The story is told via cut scenes which must feature the most annoying “vocal” effects ever. After suffering through the intro I could sympathize with Garvis for tearing the annoying yellow freaks limb from limb.
You control the limbless Pac-Man by rolling him with your stylus on the touch screen. This works surprisingly well & brings back memories of using a trackball to control characters. Those who have played Marble Madness will feel right at home with this game. The basic idea is to roll Pac-Man around the 3D game world collecting yellow dots to unlock gates. Ghosts should be avoided until you find power pellets after which you have a small window of opportunity to hunt them down. Defeated ghosts do not respawn so this makes life a lot easier. The levels feature a mix of platforming & puzzles & while things start off very easy the difficulty soon increases. You need to learn how to use power-ups like the suit of armor which causes you to sink in water & the feather which makes Pac-Man light enough to float.
The game is viewed from an overhead perspective & the camera can be rotated left or right for a better view. The entire top screen is devoted to the action while the bottom displays Pac-Man looking way too happy. There are a few moves to master like flicking Pac-Man for a speed boost but overall the controls are very simple. There are a few boss battles but these are all showdowns again Garvis. Along the way you will be able to unlock the original Pac-Man game which is nice but at this point an almost obligatory inclusion in games starring the yellow mascot. Some added longevity is injected by allowing players to reply levels against a time limit or with specific challenges like finding a certain amount of dots. While this is a solid title it can become a bit repetitive & the difficulty spike partway through the game is quite jarring.
It is nice to see Namco trying out new ideas on the DS & using the styles in a manner that does not feel forced on. This game should keep fans busy for a while but you will definitely want to turn the audio down during the cut scenes.
*Review originally published 2005.