Many people don’t know that Namco’s mascot has ventured into very different genres than the arcade he’s known for around the world. His first 3D platforming adventure was released in 1999 for the PlayStation to celebrate the character’s 20th anniversary. Twenty-three years later, PAC-MAN WORLD Re-PAC marks the return of this classic with HD visual enhancements and updated features.
birthday party interrupted
The adventure begins with the PAC family preparing a birthday party for our hero. However, the cleanup is interrupted by the ghosts, who appear and kidnap everyone, trapping them in various cages around the world. Now it’s up to our protagonist to save them through different areas until the final confrontation with the dangerous villain TOC-MAN.
Here, PAC-MAN has features that don’t exist in your classic games, but are quite familiar to platformer fans. We can defeat enemies by jumping on their heads with the Butt Bounce, which is also used to break objects and reach higher platforms.
The hero is able to spin dashes similar to Sonic’s to instantly gain speed and eliminate enemies with crashes. He can also throw the dots he collects to perform close-range attacks and dash in the air, like Yoshi, to reach platforms a bit further away.
The action takes place on classic 3D platformers, with stairs, ramps, moving parts, chasms and water levels. The stages are linear, but allow for a bit of exploration, with a few secret passages and forks along the way. In some places there is a slight backtrackin which the button must be pressed in one location to trigger a mechanism that unlocks progress or secret items in another location.
Throughout the stages there are places with ghosts and mazes that have gameplay similar to the classic arcade, in which we eat an energy pill that allows us to devour our opponents. These steps, while optional, are fun enough for the nostalgic aspect — after all, it’s a PAC-MAN game.
The ultimate goal of the stages is to destroy the TOC-MAN statue at the end of the course. Throughout the stages there are several optional collectibles, which provide an extra challenge for fans of completeness, but can be skipped by those who just want to reach the end of the campaign as soon as possible.
The developers of Re-PAC have sought to maintain the gameplay of the original PAC-MAN World, and this is reflected in the experience of the title itself. Some aspects have aged badly in design from two decades ago, when 3D platformers were still experimental. The game’s camera, for example, is fixed, which confuses the player when calculating certain distances at unfavorable angles.
The level design of the stages is interesting and varied, always with thematic elements related to the world in which we play. In all, there are six scenarios with four stages each, always ending in a final boss battle. These clashes are fun and have their own mechanics, with a nice gameplay variation. There’s even a shoot’em up stage where you face Galaxian, another Namco hit.
lack of credit
The new version of PAC-MAN World has remained faithful to the first in terms of gameplay, level design and music. The soundtrack was reworked for Re-PAC, but remains very similar to the original; the graphics, on the other hand, have undergone a noticeable modernization, becoming much more acceptable to a new audience who will get to know the title on modern platforms.
New cutscenes, modernized UI, difficulty adjustments, and an update to the save system (the original PlayStation Memory Cards) were introduced. There were even some character changes, like replacing Ms. PAC-MAN with PAC-MOM, due to the character rights dispute with ATGames.
Another controversy is that despite its proximity to the 1999 work, the the original development team is uncredited in this remake, which sparked an outpouring of displeasure from game designer Scott Rogers, who argued that “it would only take two minutes” to include the names of those responsible. Bandai Namco said it would “look into” this issue.
The best performance is not in Performance mode
In the Re-PAC version for Nintendo Switch, the player is allowed to choose between two performance modes: Resolution mode, which offers better graphics and fixes the frame rate at 30 frames per second; and Performance mode, which features simpler graphics and dynamically changes the frame rate to, in theory, deliver a smoother experience.
However, the dynamic performance modification in Performance mode is more of a hindrance than a help. It’s quite frustrating to see sudden swings in frame rate halfway through in a situation that demands precision. These wobbles are quite noticeable in handheld mode, although they also often occur when gaming with the Switch docked. Surprisingly, the most stable experience is sticking to 30 fps fixed in resolution mode.
Good but nothing exceptional
PAC-MAN World: Re-PAC It’s a competent 3D platformer, but there are certainly better alternatives of this type for the Switch. Its gameplay is extremely faithful to the 1990s original and while that’s a virtue for those seeking the title for nostalgia, the gameplay from two decades ago feels a bit dated these days, lacking in features. basics such as camera control, in addition to not having good graphics performance on the Switch. However, if you enjoyed the PlayStation original and want to relive its gameplay, this title is what you are looking for.
- Interesting level design, with a good variety of challenges;
- The updated graphics are gorgeous;
- The music and sound effects bring nostalgic feelings along with the original title.
- Severe performance issues, with sudden frame rate changes in Performance mode;
- Fixed camera, which cannot be changed by the player;
- The gameplay feels a bit dated.
PAC-MAN WORLD: Re-PAC — PS5/XSX/PS4/XBO/Switch/PC — Note: 6.5
Version used for analysis: Switch
Reviewer: David Sousa
Analysis made with a digital copy provided by Bandai Namco