I’m quite fond of the trend of fully re-making classic PlayStation 1 platformers. We got the Crash and Spyro trilogies, and the Wii remake of Klonoa was recently made available on PC as well. Now, Pac-Man World Re-Pac is joining the fray. While it isn’t necessarily up there with the others, Pac-Man World Re-Pac is a very good game in its own right, now available with modern visuals and some adjustments. The price is a bit steep for a four-hour game and, honestly, it would have been wise to release it alongside a remake of its sequel. Regardless, this is an enjoyable blast from the past and I hope we get the second one as well.
Pac-Man World Re-Pac begins with a setup that Liam Neeson would probably like. A huge, mechanical Pac-Man clone named Toc-Man has kidnapped Pac-Man’s entire Pac-Family (and an enemy from Dig Dug for some reason) during his Pac-Birthday Party. It’s our hero’s job to follow Toc-Man to Ghost Island and save his family, who’s been trapped in cages. The plot hasn’t been expanded here, although the ending is different. Cutscenes really only show up at the beginning and end of the game, which is in line with the original release.
Ghost Island acts as a hub, with each set of levels opening up as you progress through their respective sections. There’s not much to see in the hub, although you can chat with anyone you’ve rescued or replay Pac-Man World Re-Pac‘s mazes via a signboard. With 23 levels to get through, six of which are boss battles, the game is, as I said earlier, quite short. Visually, the original game was lovingly remade, and the levels themselves look damn good. As far as I can tell, some of the character models have been re-used from a recent museum release. This isn’t a dealbreaker, though.
I remember this game coming out originally and thinking, “huh? They made Pac-Man into a platformer?” which, of course, wasn’t as weird as the time they made Pac-Man into an adventure game where you guided him around with a slingshot. Pac-Man World Re-Pac does a great job of maintaining series staples while still loading itself up with a lot of ideas that are unique to the sub-franchise. It’s easiest to compare the game to the first Crash Bandicoot, as you control the hero in 3D while often looking on from a side view.
Gotta chomp ’em all
Each level has letters to collect that spell out the hero’s name. Doing so will unlock a bonus section where you have to collect all the available fruit. Speaking of fruit, it acts as keys that unlock all sorts of gates in the levels themselves. You’ll often find a piece of fruit and then have to backtrack to open a gate, but these often aren’t mandatory. You can also find a little Galaga key (I think?) that opens a gate that unlocks the mazes. These also aren’t mandatory and, much like the bonus section, buff your score.
Scores are tallied at the end of the stage, and they’re exactly what they sound like. You get points for collecting items and defeating enemies. Getting a high score gives you bragging rights, but it’ll also net you extra lives. Not that you’ll need them. There are also tokens scattered throughout the levels that give you a slot machine spin after finishing each level. Getting three of the same fruit in these will reward you with more lives. It’s totally unnecessary, though, as Pac-Man World Re-Pac is a fairly easy game. I went out of my way to not collect tokens and still finished the game with over 50 lives.
Take ’em to the pound
Pac-Man has multiple moves at his disposal. He can throw any pellets he’s picked up at dispatch enemies, do a butt bounce that also breaks open treasure chests, and charge up a roll to move up slopes or, again, damage enemies and chests. For a character that used to be defenseless until eating a power pellet, he sure did learn how to handle himself, huh? I guess you need to adapt when you find yourself and your loved ones constantly beset upon by armies of the undead.
There are numerous callbacks to the classic game in Pac-Man World Re-Pac. The mazes are just like the original game. Pac-Man is dropped into a maze and must eat all of the pellets. He can only eat the ghosts if he eats a power pellet first. The different mazes have their own sets of hazards to keep in mind, which changes things up. These are very entertaining and show that Pac-Man still works well, even in 3D.
You typically have to bounce on a yellow switch to make pellets appear alongside a power pellet. Once you grab one of those, Pac-Man becomes a huge version of his classic sprite and can eat the ghosts for a point bonus. This definitely goes a long way toward making Pac-Man World Re-Pac feel more grounded in the franchise. The levels are rather good, although the side-perspective 3D nature of them can present a problem.
Practically all of my deaths in the game were because I couldn’t tell how deep or close platforms were. But you get so many lives that it’s not a big deal. That said, the controls are great, and I found them to be plenty responsive. I did notice some issues with animations, as Pac-Man’s walking animation would sometimes stop and he’d glide on the ground, or his charging animation wouldn’t active and he’d stand still.
The boss battles are good too but rarely present a challenge. Two of them are completely different from a gameplay perspective. One is a shmup and another is a racer, which is now in first-person instead of third-person like in the original release. I got my nostalgic kicks playing Pac-Man World Re-Pac, but, as I said, I wish the game’s sequel was here too. That would have made for a much more sizable chunk of content. You also unlock the original arcade game after beating the story, but I’m going to guess you possibly have access to that in multiple forms at this point. Still, I’m glad to have the series back and I’ll look forward to the potential sequel if this one sells well enough.