PAC-MAN Museum Review

By Andrew Ogley,
With all the latest titles, tech, and consoles coming out, it seems a little different to be writing a review for a game that is actually older than a great portion of the TA community. The original Pac-Man hit arcades over 30 years ago and became a phenomenon; the character was effectively the first video game icon, well before Sonic and Mario.

Since the 80's, the distinctive yellow character has appeared in numerous games and spin-offs, and has been ported to just about every platform and system since. To celebrate all this pellet chomping goodness, Namco Bandai have now released Pac-Man Museum Achievements, featuring nine different historical games. Of course, a trip to the museum has not always been the most popular of outings, so is this one any different?
Start Screen

Straight off, we should say that like any compilation, Pac-Man Museum is a very mixed bag, which doesn't necessarily contain all of the best titles. However, the mix does show the different fashions and phases that gaming underwent over the period, and time's influence on the franchise. The title includes the original 2D game, an isometric version, a platformer, and an attempt at a Tetris clone.

I'm going to make the bold assumption that everyone reading this knows exactly who Pac-Man is, and exactly how the original games play. I'm also assuming that I don't have go into great detail about the iconic pizza-shaped, power pellet-munching character who is desperately avoiding ghosts in an on-screen maze in one minute, and chasing them in the next after chomping down one of the power up pills.

Museum starts fittingly with the game that started it all, Pac-Man from 1980, and the other games follow chronologically including Super Pac-Man (1982), Pac & Pal (1983), Pac-Land (1984), Pac-Mania (1987), Pac-Attack (1987), Pac-Man Arrangement (2005), Pac-Man Championship (2007), Pac-Man Battle Royale (2011), and as free DLC before the end of March, Ms Pac-Man.

All of the games appear to be authentic ports of the original titles both in their visuals and audio. Unfortunately, this authenticity has two sides; on the positive side, it will strike a nostalgic note with those old enough to remember them as they were. The downside is that a lot of these games were created in an 8-bit era and have not scaled well to modern resolutions. To compensate for this, the games are kept to their original screen sizes, and are wrapped in a faux arcade cabinet glass screen, which looks more like a tablet or pad.
Pac & Pal

Equally authentic (and to prove that some things never change), the games still maintain the same level of challenge that they held all those years ago. Although it felt strange playing the games without a chunky block of a joystick in my hands, the modern controller proved a very competent replacement and it needed to be, as avoiding and chasing ghosts remained as tough as it ever was. You still need those twitch muscles and reflexes as you navigate the mazes, munching pellets and avoiding the ghosts. It surprised me just how compelling the original Pac-Man could be and how many hours I was content to sit and play a game that was nearly as old as I was. Pac-Man Championship Edition was another standout title and was equally good fun; a seemingly faster version of the original game with a more modern feel to it.

Sadly, not all of the games quite match this. The platformer, Pac-Land, looks and plays like something out of the Spectrum era, and the isometric based, Pac-Mania, still suffers the same problem as the original by hiding a good portion of the screen as the camera tracks with the player. The Tetris clone, Pac-Attack, suffered from the same visual aging, although the puzzle element was surprisingly tough even now.

The only concessions to the modern age are the inclusion of global leaderboards for each of the games within the compilation and a virtual Pac-Room in which you can view the characters and items that you have unlocked as you progress through each of the games. There is also a stamp book in which you can collect stamps for achieving certain milestones in the game. Pac-Man Battle Royale also includes the possibility to play four-player local co-op meaning that the game features up to four Pac-Man characters all trying to avoid ghosts or devour them when powered up. All of this happens on one single screen, leading to a fun but truly chaotic game.
Main Menu

The official achievements, totaling 400 GS, will keep players busy for a while, as most of them are based around collecting various stamps and unlocking various characters. The rate of achieving these will be heavily dependent on your own Pac-Man skills.

Ultimately, the question is who is going to buy this compilation? If you're of a certain age and get a warm, fuzzy, nostalgic feeling remembering how you would pump coins into the arcade machines, then you won't find a more authentic port of the games. However, if you belong to a younger generation, you might not feel the same attraction. The gameplay may be simpler and may belong to a certain bygone videogame age, but don't be mistaken, the simple gameplay hasn't aged and remains as compelling and challenging as ever. Even with much more modern titles sitting on my desk, I found myself drawn back to the games, continually pushing to make that next level.

The reviewer spent around six hours playing through the various games, popped two of the game's twelve achievements, and thoroughly enjoyed that pellet munching time. The review copy was provided by the publisher.
Andrew Ogley
Written by Andrew Ogley
Andrew has been writing for TA since 2011 covering news, reviews and the occasional editorials and features. One of the grumpy old men of the team, his mid-life crisis has currently manifested itself in the form of an addiction to sim-racing - not being able to afford the real life car of his dreams. When not spending hours burning simulated rubber, he still likes to run around, shoot stuff and blow things up - in the virtual world only of course.