Though associated most frequently with the classic arcade game, Pac-Man has been the star of its fair share offshoots as well, which shouldn’t be surprising of a mascot this popular. In 1999, Namco released what remains one of the more popular of those offshoots with Pac-Man World, a 3D platformer looking to replicate some of the success that so many others were enjoying at the time. Now, more than two decades on, Bandai Namco has decided to touch up the game and bring it back with a remake. Pac-Man World Re-PAC is a throwback that most wouldn’t have predicted, but now that it’s here, does it do a solid job of recreating the undeniable charms of the original game?
Well, solid enough. As a remake, Pac-Man World Re-PAC is a fairly conventional upgrade and doesn’t add anything particularly major, and it’s really more about preserving and polishing up the original experience for a new generation. The game at the core of the experience, meanwhile, is a fun 3D platformer, but definitely shows its age, and feels like a game that maybe is more straightforward than it needs to be. The end result is a perfectly enjoyable game that doesn’t really leave a mark on the memory.
"As a remake, Pac-Man World Re-PAC is a fairly conventional upgrade and doesn’t add anything particularly major, and it’s really more about preserving and polishing up the original experience for a new generation."
Let’s talk about the changes the game makes over the original first, because honestly, there isn’t an awful lot to cover here. Visually, Pac-Man World Re-PAC does a solid job of polishing the original game’s look while preserving its aesthetic. It looks fine and it runs well enough, and the redesigned character models and environments do often have charming little details, but obviously, it’s not going to blow anyone’s socks off. Meanwhile, there are new cutscenes in the game leading into the boss fights, while the original’s none-too-excellent voice acting has mercifully been replaced by gibberish.
On the gameplay front, too, Pac-Man World Re-PAC makes a few changes here and there. The most significant of these is the new hover jump ability, which lets you hover in the air for a couple of moments, making some of the game’s trickier jumps a little easier. Meanwhile, an Easy mode is now also available as an option, while a number of other granular gameplay adjustments and changes have also been made, like turning into Mega Pac-Man upon eating power pellets, or boss fights being tweaked to iron out some of their issues in the original.
From top to bottom, the general idea in Pac Man World Re-PAC is clearly to not change up the original experience too much. It does make some changes, but it not too often, and the changes it does make don’t stray too far from the source material. It’s a fairly straightforward upgrade, yes, but it’s also a perfectly serviceable one. Of course, given how long it’s been since the original game came out, there’s a good chance that a number of people jumping into the remake will be experiencing it for the first time- which is where the actual content comes in.
"From top to bottom, the general idea in Pac Man World Re-PAC is clearly to not change up the original experience too much. It does make some changes, but it not too often, and the changes it does make don’t stray too far from the source material. It’s a fairly straightforward upgrade, yes, but it’s also a perfectly serviceable one."
Pac-Man World Re-PAC adopts the Super Mario 3D World and Crash Bandicoot level-based linear structure. There are six worlds in the game, each with three levels and a final boss fight, and it doesn’t take very long to get through all of that, especially if you’re not bothering with the collectibles too much. That said, depending on where your expectations are at, you could easily have a good time with the content the game does have on offer. Pac-Man World Re-PAC is far more simplistic than a lot of other 3D platformers, so it definitely shows in age in that regard, but it’s also a fundamentally fun game at its core that is consistently enjoyable to at least some degree.
Pac-Man’s own moveset isn’t too wild. He can butt bounce, which is a jump used for both platforming and attacks, and he can spin dash, while for ranged attacks, he can throw pellets at enemies from a distance. That, in addition to some power ups, makes up your entire repertoire of moves. Controlling Pac-Man is generally fun, though it can feel a bit floaty at times, while it doesn’t help that the game often makes it frustratingly hard to judge distances between jumps, which is a pretty basic thing for a platformer to nail down.
That said, Pac-Man World Re-PAC deserves credit for its levels, not only in terms of being surprisingly varied, but also because they’re generally solidly designed. While they don’t ever get too elaborate, going through their platforming and combat challenges tends to be fun, especially when you factor in optional challenges and collectibles. Engaging with that optional content is mostly quite straightforward as well, but it does add an extra dimension to the experience. From hitting buttons that alter the level’s layout to throwback mazes that call back to Pac-Man’s roots, the ancillary content on offer in the game can be surprisingly delightful.
"Engaging with that optional content is mostly quite straightforward, but it does add an extra dimension to the experience. From hitting buttons that alter the level’s layout to throwback mazes that call back to Pac-Man’s roots, the ancillary content on offer in the game can be surprisingly delightful."
While Pac-Man World Re-PAC’s straightforward and breezy nature will definitely be a bonus for some, especially those who’re not looking for a grueling challenge, some will perhaps be a bit put off by it. The game feels almost too straightforward, like it isn’t doing everything it can to keep things interesting, so that even in spite of its brief runtime, it ends up feeling like it’s beginning to run out of ideas by the end. That’s not to say it stops being enjoyable, but that flat nature of the experience, combined with how easy the game is on the whole, means that Pac-Man World Re-PAC doesn’t end up making too much of a mark.
Clearly, this isn’t a genre giant. The original wasn’t when it first launched in 1999, and Pac-Man World Re-PAC, which is a very faithful recreation of that experience, definitely feels a little dated in its simplicity. For fans of the original game and for fans of the genre as a whole, there’s definitely plenty of enjoyment to be had here- but once you’ve played through the game (which shouldn’t take too long), it probably won’t stick out in your memory for too long.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.
Solid level design; Fun optional content; Looks neat.
Some might find it too straightforward; Jumps can feel a little floaty at times.
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