Pac-Man World Re-PAC
Yes, the PAC is back and ghosts are stealing his family, but Pac's our hero, and PAC just can't be beat! (If I didn't get this out of my system now I would have definitely let loose throughout this post.) Much like the Klonoa Phantasy Reverie Series, Bandai Namco revealed another revival of a platformer of the past, this time with Pac-Man World Re-PAC. However, unlike Klonoa which is often heralded as an underrated classic, Pac-Man World was not. At least, depending on who you ask, some may recall it as a timeless beacon of their childhood. If you asked me, I would have said that I had a negative experience with it.
Pac-Man World was originally released as the 20th-anniversary celebration of the pizza-shaped protagonist's debut in 1980. In the past, there were platformers within the Pac-Man series as well as titles with a 3D perspective. This was the first game that would combine the two in a fully 3D adventure. Treading new territory, there's always an expectation that the first title won't be the best. Pac-Man World was rough around the edges but I remember reviews praising it for taking a well-known character and being creative. Unfortunately, I never made it past World 2 for several reasons.
Fortunately, the remake addresses these concerns and adds a modern twist to the original. Its success would see two other games, completing the Pac-Man World trilogy and with each game gradually better than the last. First impressions are everything and the opening cutscene remains true to the original with several distinct changes. The intro is done using the in-game engine over the original's FMV sequence, much like Klonoa's intro. The ghosts and Toc-Man speak in their own language this time around rather than the regional language, again, much like Klonoa from the Wii remake to the modern one.
The player is well aware of the intentions of the ghosts as they were hired to kidnap Pac-Man. However, their general confusion as to whom was Pac-Man indirectly caused his entire family to get kidnapped. When Pac-Man arrives, his original reaction of him yelling, which turned into a meme in its own right, is replaced with a similar feeling of distress. While I miss the iconic "NOOOOO," featured below, this intro does a better job at explaining why we are doing things rather than telling us we gotta do heroic things.
Everything else is kept the same except the main menu shows a colorful beach based on World 1 instead of pitch-black darkness. Pac-Man World Re-PAC begins with the first level, Buccaneer Beach. Upon controlling Pac-Man, the differences between the original and Re-PAC are immediate. Pac-Man actually moves fluidly and is not tied to a specific direction! This was the major thing that infuriated me about the original Pac-Man World and it was its controls.
In the original, Pac-Man moved stiff and in whatever direction he was glued to, he was committed until another direction was input. This was because, for whatever reason, the original Pac-Man World used digital inputs over analog. By the time of its release, the Dual Shock was already released, allowing players to use analog controls. Analog is better for 3D platformers as it allows the player to move 360 degrees as opposed to eight directions. It was fine in the early stages, but pixel-perfect jumps caused a difficulty spike due to this system
Thankfully, not only is analog the primary way to control Pac-Man, he is way more fluid with his movements as well. The graphics are beautiful, colorful, and feel like how I thought the original looked in my seven-year-old mind. Early on, the game introduces mazes that act like classic Pac-Man's gameplay. The problem in the original is that the camera was too zoomed in making it difficult to see the ghosts and their hazards.
What did the remake do to fix it? Providing the player an option to zoom the camera outward gives the player a complete view of the maze like classic Pac-Man. For a style choice, Pac-Man transforms into a giant classic limbless version of himself, allowing the player to feel the power of the pellets. The level designs are similar to the original, yet the camera work for the tight corridor sections is adjusted to follow Pac-Man to ensure the lack of cheap deaths.
I've played two levels, Buccaneer Beach and Crisis Cavern, the latter of which haunted me as a child due to its spiders, traps, and excessive low light. In the remake, it kept the dark atmosphere of the caves in tact, but the light cast around Pac-Man is enough for me to see my surroundings. Honestly, it felt like I was robbed in childhood because Pac-Man World Re-PAC was the game I wanted to play back then. Instead, I played a game that let me down for so long that I came at this with bad expectations. I'm happy to say I walked out of this one impressed.
Pac-Man World Re-PAC is available on Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, Sony PlayStation 4, Sony PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S.