Title: Pac-Man World Re-Pac
Developer: NOW PRODUCTION
Release Date: August 25, 2022
Reviewed On: PS5
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Genre: 3D Platformer
Pac-Man’s platforming days are but a brief facet of this timeless classic’s extensive existence. Yet, those platforming entries have managed to become some of this character’s most beloved outings. The recent remake of Pac-Man World, Pac-Man World Re-Pac, was a wholly unexpected development that I’m sure caught everyone off guard. Its arrival has marked the perfect time for veterans to revisit a classic under a modern lens and for newcomers to finally experience a 3D platformer deserving to be regarded in the same realm as the greats.
Pac-Man World Re-Pac follows the titular protagonist as he goes off on a quest to save his kidnapped family from Ghost Island. There isn’t much of a plot here, as it’s solely present to establish stakes and present a general goal to achieve. There are various locales on the hub island, each housing levels with distinct themes. It’s a classic 3D platformer through and through, simply with a new coat of paint to appeal to more contemporary eyes.
Regarding gameplay, Pac-Man has a compact moveset. Aside from the basic jump is the butt bounce which emphasizes elevation. The timing for this maneuver can take some getting used to since it can’t be triggered immediately after performing a jump.
Still, a few instances of practice will rapidly instill its efficacy, and it’s a skill you’ll constantly be using throughout your adventure. From having to reach higher platforms to defeating foes only vulnerable on their topsides, any apparent awkwardness with the butt bounce will quickly resolve itself.
The other notable gameplay tool in Pac-Man’s arsenal is the Rev Roll. As its name implies, Pac-Man quite literally revs himself up while the respective button is held down, resulting in a swift charge. While the only required times to use this technique are usually during puzzles with switches and to traverse hills, it can also be used to defeat enemies. It’s a malleable ability in terms of where one can benefit from it.
After doing a stage or two, it becomes evident that Pac-Man World Re-Pac is a methodical platformer above all else, where gradual exploration is crucial. Several collectibles are available to find, with Pac-Man’s family even freeable in certain stages. You definitely won’t want to blindly rush through stages since you’ll miss out on what makes this game so rewarding.
The difficulty curve also feels well-implemented. Some later levels can be undoubtedly challenging and take actual practice to succeed. I was pleasantly surprised by this seemingly meticulous balancing act, as it somewhat reminded me of how well the Klonoa duology handled itself in its original PlayStation days and remake. These early 3D platformers are far better than I remember.
Fruits are also found throughout the levels and are essentially keys that open gates to specific collectibles. Using them tends to require backtracking, and it can admittedly grow a tad irksome to pursue them now and again. I’d prefer them to be well-hidden nearby rather than easily findable later in the stage and have to traverse identical obstacles to get back to the locked doors. Still, they were never major time sinks, so this general design choice was never an outright ruiner.
The bosses managed to be reasonably fun, with traditional platforming-centric bouts and minigames like a straight-up shmup segment. They were always fresh and, while not exceptionally challenging, weren’t just free passes. Some platformers treat their boss battles as a victory lap of sorts for clearing a certain number of stages. As a result, they can feel underwhelming. Thankfully, the bosses in Pac-Man World Re-Pac are genuinely enjoyable to the point where I somewhat looked forward to them rather than growing to view their arrivals as chores.
Even though I generally appreciated the stages, the usages of Ghosts were questionable. Hearkening to the original Pac-Man, there are sections where he can eat a Power Pellet to devour Ghosts in the immediate vicinity, and it all just kind of feels needless. There are already mazes accessible from bonus item collecting that far more accurately represent the franchise’s roots, so these random implementations of Ghost-eating come off as padding. They aren’t significant detractors or the like, but their inclusions were never meaningful.
I’m sure that some veteran fans will prefer the original game’s look. Still, I found this new presentation excellently handled. The area designs aren’t overdone and stay mostly faithful to the original game’s vibe. It’s not a drastic visual overhaul that takes full advantage of modern hardware, but the overall appearance is collectively endearing. It’s also worth noting that in my experience, the game’s performance on PlayStation 5 seemed faultless.
Pac-Man World Re-Pac is a revived, gratifying 3D platformer that any fan of the genre should consider picking up. Its consistently engaging level design, well-implemented difficulty, and unique boss battles provide a rewarding experience. Even when considering some level design oddities, there are no vital drawbacks to embracing this delightful journey. Here’s hoping the sequel receives similar treatment.
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