Rewinding to 1999, it was the 20th anniversary for PAC-MAN. Namco sought to celebrate by doing what Nintendo and SEGA did for their mascots in those years: give the character a 3D platforming adventure. While not as renowned as Super Mario 64 or Sonic Adventure, Pac-Man World is a must-play for fans of the character and platforming adventures.
Toc-Man has kidnapped Pac-Man’s friends and family. Now Pac-Man must save everyone without getting gobbled.
The intro nicely sets up the tone with danger, intrigue, humor, and impressive animation. The second cutscene starts when you begin “Quest” mode. The villain, a sort of robot doppelganger, “Toc-Man” is nicely introduced. Like Mario and Link, Pac-Man is given no dialogue but we easily know what kind of personality he has. Sadly, that personality is turned upside in the current version. There are only 4 cutscenes in the game, but each of them are important. (Again, with impressive animation, they don’t look dated in the slightest.) After the second cutscene when Pac arrives on Ghost Island is when the platforming begins.
There are six worlds with three levels and a boss fight each. (With the exception of The Ruins, which has only two levels.) It’ll take between four and six hours to get through the Quest, which isn’t impressively long but still decent. It’ll feel longer as you go through the levels, with each having an impressive length. World is more like Mario 64 than Sonic Adventure or Zelda: Ocarina of Time in that you’ll be going through levels at a solid pace while solving mild puzzles to continue along the way. The levels have an appropriate amount of challenge that will even prove to be difficult for longtime gamers. The boss fights deserve great praise. Each requires a learning curve because it’s not immediately obvious how to stop them. Even when it becomes known, it’s still a great challenge, such as the battle against Anubis Rex.
Like platformers of its day, World has pretty nice looking stages. From the awesome “Space” to the steampunk “Factory,” each stage brings something new to the table. The soundtrack ranges from often average to sometimes good. There are very few standout themes, which is unfortunate. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the game is rescuing Pac’s friends using hidden keys. It’s quite easy to go through the levels without finding these keys, so players must be careful to explore each area to find those smartly hidden things. The final battle against Toc-Man is very thematic. While not overly difficult once you know what to do, it provides a satisfying conclusion. (The actor who voices the character deserves praise for that epic laugh.) The ending cutscene is kinda disappointing. While the plot twist is neat depending how you look at it, there should have been one final scene of Pac and friends celebrating the birthday.
Pac-Man World is seemingly and sadly a forgotten game in the land of platforming. It’s not widely talked about as Mario or Sonic, and information about it on the web is greatly limited in comparison to those. For $6 on the Playstation Network you get a fun and challenging adventure with the original gaming mascot. This is what Pac-Man was before Namco’s horrid reboot of the character. It’s definitely a must-play in preparation for Super Smash Bros!