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Pac-Man CE DX+: The Wakka Wakka Nightclub

Pac-Man CE DX Plus(1)

To say that until recently Pac-Man had fallen on hard times for last two, or maybe even three decades would be an understatement. Yes, the characters are cute and adorable- making the lovable yellow glutton the perfect company mascot, but the games themselves haven’t enjoyed a great measure of critical and/or commercial success since Ms. Pac-Man. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being hard on Namco; the original formula is difficult to improve upon. That said, 2007’s Championship Edition seemed to have reversed this trend, leaving me with high hopes for this follow up.

Released in late 2010 with an update and a re-name as recently last as month, Pac-Man CE DX+ has you controlling the same classic character as he wanders through a series of mazes populated by cartoony, but hostile, ghosts.  This time, your objective is not to eat all of the small dots before said ghosts get to you, instead you are playing against the clock for either points or challenges depending on the game mode.

Pac-Man CE DX Plus(3)

Munching the dots in the map will not only gradually increase the speed of the game, but also spawn fruit on the opposing side of the screen. Eating these will morph the maze around you, and re-populate it with both dots and a new set of napping ghosts. When you pass by them, they’ll start chasing the player in a straight line. As the fruit eating and ghost waking process repeats itself over and over and at a faster rate, you’ll soon find yourself being chased by a very colorful and psychedelic ghost conga-line. Once you find a power pellet the real fun begins, eating dozens of the little buggers in a quick succession, watching the points and combos rack up, hearing the classic Pac-Man sound effects play faster and faster and all this set to a techno beat culminating in a neon explosion of color is an extremely trippy and satisfying reward!

Before long the speed of the game becomes absolutely frantic, to the point where I’d even lose sight of my own character, fortunately, when you’re too close to a ghost you enter a bullet-time mode and the screen zooms in on the action making it easier to get out of a sticky situation. Regardless, it’s at this point one should start memorizing the deliberate paths of dot patterns that form each time you eat a fruit. In a way, Pac-Man CE DX+ feels a lot like a time-based reflex puzzle game mixed with the classic 1980 formula as taking a single wrong turn can ruin your entire strategy, especially if you run into a wall of sleeping ghosts with no available exit. Luckily, you have a new power-up in the form of a bomb, when used it sends the ghostly rainbow conga-line (I can’t believe I just said that) back to their central holding pen. It also has the added mixed-blessing of reducing the speed of the game, making it more manageable but substantially reducing your point collecting rate.

Pac-Man CE DX Plus(4)

As fun and challenging as the game is, the real trick is surpassing your friends’ highscores, something which the main menu screen is kind enough to remind you every time you log on. The new update allows you to issue challenges to anyone in your friends list, but this came a little late as I don’t know anyone who still plays the game, bear in mind this is a three year old game. The most note-worthy feature implemented by the update is the addition of DLC in the form of character skins and new mazes. They’re not terribly expensive at $1.99 each and while the Dig-Dug skin pack had me giggling like a schoolgirl the novelty eventually wore off. I also didn’t really care for the extra maps save for the “Big Eater Course” which spawns ghosts at an increased rate, at one point over a third of the screen consisted of nothing but blue ghosts and the neon-spectacle that followed was beautiful. If you’re not interested in buying skins, you’ll be glad to know the game already comes with several to choose from and they all maintain the nightclub theme to some degree. However some of them were too cluttered, making it hard to perceive the action.

Pac-Man CE DX+ is very fun to play, whether it’s in short bursts or as a time-sink this updated entry feels as timeless as the original and it’s definitely one of the best arcade experiences I’ve had in a long time. The addition of DLC may have come a bit late into the product’s life and save for one or two items I didn’t particularly care for it, better late than never though.

Pac-Man CE DX Plus(5)

To say that until recently Pac-Man had fallen on hard times for last two, or maybe even three decades would be an understatement. Yes, the characters are cute and adorable- making the lovable yellow glutton the perfect company mascot, but the games themselves haven’t enjoyed a great measure of critical and/or commercial success since Ms. Pac-Man. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not being hard on Namco; the original formula is difficult to improve upon. That said, 2007’s Championship Edition seemed to have reversed this trend, leaving me with high hopes for this follow up. Released in late 2010 with an…

Review Overview

Gameplay - 90%
Story - 50%
Aesthetics - 95%
Content - 80%
Accessibility - 85%

80%

Good

Summary : A fresh take on a classic formula, it’s a blast to play for both fans of the 1980 original and newcomers alike.

User Rating: 3.6 ( 2 votes)

About Gonçalo Tordo

Having grown up with both consoles and a PC, Gonçalo ‘Purple Wizard’ Gonçalves will play anything from Wizardry to Halo including JRPGs, Adventure games, Wizardry, WRPGS, Shooters and Wizardry.

27 comments

  1. This time for Africa…

  2. This time for Africa…

  3. Fozzy is the original Wacka Wacka.

    Good review!

  4. All the DLC is $1.99 a piece? Skins, maps, etc?

    • Yep! Everything’s priced $1.99 with the exception of the BGM songs which are priced at $0.99 a piece.

  5. I wish they just offered a $5 pack instead of charging $1.99 per each item.

  6. Good to see PAc still around in 2013. I liked CE a lot. Great update!!!

  7. Purple Wizard strikes again with a kick-ass review.

  8. Sorry, but unless they change gameplay $1.99 for a skin is too much. $.99 or I won’t buy.

    • I agree $1.99 is a bit on the pricey side for a skin, in the end I still enjoyed the Dig-Dug skin, I think that one at least was worth it.

  9. You are absolutely right about the music making it an exhilarating experience in tandem with the gameplay, I wish this was on portables other than iPhones.
    http://grooveshark.com/#!/album/PAC+MAN+Championship+Edition+DX+Original+Soundtrack/5621361

  10. Why not a double review with Robert?!?

  11. So Pac-Man’s been dead for the last 20-30 year except for the last six of them.

    That didn’t make much sense.

    • I’m not sure what you mean. To my knowledge there was no Pac-Man game launched between Pac-Man: CE and Pac-Man: CE DX.

      After reading your comment I went to check Wikipedia just to be sure, but it doesn’t list any games between them

  12. Just saying that Pac-Man’s been doing fine since 1997.

    • What Pac-Man game are you referring to? As far I know there wasn’t any Pac-Man game launched in 1997. Moreover I’d argue the mid-to-late 90s was the absolute lowest point for the franchise. This was when several companies were trying to bring old franchises from the 80s and “updating them” to 3D.

      And from the ones I played they just didn’t mesh.

      • The only good Pac-Man games in the 90’s and early 2000’s were the GBA games, Ms. Pac-Man MAze Madness and Pac-Man World. You can get both on a 2-in-1 GBA cart.

  13. Good review, but I would have like to see you and Robert both review it.

  14. So Pac-Man CE came out

    The Pac-Man CE DX

    Now this is CE DX+

    So when you buy it now do you get all the new content? I know if you had it before, you get a patch which upgrade the game to DX+ (but only if you bought CE DX, right?)

    God, I’m so confused by all this.

    • It’s definitely a bit confusing, but here’s how it works: Pac-Man CE DX+ is a free update for Pac-Man CE DX. It adds some new gameplay features such as challenging as your friends, but really, the biggest addition was the implementation of the DLC.

      I hope this helped clear some confusion.

    • “Luckily, you have a new power-up in the form of a bomb, when used it sends the ghostly rainbow conga-line (I can’t believe I just said that) back to their central holding pen.” Haha, conga-line! Great review 🙂