In 1980, Toru Iwatani created a legendary game and an unforgettable character. Today, GameCube players are treated to the classic gameplay that kept them entertained for hours but with the new element of multiplayer. Pac-Man vs. Pac-Man World 2 proves that simple games can be very fun to play.
Pac-Man vs. is essentially the same game that it was over twenty years ago. However, through the unique connectivity with the GameBoy Advance, the gameplay and strategy elements are drastically increased. One player now controls Pac-Man while the others control the ghosts. The player playing as Pan-Man uses the GBA as the controller while the other players (ghosts) use the regular GC controller. This game only offers play with 2-4 players and a GBA is needed to start up the game. There is no single player option in Pac-Man vs.
Pac-Man has a very simple concept. The goal is to travel through a maze type level and eat every yellow dot on the screen without getting hit by a ghost. It is possible for Pac-Man to turn the tables on the ghosts by eating a bigger yellow dot called a Power Pellet. After a Power Pellet has been eaten, the ghosts slow down and turn blue for a limited time. After a few seconds, the ghosts turn back to normal color and travel and regular speed. The object is to get the highest score possible. There’s no need to elaborate, we’ve all played it before.
Upon booting up the Pac-Man vs. disc, the screen informs the participant to plug in a GBA through the GC to GBA link cable into controller port 4 on the GC. The GBA should not have a game cart plugged in because the game will send information to the GBA and store it in the GBA’s internal RAM. After the power has been turned on and the GC recognizes the GBA, the start up menu pops up. Up to four people can play Pac-Man vs. at the same time with three players playing as ghosts and the other as Pac-Man.
This game is built entirely around the idea of GBA connectivity. The player playing as Pac-Man uses the GBA as his screen while the ghosts use the television. What is the point of playing if everyone can see everyone else’s movements? The answer lies on the GBA’s screen. Since Pac-Man uses the GBA, he can see the entire game board while the ghosts can only see a small portion of the screen. The GBA screen displays the game board very similarly to how it looked in the arcade over two decades ago. The television screen is divided into four parts with each ghost controlling a portion of the screen. The television depicts a 3D rendered world that contains the same structure as the GBA screen. Think of the GBA screen as the small radar in Metal Gear Solid. It is just a simple 2D map that displays the surrounding 3D world.
Ghosts can only see within a limited proximity of their position. However, if the game has only one human controlled ghost, game play is slightly different. Pac-Man vs. now has three ghosts on the game board. The human controlled ghost is assigned a color like Red or Blue while the other ghosts start off as a transparent gray. These gray ghosts roam the game board in a random pattern and will not harm Pac-Man in anyway. To help even the odds, the human controlled color ghost can touch any gray ghost to change its AI to attack Pac-Man. For example, if a red ghost touches a gray ghost, that gray ghost turns red and begins to hunt down Pac-Man. Pac-Man can walk through any gray ghost as if they weren’t there at all. The player playing as the ghost should touch the gray ghosts as soon as possible to help eliminate Pac-Man. This gray ghost gameplay element is also present in three and four player mode. There are always three ghosts on the screen but the number of gray ghosts are determined by the number of human controlled players. Even if the computer is controlling a ghost, that ghost’s screen is still displayed on the television. The player playing as the ghost should be watching every ghost’s screen and keep an eye out for Pac-Man.
If Pac-Man eats a power pellet, he can eat the ghosts for bonus points. Once a ghost has been eaten, he is sent to the middle starting spot of the board. If a colored ghost that was started off as gray is eaten, he will turn back to gray. This means that the human controlled ghost must touch these colorless ghosts again if he wants them on his side.
Pac-Man can also gain bonus points by eating a randomly appearing piece of fruit that pops up at the center of the stage. Adding to the game play, a ghost can also eat the fruit. The ghost that eats the fruit will be rewarded with a wider view of the screen that makes it better to see Pac-Man. This wider view will only be available for a limited time.
Since the object of the game is to reach a specific amount of points, it may seem like the ghosts have a disadvantage because they cannot collect points. Attacking Pac-Man is the key to scoring points. Once a player has managed to find and hit Pac-Man, that player then becomes the next Pac-Man. The player with the GBA then swaps controllers with the person who attacked him. After the new Pac-Man has taken control of the GBA, the Start button needs to be pressed to confirm that the new player is ready. Who ever attacks Pac-Man becomes Pac-Man.
Pac-Man vs. even features a narrator explain the action on screen. This narrator is none other than Nintendo’s Mario. Mario does a great job of explaining what is happening on screen while providing a humorous edge to the game. The music in this game features the same themes and tunes as it did when it was in the arcade. Since this game is essentially old school Pac-Man, the graphics are the same as before. The GBA screen contains the same screen as the arcade did while the TV screen features well-detailed 3D environments. Each game board has a different theme that helps add variety in the game’s visual department.
Pac-Man vs. is a great example of how fun connectivity can be. This is the first game to fully utilize this function. Sure, gamers have used the GBA to GC link in such games as Animal Crossing, Zelda WW, and Crash Bandicoot, but none feature the same depth as this game. This game was made with GBA connectivity as the main feature and Nintendo hopes that other developers will also use this technology to help create deeper games. This game offers replay value because it is different each time you play it, especially with four players. Plus, there are six different board mazes to choose from and many feature warps that send the player to the other side. You can’t really complain about this game because it is fun, and best of all, its free. When you buy the now Player’s Choice game Pac-Man World 2, Pac-Man vs. comes free. Namco’s newest game called I-Ninja is also supposed to have this game as a bonus as well.
In a way, it is strange to play a game that came out over twenty years ago on two systems that cost one hundred dollars each and they have to be connected through a ten-dollar cable. Nintendo and Namco probably realized this so that is why they decided to give it away free. Whatever the reason, I am not complaining because this is a fun multiplayer game that adds depth and strategy to an old classic. Plus, the price of free cannot be beat.