Earlier in the year, Pac-Man: Championship Edition 2+ graced the Nintendo Switch as the folks at Bandai Namco have continued their support for the console. I remember when it was initially announced, and thought the trailer looked so darn cool. My hype faded when I realized I had nothing to play the game on. It dropping onto the Switch was fantastic news, and surely enough, I picked up the game when it came out. I wish there was a physical release like the Playstation 4 and Xbox One versions, but just having this title is enough to satisfy me.
I am one of the biggest Pac-Man fans I know; I’ve followed the franchise since playing the Ms. Pac-Man/Galaga arcade cabinet at a bowling alley, and I’ve since owned all sorts of Namco compilations and entries like the Pac-Man World series among other games the yellow guy starred in. While his outings aren’t as consistent in structure as Mario and Sonic, I always look forward to what comes next. I’ve already heard good things about Championship Edition 2 when it came out on platforms, though, so my interest was already there prior to my purchase. I still am personally waiting for a Pac-Man World 4 to exist, but who am I to pass up on some good ol’ arcade-style fun?
I don’t know who thought to turn Pac-Man into a neon paradise back in 2007, The people that came up with it sure had the right idea. Pac-Man: Championship Edition 2+ is a visual wonderland of glitzy walls and mesmerizing motion. If you grow a little tired of this look, there are many other graphical change-ups that can show up in Adventure and be applied in Score Attack. This ranges from styles inspired by Pac-Mania and Galaga to other cool ways Pac-Man and the ghosts could be envisioned. There are no Ghostly Adventures themes though; thank goodness for that.
I’m not always terribly fond of games that stick with a single genre of music, but Pac-Man: Championship Edition 2+ knocks the score out of the freakin’ park! This game boasts a techno-induced soundtrack and I love it to death. There are variations of each song that go up to ten whole minutes, and I willingly listen the whole way through because they are so amazingly catchy. In-game, the music goes perfectly well with the neon flair and speedy chaos. Outside the game, it’s like a rave is going off in my head and I don’t want to put an end to it.
The classic sound effects also return in full force, with some subtle echoes added to mix it with the techno theme the game is coated in. A special mention goes to the ghost-chomping, because there is nothing more satisfying in this game than hearing this sound repeatedly go off in rapid succession.
On its surface, Pac-Man: Championship Edition 2+ continues the idea of its predecessor. You are looking at a massively spruced up version of Pac-Man, and the way it is spruced up is via a giant emphasis on fast-paced score chasing coated with a rad techno style. However, the game structures itself differently in a way that gives it its own special feel. The game’s speed is a lot faster in general; the arcade games feel like they move at a snail’s pace compared to this (barring the fact some cabinets are set so Pac moves really fast).
You start out eating up dots like usual, but doing so fills up a meter that – when filled it triggers a fruit or a Power Pellet to appear. There are four long chains of ghosts, but bumping into them doesn’t hurt due to how fast everything is. Only if the head ghost is annoyed by the bumping does it become an object you desperately need to avoid. The real threat in this game is the timer. In a way, bumping into ghosts is still a problem if it means taking precious seconds off your run. Fortunately, the elements are balanced in a way that provides a kinetic rhythm for players to follow along. Keeping this rhythm going is the name of the game, and Championship Edition 2+ wears this formula strongly.
There are also plenty of ways this formula can be experienced. The Score Attack is the highlight of the bunch, but Adventure Mode has a big dose of levels for the hardcore players to tackle. This Switch version adds multiplayer modes for two people to take on together, but I don’t have anyone else that’d play this with me, let alone one that would react as accordingly as the game demands. However anyone plays, the way it’s played remains the same: Pac-Man on hyper speed with all the aforementioned gameplay elements that come to fruition. It isn’t flawless; some Adventure levels can be a little too demanding for their own good while the boss battles are pretty lame. The core gameplay is too great to have things like that deter its staying power.
Pac-Man: Championship Edition 2 is a great modern take on the classic arcade formula. It’s intense, it’s addicting, and it’s really fun! Frustration may kick in when being unable to reach a certain goal or score, but mastering the rhythm of the game’s neon mazes proves to be ultimately rewarding. It’s also an ideal fit for the Switch; the portable, accessible nature of the console makes it so much easier to kill some time by racking up points.
Copy purchased by reviewer