For some odd reason, Namco is wildly persistent on re-inventing Pac-Man to make him “relevant” and “hip” for a new generation. Whether be through giving him the Mario 64/Sonic Adventure treatment, pairing him up with Adam Sandler, or making him say this, they’ve tried literally everything. And today, we’ll be taking a look at one of the more obscure attempts – one that dates all the way back to the early-to-mid 90’s, to be exact, in Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures.
Released in 1994 for the Genesis and the Super Nintendo, the game’s plot revolves around none other than that dot-munching ghost-chomping yellow sphere, as he embarks on a series of epic quests, which consist of:
-Getting milk for his baby daughter
-Picking a flower
-Retrieving his son’s stolen guitar
-Finding out why the Ghosts have stolen all of the locals’ bubblegum
….okay, so these quests are anything but “epic”. That can’t possibly be an indication of the quality of this game, can it? Let’s find out, shall we?
THE LOOKS: I’d like to say that for something that’s based around one of the most visually simplistic arcade games ever made, the graphics are quite pleasing. Unlike most other games at the time, the graphics have a more sophisticated nature, eschewing fantastical wacky worlds and just going with towns, neighborhoods, and the like. Granted, while everyday locations might not seem exactly fit for a video game, it’s nice to see something that goes for this kind of approach. On the other hand, most of the character sprites by themselves are good, but for a Pac-Man game, there’s something about them that just rubs me the wrong way. I guess they were trying to go for a Roger Rabbit-esque style in which there’s cartoon characters living amongst humans, but the reason why it worked in that film is because it was live-action. When you bring it into a 2D environment like this game, it kind of goes against what the concept was trying to convey in the first place. Still, it does it a lot better than Sonic 06, that’s for sure.
THE SOUND: Going along rather fittingly with the graphics, the music has a more quaint aesthetic to it when compared to other games at the time. While there are some moments where they can be kind of annoying, the tracks as a whole are actually fairly well-composed and even a bit hummable. Of course, they’re no masterpieces, but they still manage to get the job done in a nicely fashion.
THE GAMEPLAY: I would just like to say that in concept, the gameplay isn’t bad by any means. Essentially, it wants to be a hybrid of a Saturday morning cartoon and a video game, where you have to watch a character as they go through several locations while making sure they don’t land themselves in any shenanigans in the process. While it does sound like something that could be as entertaining as it is interesting, it also sounds like something than can be screwed up pretty badly if not done right, and unfortunately it falls into the latter. The main problem with the gameplay is that it’s just so boring. Most of the time, you’re just guiding Pac-Man around trying to keep him out of trouble, but due to how uncooperative he can be, it just becomes mind-numbingly frustrating and tedious! Oh, and I’m not joking when I say “uncooperative”. At times, it’s so difficult trying to keep him focused or out of a mood that it kind of becomes something of a lost cause. While there are some segments that break the pace of the game (as seen on the cover, there’s a segment in which you take control of a hang-glider), they aren’t very fun and are more of a hassle than anything.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Though it does have good intentions, Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures ends up falling flat in the long run, making for one frustrating and boring experience. I can see why this game has its’ fans, but it really just isn’t for me.
THE RETR0PIA RANKING: C-