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Pac-Man World Re-PAC Edition review: Chomping at ghosts

Pac-Man World Re-PAC Edition is a solid remake that's only worth the trip for those who were there, and even then, maybe wait for Game Pass or a sale?

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Pac-Man World Re-PAC Edition contains some of the best and worst parts of late 90’s-era level design and gameplay, making it a nostalgic trip for those that vaguely remember, but there’s nothing noteworthy for newcomers that hasn’t been done far better somewhere else.

Pac-Man swimming underwater, beneath a dock, about to collect a health restoring item.

Source: Shacknews

Though there are some early moments in Pac-World Re-PAC Edition that would be impressive, if it were closer to the original game’s 1999 release, but the game’s highs barely scratch the clouds of the era, let alone the heights. Re-PAC Edition will likely entertain thirty and forty-somethings for a few levels or so, but it won’t take long before the game sends you PAC-ing.

Pac-Party like it’s 1999

Pac-Man running toward the camera while on striped, funhouse-themed platforms. Pac-Man is smiling.

Source: Shacknews

Pac-Man World Re-PAC Edition is a remake of the PS1 title, Pac-Man World, which was the first 3D-adventure adaptation that the Namco mascot had seen. Re-PAC Edition does admittedly bring the original, jagged polygons and faded colors into the current console generation with great results, but the same can’t be said for the level structure and boss battles.

Pac-Man World starts out really cute and simple, which is when things work the best. The opening cutscene shows Pac-Man’s family and friends being pac-napped by the evil Toc-Man.

The game’s opening levels feature a variety of interesting locations, even dodging some of the familiar genre tropes, like levels almost entirely dedicated to ice and water. The game’s hub world splits the levels into three sections; the first area contains the Pirate, Ruins, and Space worlds; the second contains the Funhouse and Factory worlds; and lastly, the third section contains the final section, the Mansion world. And while the location descriptions likely elicit excited feelings of adventure and wonder, most levels are uninteresting at best, but more often, confusing, frustrating, and a chore to get through.

Best left in the past

Pac-Man is shown looking at a series of platforms with hazards he will need to maneuver around. The camera is zoomed out, giving the player a view of everything on screen.

Source: Shacknews

Fortunately for returning players looking for nostalgia or curious newcomers, Pac-Man World’s best levels are available right from the start. The Pirate and Space worlds are phenomenal and if money wasn’t real, I’d say everyone should play them. The six levels across the two sections are exciting, colorful, and remind me of better games that share the same goals and vibes, such as Super Mario 3D Land and Klonoa: Door to Phantomile.

Jogging and jumping down pirate-themed boat marinas while cannonballs whizz past Pac-Man and swimming to uncover cute, little fruits, hidden away in pretty, blue water is what late 90’s platformers are all about. It’s exciting. It’s fun. Hell, even the music in this section is good, which isn’t something that can be said about the rest of the game. Pirate stuff is just cool and it’s even cooler when you’re Pac-Man and bouncing off of parrots wearing bandanas.

Running across holographic, light bridges in space literally couldn’t be cooler. Give me three Pac-Man games, all set in space, right now, and I’ll play them all. Bouncing on the heads of cute, little alien guys and dodging lasers is only outdone by the Galaga-inspired boss fight, which has Pac-Man dodging asteroids and lasers while battling it out against King Galaxian.

Pac-Man is hanging off a ledge, narrowly avoiding death

Source: Shacknews

Those two areas are nothing short of incredible but the game’s other eleven levels are just too much of a mixed bag to be much fun. I love the colors of the Funhouse world, and how purple and spooky the Mansion levels are, but most of Pac-Man World’s level design, gameplay, and ideas fall flat, no matter how many round, yellow dots the game tries to distract you with.

It’s not that Pac-Man World doesn’t try to be cool or fun. But snatching up peaches, butt-bouncing on switches, and chomping up ghosts and dots is only fun when it works. And things only really work well when they’re short and simple in Pac-Man World.

A pirate’s life for Pac-Man

 Pac-Man is taking up the entire frame and frowning.

Source: Shacknews

Buccaneer Beach is the first numeric level of Pac-Man World. The level highlights Pac-Man’s abilities with signposts, followed by immediate gameplay moments, giving players a chance to not only commit it to memory but also get the satisfaction of doing the thing. These actions are simple but promising in what they all provide, especially when brought together.

Pac-Man has the standard platformer moves, including running left, right, and back, with a modest and relatively forgiving jump. He can also toss pac-dots he picks up, either single, little splats or charged up blasts, the latter method taking longer to charge but also providing a capable amount of firepower. There’s also the Pac-Dash, which allows Pac-Man to move quickly in whichever direction the player aims him. This can allow the player to get out of danger or move up an inclined surface but really isn’t very helpful overall.

The best ability in Pac-Man’s arsenal is the butt-bounce, which can be used effectively for platformer precision and combat collision. It’s one of the best parts of Pac-Man World and I wish more games would just riff off of Scrooge McDuck’s walking stick, pogo-bounce ability from the DuckTales game.

Pac-Man sitting in a Go-Kart, excited but also curious.

Source: Shacknews

The enemy count and placement, along with how different platforms and hazards are put together, make Buccaneer Beach feel like some sort of cool pirate-and-Pac-Man-themed LEGO set. Obviously the environments are meant to trick or trip up the player but there’s still a sense of life to every screen of Buccaneer Beach, and the other levels of both the Pirate and Space sections.

Things were simple enough to where Pac-Man’s abilities were able to add to my experience, should I feel the need to call on them, but more often than that, I was just fine and capable with the standard jumping, walking, running, and butt-bouncing, as I collected fruit, opened doors, hit switches, and found my way to level exits.

I could bounce up and down, explore underwater, and climb atop tucked away ledges and find either adventure or a shiny collectible I needed for either level progression or game completion.

I just stopped caring

Pac-Man hangs off a ledge while three, flame-spewing enemies, made of stone, rotate, covering the area in flames.

Source: Shacknews

But when jumps start to require just a little more precision or enemies employ more than the standard Super Mario Goomba strategy, Pac-Man starts to unravel, un-pac-ing the game’s issues, spreading them across levels that don’t even feel as inspired as the first LEGO set-esque hits. This is when I found myself bouncing more and more, dodging not just the increased hordes of enemies but also across the game’s levels themselves, eager to find the level’s end and no longer interested in bunches of bananas or keys necessary for saving Pac-Man’s family and friends.

Hell, instead of adventure

A Pac-Man silhouette is closing in around Pac-Man, after the player just lost their final life.

Source: Shacknews

Platformers are supposed to be exciting to play and explore. Levels are meant to entice players, beckoning them closer to secret passages and challenging rewards. I think platformers are done and no longer achieving their goal when players stop caring about finding little unlocks and instead start seeing fewer reasons to continue on, after repeatedly meeting the Game Over Screen.

I finished Pac-Man World Re-PAC Edition in about twelve hours and probably only enjoyed the first two hours and hitting the credits. Unless you’re a fan of the original game, you should skip this remake of Pac-Man World Re-PAC Edition. Running across pirate ships and floating through outer space aside, this game is not worth your money or time, and it’s pretty hard to recommend playing a video game for its first six levels and two bosses.

I’m glad Pac-Man World Re-PAC Edition exists. It holds an important place in my heart and I love old platformers but too many of the game’s levels just feel dedicated to getting the player lost or wiping out their life count, and that just doesn’t make for a good video game, no matter how colorful or cute it is.

Not enough value

Pac-Man World Re-PAC Edition might be worth checking out if you’re extremely curious about the game, genre, or even the time period it comes from, but there are just better games to spend your time with. If you insist then just try to get it on sale, or better yet, during its inevitable visit to Xbox Game Pass before making its way to the bargain bin.


This review is based on an Xbox Series X|S digital code provided by the publisher. Pac-Man World Re-PAC Edition is available now for Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC (Steam) for $29.99 USD. The game is rated E.

Contributing Editor

Juno is hopelessly addicted to horror films, Scooby-Doo, Nirvana, and sitting outside under a ledge during heavy rainfall when she isn’t writing or thinking about how cute frogs are. You can also find her work all around the internet and other places, or follow her on Twitter @junostump.

Pros
  • Early levels are simple and fun
  • The remake itself is solid
Cons
  • Levels often feel padded with difficulty
  • Pac-Man rarely feels capable
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