Review: Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 (3DS)

Pac is back with another solid platformer for kids.

By Andy Hoover. Posted 11/10/2014 09:00 1 Comment     ShareThis
The Final Grade
1-Up Mushroom for...
Varied and diverse gameplay, fantastic boss fights, presentation is true to the source material
Poison Mushroom for...
Vehicle levels are a little on the slow side, soundtrack is entirely forgettable, inconsistent auto lock-on and camera occasionally frustrates

I had the opportunity to review the Wii U version of last year’s Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures and it proved to be a surprisingly enjoyable experience. The 3DS version from last year was its own experience, opting for 2D side-scrolling action instead of the 3D adventure offered in its home console brethren, but this year it is a much more similar experience. Thankfully, the end result is similarly enjoyable.

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 is once again based on the kid-friendly TV series, now in its second season, so a familiarity with the source material helps with overall enjoyment, but this iteration does a better job of standing on its own. The plot falls well short of matching Shakespeare, but it does a good job of moving the game along and I could easily see it serving as the story for an episode. The visuals throughout cut-scenes and gameplay are also quite good looking, well animated, and colorful. The experience is helped by strong voice acting that fits the tone and energy of a good kid’s show and a script that has a few legitimate, if not somewhat juvenile, laughs. Altogether, I think it does a better job of offering a higher quality experience that is more true to the show than last year’s game.

The core gameplay mechanics will be instantly familiar to anyone who played last year’s Wii U version, but they are put to better use this time around. The game is a fairly traditional third person platformer with a core set of moves along with several power-ups that shake things up. In his normal form, Pac-Man has the usual repertoire of jumps, double jumps, and basic attacks, which is a lunging bite move used to devour ghosts. The various power-ups are activated by consuming fire, ice, chameleon, metal, rock, or bouncy pellets. Fire pellets gives Pac-Man the ability to throw fire balls that stun enemies and to glide on what equates to a flying fire surfboard. Ice pellets allow our hero to freeze enemies and obstacles, either to defeat them or to create new platforms. The chameleon pellet gives Pac-Man a sticky, extendable tongue that can be used to stick to, and swing from particular poles to cross certain gaps. The metal pellet gives Pac-Man magnetic powers which allow him draw in distant foes, and stick to certain metal platforms regardless of its orientation. The rock pellet turns Pac-Man into a large spherical stone, thus turning the game into something more reminiscent of Marble Madness or Super Monkey Ball. Finally, the bouncy pellet lets Pac-Man jump higher, wall jump, and slam into the ground to break certain crates and bounce of springs.

All of these powers were in the last game, but their use has been expanded and the game puts a much greater emphasis on using them. The previous game would devote almost entire levels to certain powers, but this game places a greater emphasis on switching up between powers over the course of each level. Once you get through the first few worlds, you will rarely find yourself playing as Pac-Man in his base form and constantly switch powers as the game throws different obstacles in your path. This constant rotation of powers and obstacles helps the game’s pacing and lends a greater feeling of variety. Furthermore, the types of obstacles have been expanded to take better advantage of the various powers; I especially liked the rock pellet areas that pretty much have you playing on a pinball board.

The change I most enjoyed is the vast improvement to the boss fights. The games five worlds each end in a unique, multi-part boss fight that are a blast to play and a pleasure to behold. For example, the first world ends with Pac-Man consuming a pellet that grows him to the size of a building so he can do battle with a giant robot. Later levels include a bare-knuckle brawl with a Pacosaurus Rex, jumping among asteroids while battling a large alien UFO, and an epic table-tennis inspired dual. The developers probably could have made these encounters a little more challenging, but they are still plenty of fun, even for someone two decades older than the target audience.

The overall feeling of greater variety is assisted by the inclusion of vehicle levels that are a rather obvious homage to Star Fox. These levels are few in number and spaced out rather far apart, but I’m glad they don’t show up too frequently because the core gameplay is more enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, these level are kind of fun and work well enough, but they feel way too slow. Yes, this game is made for younger gamers, but the vehicle levels, and the game as a whole, is easy enough that they could probably handle it with little issue. Regardless, it is nice to have the variety.

While the developers have obviously made strides in improving the gameplay variety and presentation, several of my major issues with the previous game remain. The biggest problem at hand is the inconsistent auto lock-on and camera that is used heavily throughout combat and certain platforming elements. The game is forgiving and lives and health are plentiful enough that this should never be a major issue, but you will still find your self plummeting to your death far too often at no fault of your own. I did also encounter a few glitches; most were simple visual quirks but I did have one instance where I fell into an abyss, and was then caught in an unending loop of being spawned back in beneath the playable area, thus forcing me to restart the level from the beginning as there is no “Restart from Checkpoint” option in the menu.

Of course, it is also worth discussing the overall value proposition of Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 which, like its predecessor, I beat in roughly six hours. Last year’s console game had unlockable minigames and multiplayer, but neither were really worth your time. Instead, the developers have chosen to put a greater emphasis on replayability with achievements, hidden challenge areas in some levels, and end of level scores that award bronze, silver, or gold medals based on points and multipliers earned by finding hidden collectibles, eating pellets, and defeating enemies. Personally, I prefer playing through the levels again than trying out half-baked minigames.

Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 ultimately proves just as easy to recommend to children as its predecessor and generally provides what we expect from a good sequel. While it is true I would have enjoyed seeing even more changes and evolution, especially with the same issues that plagued last year’s game, I cannot deny the fact that the developers obviously made a concerted effort to deliver a better game. In some ways I feel like I am parroting myself from last year, but what we have here is another great game for kids. It might not present the level of challenge or tone to appeal to adults, but I wouldn’t label it a waste of time for them, either.

Oh, and like last year, I must also ask why they didn’t include the original Pac-Man on the cartridge, which I still think should be on there.

Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.

One Response to “Review: Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 (3DS)”

  • 1288 points
    Robert Marrujo says...

    I’m glad this sequel is fun, but I’m somewhat disappointed that Namco ditched the 2D gameplay from the first 3DS Pac game. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a successfully unusual mixture of different mechanics from other series that managed to work. Ah, well.

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