Review: Pac-Man (3DS Virtual Console)

3 mins read
More interesting than this version of the game.

For $Aus6 you’re getting an inferior, colourless version of Pac-Man. I would start and finish my review there, but that would not be doing justice to how cynical and disrespectful this release is for Pac-Man fans, so I feel obliged to go that extra mile.

Before we start though – has everyone played a version of Pac-Man before? It’s one of those games that doesn’t need an explanation on how it plays. If you’re in that tiny minority that hasn’t, do yourself a favour and go find a free version on the Internet to try it out. Namco Bandai has released a free version on Facebook, even.

So let’s skip on the gameplay introduction, and start on why this is an inferior version. Beyond the lack of colour, the nature of the Game Boy’s technical limitations meant that the action needed to be zoomed right in – you’re only seeing a fraction of the maze at a time. It’s easy enough in the early stages to forgive this, but as the high scores start to rack up and everything gets faster Pac-Man is the kind of game where you need to know where the ghosts are, and the dots that you haven’t eaten yet. The inability to see a zoomed out playing field will lead to some unnecessary deaths.

You can forget about having anything but the basic game here too. There’s no alternative play modes, no variety in the levels (it’s just the standard Pac-Man maze), and no leaderboards – the game only tracks your best score. To rub salt into the wound, like every other Game Boy game on the Virtual Console so far, the 2-player game, which would have at least added a competitive element if you could find a friend willing to play this with you, has been removed.

The game itself plays reasonably well, though the 3DS D-pad is a little too tough for long play periods, and the circle pad isn’t quite responsive enough, but the real problem is that’s it. That’s the entire package.

I know I initially said that I wouldn’t complain about the inflated prices for Virtual Console games, but this deserves special mention since, at $6, it isn’t even a cheap Virtual Console game. This is an offensive attempt to con Pac-Man faithful into buying something that is only marginally better than useless. Considering there’s an entire retail Pac-Man (and Galaga) collection available now, there is quite literally no reason whatsoever to get this game.

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