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For: Mobile


Product: Pac-Man (remastered) | Developer: In-house | Publisher: Namco Bandai Networks Europe | Format: Mobile | Genre: Arcade, Retro | Players: 1-4 | Format: J2ME | File size: 431KB | Reviewed on: K800i other handsets | Version: Europe
Pac-Man (remastered) Mobile, thumbnail 1
Some classic games are so revered that you can't touch them with a 35ft bargepole without having a legion of defensive fans on your back. The truth is, though, that some games just don't age very well. Where some cheeses age gracefully into a stinky delicacy, others just go mouldy.

Pac-Man falls into an odd middle ground. It has aged, sure, but it seems to have stopped ageing, at least for now - like a middle-aged bank manager who has suddenly come upon a 2L bottle of the water of eternal life, thanks to one of those scratch cards that fall out of magazines as soon as you pick them up.

It's not so much the look or controls that show Pac-Man up. No, these have been translated in such a pixel-perfect manner from the rock-solid arcade original here that the controls are as responsive as any current game, and the look is far too iconic to seem truly outdated.

It's the difficulty and lack of variety in the levels that expose ye olde Pac-Man's arcade roots. More recent games borrowing from the Pac's gameplay are generally fixed in the casual genre, featuring a truck-load of levels with all sorts of colour schemes, handfuls of semi-contextualised otherworlds, cute characters and virtually by-the-minute save points.

But Pac-Man lives somewhere towards the other end of the gaming rainbow. Not the side where Gears of War fans wax lyrical about their latest unlocked achievements, but a tangential, monochrome offshoot where gamers with blink-less eyes stand, slightly hunched, in front of arcade cabinets, slowly whittling away their eyesight in dimly lit rooms.

To get anywhere near 'into' the gaming experience of Pac-Man, you have to adopt a compulsion for high scores. In each level, you have to collect every one of the 240 Pac Dots, variously avoiding the enemy ghosts and chomping on them after eating one of the four power pellets. Continue, rinse and repeat.

Every level is slightly harder than the last. But, by today's standards, it's a play structure better suited to compulsives and masochists than your everyday gamer.

This version of Pac-Man is a coin of two sides, though. The single player game may be best suited for those whose critical faculties have been softened by memories of the original, but the multiplayer mode is easy to recommend to anyone.

It works using Bluetooth and allows up to four players to connect to a single game. You take it in turns to play as Pac-Man himself, or one of the four ghosts. Once Pac-Man has been caught, the positions rotate.

However, if you're playing as a ghost, you can only see a small radius around your character until almost all the Pac Dots have been collected. In multiplayer, the lack of truly different levels dissipates in a glorious Pac-based deathmatch.

It evokes the sort of multiplayer gaming experience that is all too rare, in mobile or otherwise - actually playing a game in the same room as your friends, a game that doesn't involve shooting baddies in some war-themed scenario.

In short, the multiplayer is F-U-N.

Of course, once you start multiplying the cost of the copies you'd actually have to buy to get yourself and three friends in on one game, you're getting dangerously close to a lower-end console price tag.

Nevertheless, the multiplayer experience is well worth sampling, as it's one of the best on mobile. If you won't be able to play with friends Pac-Man is still a solid re-working of the original, but if you have no affinity for the arcade classic you may well have more fun elsewhere.
Reviewer photo
Simon Briggs | 10 December 2008
A great multiplayer mode complements the classic single player mode beautifully. Knock a couple of points off our score if you're not able to play with friends, though
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