Bandai Namco’s mascot has been through some weird times. For every Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, which wildly misses the mark, we get gems like Pac-Man Championship Edition that evolve the original arcade game’s gameplay in meaningful and exhilarating ways. Nearly a decade on from that game’s original release Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 attempts to tweak the formula for a compelling arcade experience.
One thing that hasn’t changed at all is the psychedelic visuals and the varied music. As in the previous Pac-Man Championship Edition titles, you are able to customise which visual style and which background track plays during your Score Attack runs. All tracks are based off classic Bandai Namco games, but remixed into an eclectic mix of Electro, J-Synth, and Deep House among other genres; it’s a soundtrack that emphasises the high intensity of the action on screen.
Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 reinvents the core gameplay once more. Much like Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, points are racked up by collecting the pellets, as well as stacking a massive conga line of ghosts woken up from their slumber. The difference is the main ghosts now act as leaders for the conga line, so when one line of ghosts is eventually eaten, the disturbed ghosts now join a subsequent ghost until all are eaten.
It’s a relatively simple change, but it makes for a far more menacing take on the game. Luckily, touching ghosts doesn’t spell the loss of a life. Instead, you normally have three bumps in quick succession with a ghost before they get angry and actively hunt you down. This mechanic in particular is open to abuse as you can just barge your way through to collecting the next piece of fruit and generate a new arrangement of pellets.
Occasionally you’ll be aiming to guzzle a power pellet instead of fruits. This will make the lead ghosts follow a set route which is always highlighted. They can turn where there is a crossroads, but it does enable you to intercept a ghost in order to eat all the others. When eating the last big ghost, there is a lovely 3D rendering of Pac-Man having a buffet as he chomps his way through the line of ghosts.
Bombs also make a return, sending Pac-Man back to a safe point upon activation, while you can also put on the brakes to make him stop. Both these tools are vital for obtaining the highest possible score. There’s also an added layer of challenge in that fruit and power pellets can be encased in bubbles which allow them to run away from you. With ten courses available with three difficulty settings, there are multiple incentives to try to obtain the highest score.
Adventure Mode is eventually unlocked, challenging the player with tighter time limits for a higher number of stars. At the end of each world is a “boss battle”, where the emphasis is much like the base game, but with the number of lives remaining affecting your final rating. Given how this is the occasion where monsters go berserk when the fruit is available, this mode is a supremely challenging affair, with little margin for error to obtain that third star or the maximum rating in boss battles.
That is all that can really be said for Pac-Man Championship Edition 2; it’s not exactly the biggest game when it comes to features. Score Attack and Adventure mode do enough to warrant a look, but there’s little to keep players around for more than a few hours, unless you’re really determined to chase high scores time and time again.
Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 is simply an incredibly fun and addictive arcade experience that once again reinvents the arcade classic in a compelling way. The visual style feels timeless, looking as great as it did back in 2007. I sincerely hope that Bandai Namco has more tricks up its sleeve with their back catalogue, perhaps even a Dig Dug Championship Edition? I can only dream!
Version Tested: PlayStation 4