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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Subject: PacMan Championship Edition
So I bought another Xbox 360, to replace the one that died on me a week after receiving it for xmas 2006.  I'd always had it in my mind to get another system, since I still owned Gears of War and a Live headset, but I couldn't bring myself to pick up another system since they were so prone to failure and so expensive in Australia.

The other reason I really wanted one was PacMan.

[Image: http://nfggames.com/games/PacManCE/PacTitle.png]

I loved PacMan as a kid, I played the shit out of it.  And then I loved Ms PacMan, and Super PacMan, and...  well that's more or less where it ended.  I played a bit of Jr. PacMan, and some Baby PacMan, and then Pac n Pal, Pac Land, PacMania...  Namco kind of flogged that dead horse a little too long, I think. 

[Image: http://nfggames.com/games/PacManCE/PacClose1.png]

But now, finally, they've done good by the old yellow man.  PacMan Championship Edition is a bloody great game.  It fixes everything that was stale about the original, adds new gameplay challenges without fucking up the original formula, puts in a few new game variations that - again - avoid breaking what made the game fun, and then they bundle it all up into a tiny little ball and release it on Xbox Live.

[Image: http://nfggames.com/games/PacManCE/PacScreen1.png]

The original game has not aged well.  Like Taito's Space Invaders, what was once entertaining and world-beating has become slow and boring.  Even while PacMan was still new it was deemed slow, which is partially why Ms PacMan was released, and even that saw bootleg'd speedup chips installed.  And this was rectified officially in PacMan CE: the game is faster.  There are several game modes, and some start slow and get faster, and some start fast and get faster still. 

[Image: http://nfggames.com/games/PacManCE/PacScreen2.png]

The original was too long.  Partially as a result of playing slowly, it could take ten or fifteen minutes just to get to the good part, so they fixed this too: PacMan CE is comprised of short time-trial games limited to five or ten minutes each.  That's it: You try to stay alive until the time runs out and hopefully beat your old score.  It's exactly the kind of 'casual game' I can approve of: one simple mechanic honed to a shining perfection, with simple controls and a concept that is immediately easy to grasp.

I mean, check out the control scheme:

[Image: http://nfggames.com/games/PacManCE/ControlScheme.png]

Just move.  There are no buttons to press.

And speaking of movement...  How the hell did Microsoft make the single worst d-pad since the 3DO?  It's not as if there's a dearth of precedent to draw from here!  Shockingly PacMan, a game that has always relied on a 4-way joystick, plays better on the 360 when you use the analogue stick.  Make no mistake: it's nigh unplayable with the digital pad, but close to sublime with the analogue stick.  Of course my father's first reaction was to complain that the whole game was moot without an original Atari stick to play with...

[Image: http://nfggames.com/games/PacManCE/PacScreen3.png]

PacMan CE always plays as if you're about to clear a level.  The game doles out the dots as you eat the previous set, so when you eat the last dots on the right side of the screen a bonus item on the left side will re-fill the right side with more dots, and often rearrange the maze as well.  So you're always eating the last few dots, you're always in a new (often asymmetrical) maze, and as the game is constantly getting faster and faster, you're always slipping into panic mode as you try to stay alive, beat the clock, and rack up a new high score.

[Image: http://nfggames.com/games/PacManCE/PacClose2.png]

PacManCE is the last game to be designed by the original PacMan creator, Toru Iwatani.  After reprising his original creation, he retired.  Now that's what I call a last hurrah. 

It totally gets the NFG thumbs UP.

(screenshots lifted from xbox.com)
BLEARGH
This post was edited 2 times, last on 2008-04-27, 13:57 by NFG.
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Member since Nov 2007 · 121 posts
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I find Mr Driller Drill Land on GC a lot easier/more controllable/less annoying with the analog stick. Mainly because the company that made a masterful d-pad for the Super Famicom made a stiff, mushy shadow of it for the N64 then miniaturised it so far that even I , with my tiny girly hands, had trouble with it sometimes.
"...either stop and think or fuck right off" (TheOutrider)
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Member since Oct 2007 · 316 posts
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Pac Man CE is the definitive reason to have a 360. With the DRM problems being such a barrier to effective replacement of failed hardware, it was important enough to me to hunt down the pack-in disk that shipped with the 360 Arcade unit (the new one without a hard drive.) That way I can play the game on any console without having to worry about validating a download, since my copy of based on physical media.

I'm not completely sold on the game as a whole, though. My strategy back in the day was to play conservatively, hanging back and exploiting opportunities to clear the board without taking too many dumb risks. As all versions of the Championship Edition are always based on a countdown clock, that style of play has been completely negated. Also, some of the old strategy no longer applies, like dying on purpose to reset ghost aggression or learning the segments of the maze that are one-way for the ghosts.
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Argh!  Is there any fucking way to turn off the fucking awful fucking music in this game?  It drowns out the awesome, blissful sound effects!!

Argh!

Oh, and I just read Tim Rogers review of PacMan:CE.  It has some flashes of brilliance I had to share:

Holy shit, this is a hell of a videogame. Toru Iwatani, before walking out of Namco, put his balls on the table, and holy shit, that’s a lot of balls.

Pac-Man CE nails the flow: the action never stops, and by staying alive, you start to feel like a hero. Every successful outwitting of ghosts, every eight-ghost combo scored, every time sparks shoot from Pac-Man’s body as he grinds around a corner, you want to pump your fist.

Being hunted by ghosts and escaping would-be run-downs is such a glimmering, pure experience that no car-chase in any 3D videogame can touch its primal thrills of success.
BLEARGH
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Aha!  If you play your own music, then STOP IT, the game's own music never comes back!

This is AWESOME.
BLEARGH
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Subject: Custom Xbox 360 Joystick
Because PacMan CE is the greatest Xbox 360 game, and because the Xbox 360 pad is a sparkling affront to the gods themselves, I set out to make a better controller.

Now, the best controller I have in the arsenal right now is a deleriously cool, but decidedly OLD Competition Pro.  In order to make it work on a 360 I had to, basically, solder a bunch of wires to the guts of a 360 pad, then slap a connector on the end of those wires for the new stick to plug into.

Basically, instead of using the switches already in the pad - UP/DOWN/LEFT/RIGHT/FIRE - I made an extension cord of sorts so that the switches in the stick are used instead.

After six hours of fucking around with the damned thing I had soldered 30 wires, melted one hole into the controller, and created the grandest 360 pad known to man.

Click the image for more gory details!

[Image: http://gamesx.com/grafx/360atari/d.jpg]
BLEARGH
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Member since May 2011 · 2485 posts · Location: Brisbane
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Subject: Interview with PacMan CE Creator
There's a new interview with producer Nobutaka Nakajima and director Tadashi Iguchi over on GamaSutra.

Quote by The Article:
The key, Iwatani would say, is that simplicity makes it endearing and compelling, and not bogging it down with extra this-and-that. We're just getting to the core, and making sure the core is well-structured and well-thought out, and will create an everlasting game or fun experience to continually replay.
BLEARGH
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Subject: Missed sale(;_;)
Amazon had PacMan CE on sale for half off! I was unsure and missed out, although i did purchase Galaga Legions.
I knew i should have purchased i, the screens for Pacman did look fun.

P.S. noob to this forum, looks great! great info
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