Birthed from a brainstorming session between Nintendo and Namco, PacMan Vs. puts an original spin on a classic that everyone knows and loves. Well, anyone whoís been an enthusiastic gamer at least in some point of their life.
What is there to say? Itís a simple match made in heaven - put PacMan on the GameCube, and use the ďconnectivityĒ of the system in a way that makes the gimmick an innovational tool. Before you read the rest of this review, be forewarned: you have to have a GameCube, a GBA of some flavor, and a few friends to get the most out of Vs..
Yeah, yeah - I know friends are a novel concept, but letís keep things rolling.
The original PacMan is a complete one-player experience; all you have to do is run PacMan through his labyrinth, munching on pellets whilst avoiding ghosts. Then there are power pellets, which give you the chance to turn the tables, and chase down the nefarious critters who so abused you in the past. The sole purpose of playing never involves a plot - itís all about the score, the feeling of accomplishment, and the killing of time.
Now Shigeru Miyamoto, father of Mario and many things Nintendo, gets this grand idea; why not put control of the ghosts into the hands of other players? He and an EAD staff work on a demo as a pitch to Namco. Namco loves it. Namco loves us. PacMan Vs. is born. Itís a real simple child, too. Take the arcade game, throw it onto the GBA, then give three other players share of a TV and control of the ghosts via the GameCube. Put it altogether with that wacky connectivity and watch the original one-player experience turn into a trash-talking, competitive romp.
Itís simplicity at its best. Each GameCube-controlled player gets only a small circle to play from, with their ghost taking up most of the 3D view. This means no chance of seeing the entire level, which means no cheating. On the GBA, a player gets control of PacMan in his original glory, with full view of the maze, power pellets to grab, and ghosts to dodge. So itís the job of the ghosts to find PacMan, and PacManís job to do what he does best.
Adding to the competitive flavor is the inclusion of tag-based gameplay. Whoever catches PacMan first gets to play as him the next time around. Being that you can set a score goal before playing, itís only natural to want to be PacMan as soon as possible - thatís where all the points are. Plus, if you die no matter what you control, you lose points. So the moral of the story: donít die. And catch PacMan.
Thatís all there is to it. Nintendo had intended PacMan Vs. as a demo for Namco, but now itís available for free with purchase of PacMan World 2, the saddest excuse of a platformer Iíve seen for the GameCube. One the bright side, the bundle deal is $20, which means PacMan Vs. for cheap, and aÖmini-coaster of some sort. Not a bad deal for a unique spin on a timeless classic.
· · · Kevin Cameron