Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Pac-Man World Rally review

I think everyone knows who Pac-Man is. Run around maze, eat pellets, dodge ghosts, everyone knows it and everyone loves it. But did you know there were three games released on the PS1 and PS2 that turned that into a 3D platformer? It's true! They were all very good games and a lot of people played them (Except for the third one, nobody played that.) and they were successful enough to get a kart racing game based on them. This is what Pac-Man World Rally is.

Story-N/A: Like most racing games, there isn't a story. Unlike the last two, I can't talk about interesting development, or the character selection. I could talk about the new TV show that's airing, but that's a whole other article right there.

Gameplay-8/10: The game is pretty much like most other kart racing games, race around tracks, pick up items, find shortcuts, and come in first. It does do some rather interesting things but I'll save those for a bit later.

The game has a total of 15 playable characters. These, of course, include Pac-Man, the four ghosts, and Ms. Pac-Man, but there are a few interesting additions. Since this game is specifically based on the Pac-Man World series, the villains from those three games appear as playable characters. There are also three unlockable characters which I will get to. One interesting thing about the cast is that there are as many characters as there are tracks.

Yes, there are only 15 tracks when compared to the usual 16.There are still four cups to win, but the last one only has three. The good thing about the tracks is that they are all great, some of the best and most creative tracks I've seen in a racing game, actually. There is a 5th cup, but it's just all of the previous tracks cut down to one lap.

For items, well, there really aren't that many. I counted maybe 7 total items, and they all act the same as items from Mario Kart, except for the Snowman and thunder cloud items, which are slightly more unique. There are some secret items, though like the Galaga ship, which acts as a turret. They can be unlocked through means I will explain now.

One of the most important parts of the game is the drift move, which you activate with the shoulder button. Drifting will give you a boost depending on how long you hold it, but using it in the right place can be tricky. Drifting enough will give you a power up that activates a shield, which protects you from items. You can also get boosts by jumping off of ramps.

Throughout each of the courses are several pellet pads, which, when run over, create pellets from thin air. Collecting enough of the pellets allows you to turn into some kind of Pac-Car, and the the opponents into blue ghosts, which you can eat. Eating enough ghosts in a cup will unlock a different secret weapon.

There are also fruit pads on the tracks, which create grapes, cherries, and watermelons somewhere on the track. Collecting the fruit will allow you to open up a shortcut. A lot of them open some nice areas that really will help you get ahead. Most of the tracks have 4 laps to allow you to use every shortcut.

There are three difficulty levels, and beating the 5th cup on any of them will unlock a new character. The odd thing with the unlockable characters is that none of them are Pac-Man characters. Two of them are enemies from Dig-Dug, and the other is the main character from Katamari Damacy.

I only have two major complaints, the first being a complaint related to Mario Kart. One of the most common items is the blue bomb which homes in on first place. Granted, the stun when hit isn't as bad as Mario Kart, but being bombarded by 3 in a row can get a bit annoying.

My other complaint is the difficulty. It's too easy, and, if you're good, even the hard difficulty is a cakewalk. There is a nightmare difficulty, but it's completely optional.

Graphics-9/10: The graphics are definitely a high point for the game. The tracks and the characters are all unique and detailed, which adds a lot to the experience.

The tracks are all incredibly varied, with no two tracks looking exactly the same. In fact, I don't think a single track shares a texture with another track. You could go from driving through a canyon to racing through a swamp, or from craters on an alien planet to a classic Pac-Man maze. It's all very well done.

Each track also has a bunch of things going on in the background. On the space track you can see the ship from Galaga chasing after aliens, or in the haunted mansion you can see Count Pacula and Pacenstein's monster. I just made those names up.

The characters all have a variety of animations, like winning, losing, taunting, hitting someone with an item, and so on. But the vehicles that they drive are so creative and detailed that it's hard to place a favorite. My favorites include Blinky's missile car, Pooka's giant drill, and Spooky's three wheeler motorcycle.

My favorite tracks would probably be the carnival floating in a void, the swamp, the classic maze, and the haunted house.

Overall-8/10: While not a masterpiece, Pac-Man World Rally is an incredibly well done kart racing game that probably surprised a lot of people with how much effort went into it. Despite how much fun I had with it, I would still suggest renting it, mainly due to the fact that PS2 games are incredibly hard to find nowadays.

Next time, we go back to the Gameboy Advance.

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