Return Of The Pac
HIGH Creative and accessible platforming.
LOW Kinda dated.
WTF Wait a minute, where’s Ms. Pac-Man?
The late ’90s were an exciting time for gaming, as this period saw the rise of 3D experiences on home consoles in a few different flavors. Things like Super Mario 64 blew everyone’s mind as developers successfully translated 2D gameplay into fully-open 3D platformers. Other games, like Crash Bandicoot, found a different balance in merging 2D and 3D platforming with a more focused, controlled approach toward level design.
This latter type was the case for Namco’s Pac-Man World, starring one of the world’s most famous game icons. Now, almost twenty-two years later, World has returned with a remake subtitled Re-Pac, throwing a fresh coat of paint on this classic. The goal is to conquer six worlds and save Pac-Man’s friends and family from Toc-Man, an evil robotic version of the hero.
Gameplay-wise, Pac-Man World: Re-Pac is played from a third-person perspective with a fixed camera angle. Levels generally play from a side-scrolling approach, much like a standard 2D sidescroller, though there are 2.5D elements of foreground and background. The gameplay is now-standard stuff that plays like an old-school title, for better or worse.
Similar to most 2D games before it, the goal of each level is to simply make it to the end. The platforming itself feels great, and Pac-Man also has an assortment of abilities, like a ground pound, a roll that lets him get up slopes, and he’s also able to launch his iconic pellets after he collects some across each level.
Speaking of collecting, every stage features fruit scattered around. Collecting them allows Pac-Man to open doors to access bonuses and secret levels modeled after the original maze structure of old-school Pac-Man.
While these aspects are solid, Re-Pac has a heavy reliance on backtracking for collecting bonuses. While most of it is optional, it’s still annoying. Thankfully, the experience is solid overall, with fluid play that’s approachable and challenging at the same time. While I do wish there was an option for unlimited lives, I did like the addition of an “easy” mode, allowing for blocks between platforms to prevent players from falling, and this mode also lets Pac-Man hang in the air a bit longer while jumping to avoid mishaps.
Even if the gameplay is ultimately simplistic, I still love it. It’s retro platforming at its finest, and getting into the groove of jumping through each level was great. What really struck me, however, was the level of design and creativity on display. Sure, it’s cliché to have familiar themes like a pirate level and factory level in a mascot platformer, but the colorful visuals and bubbly music make it work.
However, even better are the boss designs and mechanics. Much of this genre struggles with boss encounters — some opt for great spectacle with a low challenge, and others go vice versa. Re-Pac manages both. My absolute favorite is a Galaxian-themed fight played from a top-down perspective, shooting pellets at enemy ships while arcade music is blasting in the background. Having to avoid getting hit with projectiles while maneuvering as one would in the original arcade game is damn cool, especially since Galaxian and Galaga are my favorite Namco arcade titles. Others include an enjoyable racing minigame and even one where Pac-Man is running away from the screen as we see the boss’s perspective in a first-person view.
Pac-Man World: Re-Pac might be a bit basic at times, but it nails the mechanics and delivers on the production. It feels like exactly the kind of thing I would have enjoyed as a kid — which basically means I also enjoy it now as a platforming-crazed adult. I’m glad Namco is looking to its classic catalog in this way, and I’m hoping it means we get more from them in this style. Pac-Man fever? I have it.
Disclosures: This game is published by Bandai Namco and developed by Now Production. It is available on PS4/PS5, Switch, XBO/X/S and PC. This copy was obtained via publisher and was reviewed on PS5. Approximately 10 hours were spent playing and the game was completed.
Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated E for Mild Cartoon Violence. The official description is as follows: This is platformer game in which players assume the role of Pac-man on a quest to rescue his friends. As players traverse 3D platform environments, they can collect items (e.g., dots, fruits), use a dash and bounce attack to defeat skeletons, and collect power pellets to eat ghosts. Enemies generally disappear in a puff of smoke when defeated. In some sequences, players can pilot a spacecraft to shoot down enemy ships in arcade-style fashion.
Colorblind Modes: Colorblind modes are not present in the options menu.
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Gamers: Subtitles and visual cues are present, but cannot be adjusted. This game is fully accessible without sound as no audio cues are relevant to successful play.
Remappable Controls: The controls can be remapped.