Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ takes everything that’s entertaining about Pac-Man and runs with it and the result is pure and unadulterated arcade bliss.
Back when Pac-Man: Championship Edition came out in 2007, Namco Bandai had developed the best version of Pac-Man yet, but it took the company another three years to improve upon a formula that seemed pretty much flawless. Enter Pac-Man: Championship Edition DX+, an improved version of Pac-Man that’s so revolutionary that it makes every Pac-Man game that preceded it feel archaic and outdated in comparison. Anyone who’s played original Championship Edition should know that Deluxe supersedes it in every aspect and those who missed it should jump right in and ignore every Pac-Man game before it.
Deluxe builds upon the gameplay of its predecessor, but there are several new mechanics to take into account. As Pac-Man, you travel through different mazes gobbling up pellets and avoiding ghosts, which you can only eat after consuming especial dots known as power pellets. Once you collect all the given dots on one side of the screen, a fruit appears on the opposite side and eating that fruit causes pellets to appear on the half you cleared moments ago. This process needs to be repeated a few times to try and make as many points as you can in the allotted time. As it’s usually the case with Pac-Man games, the speed increases as you get more points and decreases when you lose a life. The first new feature that completely revolutionizes the Pac-Man formula comes in the form of a new type of ghost.
Anyone who played Pac-Man knows how fearsome these enemies can be, but this time around, you can turn the tide against them. As you eat pellets, you’ll notice that there are sleeping ghosts on different parts of the maze and when you run next to them, they’ll wake up and start following you, forming a rainbow trail. Unlike regular ghosts, sleeping ghosts are unlimited and they start following the same path as you which soon turns into a conga line that you can use to your advantage. When you feel like the line’s getting too long, you consume a power pellet and eat literally dozens of ghosts in a succession and let me tell you, this is one of the most satisfying video game moments you can have. After being intimidated by these ghosts for decades, there’s something therapeutic about being able to eat dozens of them. When you do, the action slows down for a second and the speed starts increasing little by little which makes the entire process eminently satisfying.
Also, do you remember those inevitable moments when ghosts cornered you and you simply didn’t have an opportunity to escape? Those moments are pretty much over because when an enemy gets too close to you, a slow-motion effect comes into effect, giving you ample time to escape or throw a bomb from your limited supply. When you use a bomb, the explosive device send all the ghosts in the maze to their pen, but don’t worry, they’ll come back in a few seconds.
The gameplay revolves around three main modes called Score Attack, Time Attack and Ghost Combo and there are several variations for those, including Free, Darkness, Dungeon, Manhattan, Spiral, Junction and Highway and these levels come with their own set of rules. There are dozens of levels to play and modes to discover, so you can play this game for weeks and still unlock new content. But even if you’ve unlocked everything there is, Pac-Man is the quintessential arcade game which you can fire up in and play for a few minutes or a few hours.
But innovations don’t end there. There’s a new Beginner Mode in case you haven’t played much Pac-Man in years, visual styles from the original Pac-Man, Pac-mania and everything in between (there are even skins for Rally X and Dig Dug) and how can I forget the fantastic techno music that plays in the background? By the way, a free update called DX+ added online leaderboards where you can compete against Steam friends or players from all over the world, as well as medal support and new skins.
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+ is one of the best arcade games ever released. Not only because this is a terrific game in its own right, but because it grabs a formula that has grown stale over the past few decades and revolutionizes it in such a substantial way that I can’t see myself going back to classic Pac-Man. As far as Pac-Man goes, I don’t see how anyone can improve Championship Edition Deluxe. It is that good.