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In-Depth Review

Pac-Man Remix: Needs a Little More Time to Simmer

Pac-Man Remix continues the trend of Namco's Dig Dug Remix, Galaga Remix, and similar titles: Take a well-known arcade game recipe, spice it up with modern-day technologies and game development theories, and serve it piping hot. Unfortunately, Pac-Man Remix is the victim of the same inferior ingredient as the others: a sour control scheme.

You can choose between moving your finger around the screen or using virtual arrow keys. Both are frustrating because it's too easy for your finger to slide the wrong way and result in losing a life before you realize what's happening. While a physical control pad would be ideal, barring that, a virtual joystick is a better alternative. The arrow keys present an additional problem in the fact that the up and down buttons are much larger than the right and left ones. Both control schemes indicate which way you've pressed with an arrow on the screen, but I was usually too busy with keeping Pac-Man out of danger to pay enough attention to that visual cue.

However, the gameplay is fun, and I would love to try it out with better controls. Each maze is presented at an angle, for a faux 3D effect, and power-ups give you new ways to strategize your dot and ghost chomping. Now you can jump over ghosts, teleport to other areas of the maze, pass through doors that close behind you, travel across arrows that propel you safely past non-blue ghosts, and more. In addition, there are boss battles that add some interesting flavors to this recipe. While I recognize the original Pac-Man's status as a classic game, it long ago became stale for me, so this is a nice way to give the experience a unique twist.

A boss battle

If you don't feel the same way I do about the arcade version, you may lament its lack of inclusion here, since original editions of Galaga and Dig Dug were present in the Remix versions. The original Pac-Man is sold separately at the App Store, however, so I guess Namco didn't want to upset those who had already purchased it. A better option would have been to simply sell two versions of Pac-Man Remix -- one with the original arcade game and one without, priced appropriately -- and ditch the first release. As of the writing of this review, it will cost you more than US$10 to buy both versions of Pac-Man, versus $4.99 each for Galaga and Dig Dug Remix.

Meanwhile, the original arcade version of Ms. Pac-Man sells for $5.99. No word if a Remix edition of that one is in the works. If so, I hope Namco smoothes out the issues with its control schemes and figures out some fair pricing for gamers who want the arcade and Remix versions of the game in the same package.

Just The Facts

Pac-Man Remix from Namco

MSRP US$4.99

Pros:

  • A unique twist on a classic gameplay formula that unfortunately became stale a long time ago
  • Teleporters, doors, speed arrows, and other power-ups give you new strategies for chomping dots and ghosts
  • Boss battles are a lot of fun

Cons:

  • Both control schemes are frustrating
  • The original arcade version is missing, meaning it costs twice as much to get the arcade and Remix versions of Pac-Man versus Galaga Remix and Dig Dug Remix, which include the arcade editions

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