Remaking beloved PlayStation 3D platformers has become quite popular as of late, as Crash Bandicoot, Spyro the Dragon, Oddworld, and Klonoa have all been revived within the last few years. While Bandai Namco hasn’t gone all-out in modernizing Pac-Man World, it has received a sizable refresh with Pac-Man World Re-Pac. Featuring shiny and colorful graphics that look more like an HD remaster of a PlayStation 2 game rather than a modern title, Re-Pac is nonetheless a faithful recreation of the 1999 release and still a rather good platformer.
Pac-Man World is an intriguing title to remake as it was never considered the top of its class when it came to 3D platformers. It was a lot less ambitious than Spyro and didn’t have nearly as much content when compared to other N64 collectathons like Banjo-Kazooie. However, Re-Pac manages to use the original’s small scale to its favor as it offers a satisfying serving of retro fun that doesn’t overstay its welcome. While a brief game (there are just over 20 levels), Re-Pac has plenty to offer those who still want to continue on after its stellar final boss fight. Every level features collectibles to unlock in the form of letters, hidden mazes that play like the original arcade title (which is also playable), and gold crowns to earn through skillful play.
And while Re-Pac might be easy to compare to other platformers of the time, Pac-Man is different from other mascots like Mario since he didn’t come fully equipped with a clear move set to interact within a 3D space. Rather than using his Pac-Fists to punch his Pac-Enemies, Pac-Man uses his Pac-Ass to perform a devastating butt bounce that launches him higher up into the air. This isn’t just an offensive maneuver; it’s key to traversing the levels (which are a solid mix of 2.5D with depth rather than open 3D stages). Later levels require advanced butt bounces to traverse through some tricky platforming sequences, which takes advantage of the skill you’ve developed throughout the game.
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Its a straightforward approach, yet its simplicity is both its biggest strength and weakness. The gameplay and level design are unlike today’s platformers, which means it is, to an extent, refreshing. Unlike Kao the Kangaroo, which couldn’t live up to its inspirations, Pac-Man World is different enough from its most beloved contemporaries that revisiting it for a few hours doesn’t feel like a lesser experience. By not aiming too high and just focusing on platforming basics, it’s a novel and breezy platformer that that sticks out because it doesn’t have heaps of mandatory collectibles or 50 different moves to master like some of its modern peers.
But its lack of ambition isn’t as beneficial to its world design. A few of them (such as its pirate and space-themed ones) are plain and leave something to be desired, but it has a couple inspired worlds, too, like the one that takes place in a carnival. There are only three or four stages in each world, though, so even the generic settings go away before they become too tedious.
Re-Pac‘s greatest strength is in its boss battles. There are some truly standout moments, such as a shoot ’em up stage against King Galaxian that even includes some sound effects straight from the arcade shooter and a surprisingly solid first-person kart racer that is better than some full-fledged games in the genre (looking at you, Crazy Chicken Kart 2). However, it’s the final boss fight that really shines with multiple phases and a unique mechanic that rewards players for going out of their way and rescuing Pac-Man’s kidnapped family (which requires finding hidden keys inside levels). Pac-Man World ends on a high note, which is certainly great to see.
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While it’s not a pivotal must-play platformer, nor is it particularly important from a historical point-of-view, Pac-Man World Re-Pac is a small slice of retro fun that holds up shockingly well. It goes to show that adding a little sheen to solid fundamentals goes a long way in creating a worthwhile remake. Hopefully, Bandai Namco applies a similar amount of love to its sequels or even a new entry, as its highs elevate it beyond standard platformer fare and demonstrate why it works even for those who don’t have nostalgia for the original game.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 7.5 equates to “Good.” A successful piece of entertainment that is worth checking out, but it may not appeal to everyone.