Pac-Man’s ventures outside the usual dot-munching maze-a-thons have seen pretty decent returns. Pac-Man World was an especially solid, pleasing addition to the original PlayStation’s roster of 2.5D platformers, and stands the test of time as one of the big round yellow one’s better diversions. So this remake of that game has fairly sturdy, if slightly dated, foundations to build on.
Pac-Man World Re-Pac PS5 Review – Retro Platformer Gets Pac To Basics In Impressive Style
Pac Up Your Troubles
Pac-Man World plays out in a similar style to the post-3D platformers of the 90s with Pac-Man traversing a 3D hub world that connects a series of 2.5D levels that feature collectables, platform trickery, and area-capping boss battles. Pac-Man’s family is kidnapped by some ill-informed goons and it’s up to PM to go on a child-friendly killing spree to rescue them all.
It’s a warmly familiar setup for anyone nostalgic for the PSOne era of platforming, but there has been many an occasion with retro remasters/remakes where revisiting that feeling leads to the kind of misery that years of gaming experience bring. Finding the right balance of faithful recreation and ease-of-use modernization is key, and for the most part, Pac-Man World: Re-Pac manages that juggling act.
Even though the original version arrived just as Mario and Banjo Kazooie were strutting their revelatory 3D stuff, Pac-Man World had a confident swagger that brushed that ambitious progress in the platforming genre aside. It honed in on what did the trick in the more established spaces, including Pac-Man’s own storied past.
Not everyone was ready, nor exposed to, the brand new bag of innovation that 3D had bright to the table, so these comfortable compromises such as Pac-Man World were the real money, and pop this truth pill, this game was money, and its relative simplicity is a big part of why it can still show you its core appeal.
Pac-Man Is More Mobile Than You Remember
Pac-Man is a bit more mobile here than in his arcade coin-op days. He’s got legs, feet, arms, hands, and the almost mandatory set of boots and gloves to put on them. He can jump, dash, butt-stomp (he doesn’t have an ass, but I don’t know what else to call it), and…well that’s it really, but it’s accentuated by a selection of pickups that add some gradual variety to proceedings.
I was rather taken with the lively pace of Pac-Man World: Re-Pac. It’s always in a busy state without being relentless. As a result, there’s a pleasant bounce to how things play out, where frustration is tempered by the general pleasantness on display.
Still, it’s very much rooted in its time, and that brings some unresolved issues of its 2.5D play. Judging some jumps, for instance, can be a bit off, and the moveset doesn’t always feel intuitive to the situations the game throws up. It’s the kind of stuff that used to aggravate young players in any number of platformers, but with the opportunity to update a decades-old game as much as this has visually, it’s a shame that less attention was paid to tweaking it mechanically.
I suppose I understand why. Preserving how the game played would keep it more faithful, but the pool of people who played the original and are coming back to this is a pretty shallow one, even with the original’s relative level of success.
A Vibrant, Smooth And Clean Pac-Man Romp With Plenty Of Nostalgia Value
Where it does shine is in those aforementioned visuals. Pac-Man World: Re-Pac does that wonderful trick of making something that resembles what you remember about it from fading memories rather than hitting you with the brutal truth. See that side-by-side comparison in the recent trailer and it’s genuinely an impressive glow-up for the veteran gaming icon.
It’s vibrant, smooth, and clear to understand without betraying the charm and nostalgia value the original holds. There’s a crispness to it that puts some modern throwback efforts to shame. Of course, it helps when your cast of characters is largely comprised of simple shapes!
Something that remains a treat from the original release until now is the various mini games that crop up throughout Pac-Man World. Chief amongst those are updated versions of classic Pac-Man mazes, complete with limited lives. This is the jewel in the side game crown, as it perfectly captures the growing intensity of the arcade classic and throws in some interesting tweaks to the formula.
Elsewhere, there are sections featuring shoot ‘em up battles, racing, and a fruit machine mini game that’s probably the weakest of the lot. None of these diversions are particularly exciting in their own right, but they do at least break up the platforming a bit.
This is a pretty strong remake of a game that, while not a classic, had enough about it to gain a healthy fanbase in a very different time. As a potential benchmark for an all-new Pac-Man platformer, Bandai Namco couldn’t do much better than this.
Pac-Man World Re-Pac is now available for PS5, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S and Xbox One.
Review code kindly provided by publisher.