After many failed attempts at bringing Pac-Man to the modern age with party games, racing games, and platform games, Namco struck gold with Championship Edition. It sounds super serious and only for those who take their Pac-Man very seriously, but this is the modern-day Pac-Man game we were waiting for. Well, I wasn’t really, but it’s nice to have. Bring in the neon, bring in the pills and take out those ghosts!
Championship Edition is the Pac-Man we all know and love. Top down, simple visuals, now redecorated with a pulsing neon retro arcade games seem to love these days and a thumping techno soundtrack. It’s like the pills Pac-Man eats have finally infected our own minds! It won’t be long before Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde (Winky?) start infesting the recesses of my waking mind, poking around just out of sight. You still got to grab those pills and a big one still makes the evil ghosts run scared and become edible. it is as you’d expect and no new moves have been stuffed in to make it needlessly complicated. The new stuff comes in the way you grab those pellets and tackle those ghosts. Meet the time limit and the always changing stages.
Instead of scoffing everything to move onto the next stage, Championship Edition no longer has a next stage. Now you follow carefully dotted pellets and once you’ve gobbled one side of the map, a piece of fruit appears on the other. When you grab the fruit the empty side refills with a new layout and eventually a new design to navigate around. Within the 5 minute or 10 minute time limit you must eat as much as you can, with big points being awarded for using the big pills to devour as many ghosts as possible. It’s a simple change, but one which means the game doesn’t keep stopping and restarted and the gradual changes keep you on your toes. As you slowly improve you really start to sink into those mazes, learning how to dodge the enemy and when to use the pills. It feels fresh, yet the game remains much the same as it did all those years ago. Amazing. The only thing missing is a mode with no time limit, so you can just play till your lives are gone. But if that mode existed, our own lives may have become mute.
Championship Edition may stay flat with only minor changes, but these changes bring it forwards to the current age of impatient brats and adults who just don’t want to see the little guy suffer with miserable parties no one bothers to attend. Don’t become something you aren’t, just slowly evolve with what made you good in the first place. A lesson for all.