AGH E3 Preview: Pac-Man 3-D

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Pac-Man is quite possibly the most revered videogame of all-time. However, after Pac-Mania in 1988, Namco has failed in numerous attempts to bring back its famous mascot in a game that even comes close in popularity to the original. The company once again tried to recapture the glory of its yellow dot eater last year with Pac-Man Ghost Zone, but they wisely pulled the plug on the game before doing any more damage to its famous character. Sadly, Pac-Man 3D isn't any better, and is unquestionably the worst of the four updated classics that were shown at this year's E3.

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This new version of Pac-Man tries to add variety by offering different levels of varying gameplay in a pseudo three-dimensional environment. The levels vary from standard side-scrolling, in which familiar fruits are collected, to an isometric viewpoint in the classic maze level. In the maze level, Pac-Man can jump over ghosts if need be, a feature that is reminiscent of Pac-Mania.

The other levels can best be described as a 3D version of Pac-Land. The smashing "butt-jump" found in this game will be familiar to those who played Super Mario 64, and is an integral part of the game for defeating enemies and breaking objects. He can also do a normal jump and even swim. Namco opted to retain a certain retro look to the game by using textures only sparingly, with Pac-Man looking very similar to how he looked in Pac-Land (i.e.- the Pac-Man cartoon.)

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Although we only spent about twenty minutes playing the game, it was clear to us that Pac-Man 3D needs yet another major revamping. The forced camera angles are confusing, and some of the levels (particularly the ship level) was very tedious and boring. The Pac-Mania-ish level was the most enjoyable, but it was also filled with shortcomings. The view of the entire playfield was even more restricted than Pac-Mania, meaning that decisions of where to go often became a matter of guesswork as opposed to strategy.

Here's hoping that Namco's historic character gets to be in a game deserving of his namesake. We're just afraid that it'll be in a game other than Pac-Man 3D.

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