It’s been a big year for Pac-Man.
First, there was Pac-Man Museum+, a dazzling compilation of 14 games from the yellow dot-eater’s back catalogue. It had a mixture of old and new, good and bad, from more traditional takes on Pac-Man‘s classic gameplay to completely bizarre concepts featuring a familiar cast of characters. And now, there’s Pac-Man World Re-Pac, a remake of a Pac-Man-themed 3D platformer from 1999.
If there’s one thing that looking back over the history of Pac-Man with Pac-Man Museum+ has taught us, it’s that’s Pac-Man is quite a dexterous fellow. Why should he be confined to a 2D arcade game when he clearly has so much to offer? Granted, some of those spin-offs haven’t always been a hit. But Pac-Man World Re-Pac proves that, beyond the arcade screen, this yellow munchy circle is capable of being a protagonist we’re proud to be in control of.
As far as classic 3D platformers go, Pac-Man World Re-Pac nails the basics. It’s level-based, with each one providing multiple pathways to explore, secrets to pick up, enemies to defeat and, every so often, a boss to square up against. It’s platforming 101. But of course, there’s plenty of exclusively Pac-Man twists thrown in along the way, making this a platforming game that stands out from the crowd.
Find the relevant collectibles in each level, for example, and you’ll unlock a bonus ‘Maze’ level, transporting you to a 3D showcase of a classic Pac-Man level. You know the score: eat the dots, avoid the ghosts, eat them when you’ve got a power-up. It’s a nice nod back to Pac-Man’s roots, and these levels feel right at home here. There’s also an opportunity for ghost-chasing and dot-eating within the main levels, too, but for the most part, this feels like your typical platformer, for better or for worse.
Issues that have plagued 3D platformers for the best part of three decades raise their heads from time to time in Pac-Man World Re-Pac. For example, you might not always know exactly where you’re going to land following a jump. You might think you’re lined up with a platform, but actually you’re nowhere near. And getting too smash-happy can result in you obliterating a destructible box, an otherwise invaluable platform that grants you access to a nearby collectible.
Are any of those issues enough to stop Pac-Man World Re-Pac being fun, however? Of course not. If you’re a fan of 3D platformer games, the good far outshines the bad here, and what we have is a wonderfully recreated forgotten gem that deserves its place alongside the likes of Crash Bandicoot, Spyro et al.
The levels are wonderfully designed for one, set across worlds spanning tropical islands, space and a pirate cove. Each level is packed with secrets, and to get the most out of the game you’re going to have to head through doors, dive into pools of water, butt-bounce onto switches and more. The platforming challenge in each level can be taxing, but it’s always fair. And if you do die, the last checkpoint usually isn’t too far back.
For completionists, there’s a lot to enjoy in Pac-Man World Re-Pac, too. Not only are there hundreds of dots to collect, but there are hidden ‘PAC-MAN’ letters to uncover and cute characters to rescue, amongst other things. It isn’t the biggest game in the world, but there’s enough here to keep players occupied for the best part of 10 hours if they’re willing to engage with everything on offer.
Pac-Man might not be your typical platforming protagonist, but he’s earned his chance to shine – and Pac-Man World Re-Pac certainly gives him that opportunity. This remake of a forgotten gem has “wholesome fun” written all over it thanks to its bright and bold art style, its well-designed levels and its wealth of collectibles waiting to be hoovered up. If you’re a 3D platforming fan, make sure this is on your radar.