It’s impossible really to imagine the world of video games without him. He’s yellow, he’s always hungry and he makes a noise that few wouldn’t recognise. There is no dispute at all that Pac-Man is a much loved and recognized icon of the gaming world. But that doesn’t necessarily give him unlimited potential to keep starring in games.
Ghostly Adventures 2 forgets almost everything you might remember about Pac-Man and instead places him in an aging platformer. The tutorial quickly sets about telling you all the controls and abilities that Pac-Man possesses in the most irritating way possible. You play through a very simple level and get constantly interrupted by game pausing pop-ups. On occasions you might get to play for 10 seconds before another break, sometimes it is literally about 1 or 2 seconds. By the end of the tutorial I was ready to throw my pad at the TV. It’s like someone took the worst parts of video tutorials and rammed them into the worst parts of playable tutorials.
With that out of the way you’re free to explore the world of Pac-Man which is notably 3 dimensional. Running, jumping and button mashing are all pillars of this archaic throwback to games that have been dead and buried for years. The camera is awkward and can cause you to die whenever it pleases – is largely because it is totally fixed. Rest assured you will sit there ineffectively forcing the right thumbstick through the side of your pad in an attempt to see where you’re going to no avail.
I was constantly reminded of the frustrations and irritations I used to experience back in the PS One days and I can think of more than a few PS2 games that can do things better than Ghostly Adventures 2. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard myself screaming at my TV informing it of which buttons I pressed and when I pressed them. While the buttons are reasonably responsive for the most part it often makes little difference due to the fixed camera. On the few occasions you can see where you’re going it is entirely possible that the controls will just bail on you and yet again allow you to fall to your death.
There is no attempt to be clever or creative in any respect. You collect stuff, you press a button to chomp things to death and you awkwardly jump around on inexplicable platforms. There are ultimately only three different styles of areas and you’ll soon get bored of playing each one. Considering the gameplay is so frustrating and the areas so boring it becomes very difficult to remain interested after a couple of hours.
It certainly won’t be coming from plot or characterisation, big shocker there I know. The Ghostly Adventures 2 is based around a TV series of the same name which I’d never seen until writing this review. There is a reasonable tie-in going on but for those who don’t know the TV show The Ghostly Adventures 2 is going to contain mostly unknown characters. Although notably the main bad guy is called Lord Betrayus. Really? His parents obviously didn’t have high hopes for him from the start. But this is from the TV show so the game can’t really take all the blame.
There are token bosses wedged into each level that may mean something to fans of the show but to anyone other than fans Ghostly Adventures 2 has little to offer. There aren’t enough references to the original Pac-Man to make it anything but a game aimed at kids that watch the show.
And that’s solidly were Ghostly Adventures 2 is aimed, at fans of the TV show. And for younger audiences this may be a decent distraction for a time. But the input lag may cause problems and the fixed camera can be hugely frustrating at times. But unless you’re a fan of the TV show there’s nothing here for you.
It’s a platformer that draws way too much of it’s inspiration from games several decades old. Ironically Pac-Man would be better off looking back at the 2D games from that era but ignores them for unnatural feeling 3D titles. It’s like if Mario was the star of The Last Of Us. It just doesn’t feel right. Unless you’re a fan of the show, or have kids that are, this is one to avoid. Pac-Man certainly can’t be proud of starring in Ghostly Adventures 2.