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Pac-Man – The reboot of a videogame icon

Pac-Man is back in a new TV show and game hitting the UK now

Pac-Man is undoubtedly one the most iconic videogame characters of all time, and he’s being rebooted for the 21st century. The character now has a slickly-animated TV show, which just started on the Disney XD channel, plus a 3D platform adventure coming shortly – both under the name ‘Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures’. Namco organised an event in Central London to support the re-launch, which we attended.


Of course, part of Pac-Man’s long-lasting appeal is the very simplicity of his original form, he’s a pop-culture icon for retro video gaming. When Google celebrated his 30th anniversary with its playable Google Doodle on the homepage it was seen (and played) by billions. Character recognition for Pac-Man is also at a massive 90% worldwide, that’s up there with the likes of Superman and Batman, but Pac-Man isn’t quite as easy a character to work with as those more human, all-action heroes.


In his original form Pac-man is pretty surreal stuff, the endless mazes, the pellets that must be consumed, the pursuit by rather cuddly-looking coloured ghosts, it’s all a little mad and nonsensical, and it’s hard to imagine just what kind plot or narrative could be wrapped around the action.


For the TV show, Pac-Man has (as in previous spin offs) sprouted arms, legs and a big grin. The plot concerns a young Pac who is entrusted with keeping Pacopolis safe from an invading army of ghosts – apparently the disincorporated spirits of Pacopolis who tried to take over the world before. In line with innumerable other animations, Pac-Man is a teenager, so he has to balance going to school with eating ghosts.


The core of his power remains power pellets, though here they are represented by berries. These grow on a single tree and come in different colours with different powers (such as blue for ice Pac). It’s all fairly formulaic at first viewing (even for a kids show), though the colourful animation, bizarre backstory and some interesting characters may lift it above the crowd.


We got a chance to play the accompanying game, and it’s certainly perfectly keyed-in with the cartoon, so no complaints there. The action was fast-paced and slick, with responsive controls and a trail of dots to eat to keep you on track. It looks like a good effort in the ‘my first platformer’ category, though reviews from the US (where it has been available since late last year) are fairly average. It’s available on Xbox 360, PS3, Wii-U and Nintendo 3DS.



As well as the game and cartoon there are practically endless toys, plush and action figures, to keep any little Pac-Man fan happy. Whether this attempt to build a fuller world around the little yellow circle succeed is very much up-in-the-air, if the TV show can build a strong following then the sky is the limit for Pac-Man – after all, who thought My Little Pony would come back so strong?

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