The Future of Pac-Man Games
The spherical yellow video game star known as Pac-Man has been around for a very long time. Making his arcade debut in 1980, the ghost-gobbling, fruit-munching hero has managed to garner success in the video game landscape for three decades. In that time, Pac-Man has gone from being a hardcore gaming sensation to a casual gaming sensation, and most recently, the little bugger has managed to attract both crowds with the remarkable Pac-Man Championship Edition DX. Having attained so much success with that title and seemingly reinventing the Pac-Man franchise, where does Namco Bandai go from here? The latest entry in the Pac-Man series was not only entertaining, but it completely changed the way people play Pac-Man while still retaining the series’ original charm. Will the developers be able to top their latest effort?
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX
Let’s take a look at Pac-Man Championship Edition DX. By taking the core idea behind previous Pac-Man games and adding, remixing, and changing several different features, Namco Bandai was able to create a solid, addicting gem of a game. I’ve collected every trophy and earned an A-rank for every level (and in some cases, an S-rank), and I still go back every few days and try to improve my scores. Unlike previous Pac-Man games, the latest release offers so much depth and rewards players who go back to the game repeatedly. That’s not to say that the Pac-Man games of old aren’t worth playing or don’t have any lasting value. Those games were enjoyable and addictive in their own right, but Pac-Man Championship Edition manages to blow them away with its superior design.
With the success that the latest game in the Pac-Man series garnered, you can bet it’s going to be tough for Namco Bandai if they choose to follow up with another sequel in the future. There are several directions the development team can take the series. One aspect they should not change is the game’s online presence. By being exclusive to Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX was a lot more accessible than if it would have been distributed on a disc. This is due in part to the low price tag of $10. Additionally, the last few Pac-Man games to receive disc-based marketing didn’t fare especially well. (I’m looking at you Namco Museum Magamix!)
How About Some DLC?
Namco Bandai would certainly do well to release a DLC pack or two for Pac-Man Championship Edition DX. What’s currently in the game is excellent, but it would be great to see a few new maps; maybe a brand new Darkness mode-based pack with completely new levels all set in the dark. Perhaps Namco Bandai can even throw in some Ms. Pac-Man content. The possibilities to expand the current Pac-Man game are certainly there. It’s up to Namco Bandai to either keep the game going or release a new title within the next few years.
Pac-Man Championship Edition DX 2?
Of course, the Pac-Man team could easily create a direct sequel to Pac-Man Championship Edition DX if they wanted to. A collection of new mazes, another great soundtrack, and maybe a new mode or two would most definitely be welcome. I don’t know if Pac-Man Championship Edition DX 2 would receive the praise that the original did due entirely to the fact that it wouldn’t be raising the bar for the series quite like that game did, but it would still get recognition for being a solid game. After all, more of the same isn’t always a bad thing, especially when you’re talking about Pac-Man Championship Edition DX.
Please, No Singing
Toru Iwatani, the creator of the Pac-Man series, spoke at GDC this year. He touched on several topics such as how Pac-Man came to fruition and the current difficulty in games, but he also briefly touched on the future of the Pac-Man franchise. Iwatani stated that he envisioned a singing Pac-Man not unlike The Blues Brothers. This doesn’t seem like the type of game that fans of Pac-Man Championship Edition DX would really be excited about, so if it does happen, it should be fairly interesting to see what direction the series goes in. Personally, the idea of a singing Pac-Man game makes me nervous.
Where to Next, Pac-Man?
Pac-Man games have always been about their familiarity. Unlike franchises such as Mario and God of War, which can afford to stay consistent due to their vast appeal and variety, Pac-Man is a series that either remains largely the same with every consecutive entry or completely reinvents itself from the ground up. Pac-Man Championship Edition was a fun new entry in the long-running franchise, but Pac-Man Championship Edition DX raised the standard for what a dot-eating, ghost-dining game could be. Pac-Man, it’s going to be fun seeing you move forward. Your fans will be watching in great anticipation.