Pac-Man World 2 Preview
To this day, Pac-Man is still a prime icon in the videogaming world, as the dot still resides among the all time greats such as Tetris, Pong, and Mario. Pac-Man was created in a 2D world, just as every other game was. Mario was really the only franchise that saw a phenomenal welcoming in the 3D world, while the rest fell short. Pac-Man World 2 will, indeed, be in 3D, but it will still feature a lot of 2D gameplay elements that made the original Pac-Man what it is today well over a decade ago--at the same time adding a few surprises to the mix.
This time around, you must go up against the all mighty, evil demon named Spooky. This villain wants to destroy your village known as Pac-Land, and you must stop him. Spooky's minions, the Ghost Gang, have stolen your father's golden fruit. Once equipped with this fruit, you can then hunt down the antagonist, Spooky, and stop him before he destroys Pac-Land. There are six worlds in all that you will have to go through, and gain all of the golden fruit. There's also some other goodies you can pick up along the way.
Pac-Man has a slew of new moves and attacks. You'll be able to jump, butt-smash (like Mario), and hang on to ledges; traditional platforming actions. Pac-Man also has a wide range of transportation to his use such as a boat, submarine, ice skates, and rollerblades. With all of these new moves and features you can still expect a simple 2D platformer trapped in the 3D realm.
Namco has given us a nice variety in level environments. Starting in the freezing, high mountains and spanning all the way to deep, treacherous lava caves. Then there's the haunted forests you're forced into exploring. The levels are nicely laid out and feature various camera angles, including: top-down and 3rd person a'la Crash Bandicoot. As you progress, you will also be pit into various mini-games. In these mini-games, you'll make use of some of the fun means of transportation such as having to ice-skate down an ice-glazed mountain. You will also encounter with numerous bosses in which you have to use a patterned attack to defeat. During the boss fights you will be in an enclosed location and you are able to free-roam in that area.
The graphics department can be compared to other games in the genre such as Klonoa 2 and Rayman. The visuals are in no way groundbreaking, but the simplistic design suits the gameplay and overall feel quite well. The textures are clean and the background complements the game nicely.
A great plus for you old-school gamers and even you new comers is the addition of a Namco arcade. Throughout the levels are Namco tokens which can be collected and will later open Namco's ancient games such as the original Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man. This addition was a smart move on Namco's part and lets us reminisce on how games first came about.
Pac-Man World 2 has some promising improvements and seems to be a solid platformer. Keep your eyes peeled for this one, if the original was any indication on how this one will turn out, then we're in for a big treat. Pac-Man World 2 hits stores at the very end of February, 2002.
1/28/2002 Joseph Comunale