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Which game will you play the most this month?

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Game Profile
GENRE: Puzzle
April 26, 2005
Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions

Pac-Man: Battle Royale

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX

Pac-Man Championship Edition DX


More in this Series
 Written by Dave Hulick  on June 23, 2005

Review: The yellow-bellied Ghostbuster goes Renaissance.

Few icons are as synonymous with gaming as Pac-Man is. The pizza pie with a piece missing stands for all things 80's, gaming, and geek. However, over 20 years after his initial debut, Namco has yet to really improve upon the original idea of navigating a maze and eating little dots for points. There's Ms. Pac-Man, countless 3D renditions and ports, and a few platforming adventure games. Yet, Ms. Pac-Man was the only game to see any success at all...until now. Pac-Pix for the DS originated as a tech demo at E3 2004, and has since then evolved into a solid final product that is overwhelmingly fun and original in it's design. While not an evolution of or sequel to Pac-Man by any means, Pac-Pix is a wonderful homage to the ultimate quarter-muncher.

The object of Pac-Pix is exceedingly simple. Draw Pac-Man with your stylus, and guide him around the touch-screen by drawing lines. Pac-Man is constantly moving forward, and it's your job to keep him from running off the screen and munching ghosts instead. Though very simple at first, the game gains complexity by adding in special "gestures." Gestures allow you to do a few things, such as drag Pac-Man backwards, or stun ghosts. Like Pac-Man, gestures are drawn and come to life upon completion. Later levels are absolutely impossible to complete without using these gestures. One level, for example, requires you to draw arrows that shoot upwards to the top-screen and cause floating ghosts to drop down onto the bottom screen.

The controls in Pac-Pix aren't just good, they're the entire 'draw' of the game. (No pun intended.) The game uses the touch-screen exclusively, and only uses the regular buttons to pause the game. Gesture and drawing recognition are excellent, and even the most deformed, ugly Pac-Man will be recognized and come to life. In fact, seeing a blob that poorly resembles Pac-Man coming to life and kicking butt is one of the most enjoyable and comic aspects of the game. However, the way you draw does have some impact on the game. The smaller the gesture (Pac-Man included), the faster it will move but naturally it will affect a lesser area.

Graphically, Pac-Pix is colorful and full-of life. The included, non player-drawn art is very cutesy and well animated. Different ghosts are very easy to distinguish from each other, and everything is very easy to see. While the levels themselves don't vary much from each other (due to the nature of the game), the background and supporting art of each level is very fitting and well-done. Most of the art in the game has a "sketchy" feel to it, to fit in with the whole drawing theme of the game. It goes without saying, however, that Pac-Man only looks as good as you draw him to look. The audio in Pac-Pix is a mixed bag. There are plenty of nostalgic sounds ripped straight from the arcade, but the music is a sometimes-catchy, usually annoying mess. The soundtrack consists of about 5 dissonant technoesque tracks. Sometimes I find myself humming, other times I find myself turning down the volume.

Bottom Line
Pac-Pix is yet another title in a growing library of highly addictive, highly innovative games for the DS. It's an idea that seems abstract, but simply ends up working in the end. Touch-screen usage is top notch, production values are high, and the nostalgia just pours in once you start playing. A great pick up and play title for a handheld that is still trying to find it's place in the world. Recommended.

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