Review by Jurnco

Reviewed: 05/31/05 | Updated: 04/02/07

Pac in the Fun

When the Nintendo DS was first introduced, the brick shaped clamshell was showcased with several tech demos. Most of these demos have fallen into obscurity, but Pac Pix, demoed by Namco, has been fleshed out into a full-fledged title. Is Pac Man ready for the dual screen, or is this still just a tech demo?

What sets Pac Pix apart from other Pac Man games is the ability to scratch out user defined Pac Man shapes. Players are required to draw Pac Man in order to eliminate ghosts from a ghost-infested book. When a somewhat recognizable Pac Man shape is drawn on the bottom screen, it will come to life and start munching mindlessly about. To control the newly created Pac Man, a series of walls must be drawn directly in front of his path. Pacman will turn according to the direction of the stroke. In later levels, a few extra characters can be drawn. The first of these is the arrow. A quickly etched arrow will launch in the direction it is pointing. Arrows can be used to hit objects on the to screen such as switches or ghosts that will fall to the bottom screen. The second unlocked character is the bomb. A bomb is created by first drawing a circle for the bomb then tracing a line from it to a source of fire. Fire is either pre-lit or activated by hitting a switch. Bombs can be used to destroy barriers that would otherwise block Pac Man from reaching ghosts. Some ghosts are encased in armor, and they must be hit with a bomb before Pac Man can eat them. As many arrows, bombs, and Pac Mans can be drawn as you want, so long as the ink meter doesn’t run out. There are various ghosts that require different tactics to eat. Some ghosts hold shields, making them impossible to eat from the front. Another ghost’s soul purpose is to clutter the bottom screen by wandering around and dropping splotches of paint, making it harder to draw shapes.

The character recognition system, for the most part, is pretty sound. Some of the more quickly etched images don’t register, which can be frustrating when trying to make quick maneuvers. There is a practice mode where you can perfect your Pac Man drawing skills. Hidden in this feature are special characters that will perform a special animation when found. This is rather pointless to do though, as the majority of the characters simply bounce around the screen. Pac Pix is unfortunately a very shallow game. With only twelve short levels, the game can be beaten in a few hours. What Pac Pix does offer, though, is incredibly original and entertaining.

The best part of Pac Pix is just drawing Pac Man. It’s fun to see jut how deformed you can get Pac Man to look and still register as a shape. The joy of the game is that the graphics are user created. Of course this doesn’t include the ghosts and other environmental hazards, but everything has a crayon on rustic paper appearance that blends well with the presentation. The visuals are bright and friendly and works perfectly with any stylus drawn concoction gamers come up with. The morphing system used to animate Pacman works seamlessly.

Namco has retooled the Pacman theme song in a very “hip” rendition, which plays at the beginning of each level. Most of the music is very cheerful and fun, but repetitive all the same. This is a game better played with the sound turned off. Some sound effects are decidedly below standard, sporting the classic Pacman “wakka” with each bite. Other sound effects ring through the DS with crystal clear quality.

Closing Comments
With only twelve levels, Pac Pix is not a very deep game. It's meant more as a pick-up-and-play game, offering short bursts of entertainment. Pac Pix is very entertaining and the later levels can be a fun challenge, but there is just not enough here. As a bargain title, Pac Pix is a great choice, but at full price this just doesn’t offer enough to satisfy.

Points
+ Draw Pac Man
+ Challenging/fun gameplay
-- Unpredictable recognition
-- Too short

Score: 7/10

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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