Review by nastynate3118

Reviewed: 06/20/14

Not even a 6-pack of power pellets will save this atrocious gameplay

Introduction

Pac-Man World 2 is a 2002 platforming game on the GameCube and continues the long tradition of mediocre Pac-Man spin off games (not named Ms. Pac-Man). I had it packaged with Pac-Man Vs. and this is probably due to the fact that this game would not be able to sell on its own. It is a mess of uneven gameplay and erratic design choices that force this title to be forgettable as can be.


Gameplay – 3.25/10

Pac-Man World 2 allows the player to control Pac-Man in a 3D platformer as he explores 25 stages collecting items and reaching exits while negotiating various hazards. One of the few things the gameplay gets right is the fact that there is a ton of variety to what you are doing in each level and the different obstacles you have to face. There are ice skating levels, submarine levels and just traditional run and jump levels. As you explore each stage you fight different creatures by jumping on them or using a poor man’s version of Sonic the Hedgehog’s spin dash attack that is very hard to control and does not always work correctly. The combat is very uneven because some creatures can kill you extremely fast and others are just a waste of space. It also does not help that hit detection is rather glitchy and inconsistent. The boss battles prove to be superfluous chores because they all involve mostly the same robot with the same abilities and for whatever the middle boss in the game is insanely hard while the two bosses that follow are a complete snooze.

The biggest issues with the gameplay come with the poorly executed physics and camera. The controls for actually jumping around and bouncing are fine but the physics are very inconsistent. For example, you will do a spin dash roll-jump off a ramp to try and get to another ramp and sometimes you make it and sometimes you don’t, depending on what mood the game is in. Depth perception proves to be a big problem because you can never tell if you are going to overshoot a platform and do your best to compensate the jump as you begin to descend.

Another major problem with the gameplay comes with the bipolar camera. There are times when it is fine and you can rotate it and times when for some reason you can’t rotate it. You will be in a screen where a minute before you could rotate the camera and times when you cannot for some inexplicable reason. You will have to make many jumps completely blind and take a literal leap of faith hoping you reach the platform. The worst part about all this is that the camera non-rotation issue seems to pop up at the worst possible times in areas that require precise jumping. This, combined with awful swimming controls and inconsistent jumping physics make the game nearly unplayable.

A big selling point of the gameplay comes with the ability to collect all kinds of things in each level. You collect pellets, tokens and fruit in a quest to earn a “100%” rating. The only collectable that actually gives you any reward are the tokens because they enable you to play old ports of Pac-Man and some of the other ‘80s arcade games from the series. While this is a solid idea in theory the ports themselves do not play nearly as well as their arcade ancestors and collecting these items is simply too aggravating given the enormous amount of issues with the gameplay.


Interface- 7.75/10

Contrary to its atrocious gameplay, Pac-Man World 2 has decent interface. The menus are very neat and organized and it is pretty clear to see how much fruit you have collected for a level. The game does a great job showing your status from level to level and the HUD looks great.

One thing I do not really understand is the autosave. Don’t get me wrong, having an autosave feature is a lifesaver in this game but in that case what is the point of having extra lives and a game over? The only purpose that has is to start you over from the very beginning of the level if you lose all your lives and all that does is just annoy you. For bosses, you have to grind and get 30 lives from another level to have a chance of beating them without getting a game over thanks to the checkpoints within a boss battle. The whole process is just odd and a bit superfluous.

The game annoys you with multiple loading screens and the fact that you cannot see your total time played unless you save and quit. The collectables are a bit frustrating too and I really do not understand the point of collecting the fruit and hundreds of pellets. It is just busy work that, while lacking fun, is thankfully optional.


Story- 7/10

The plot of this game is founded upon a bit of a ridiculous premise. Pac-Man is tasked with defeating the ghost leader Spooky, an evil apparition that has stolen Pac-Land’s golden fruit. While this is no doubt a tribute to the original Pac-Man the details are pretty wacky. What kind of name is “Spooky?” I could not play this game and not think of my old cat named Spooky. It is never explained what their problem with Pac-Man is or why they want to harass Pac-Land, but I digress. There is surprisingly a decent amount of presentation in the story as Pac-Man travels around the world and encounters the different ghosts. The game randomly alternates between text dialogue and voice acting, never really settling on what it wants to do. The ending is okay but very brief and I was disappointed that Ms. Pac-Man never makes an appearance in the story (she only appears in her arcade port, which is extremely difficult to unlock).


Graphics – 5.5/10

There are a shocking number of visual problems for a GameCube title. There are FMV scenes that have about the same quality as old 1997 PS1 FMVs with their awkward animation and fuzzy quality. The regular in-game visuals feature a wide array of problems ranging from an overly-sensitive camera, exaggerated animation, unclear hazards and lighting that is uneven. The camera is already a major gameplay problem and the different angles that it will show certainly do not help matters. Pac-Man always looks like he is panting and out of breath and this game suffers from the classic problem of hazards that blend in with the background; this is a common NES problem and absolutely should not appear in a GameCube game. Darkness is often used too much to the point where some areas are unnecessarily pitch black and you have to fumble around.

Enemy variety is a strong point of the graphics and they boast a tremendous amount of design and animation. The bosses, on the other hand, disappoint due to most of them looking exactly the same and even using the same techniques. The environments also have a lot of variety but sadly suffer from the issues with the camera and lighting that I described above.


Sound/Music –7.75/10

The forgettable soundtrack tries to supplant itself by infusing music from the original Pac-Man while trying out new compositions. Some of them are actually pretty good, mainly in the snow levels. There is a grand, adventurous theme that plays as you mush through the snow that is really the only highlight of the soundtrack. The rest of the music isn’t necessarily bad but sounds so generic. The haunted world is the worst example of using stereotypical music that you would imagine if someone told you to think of “creepy haunted house music.” There is a distinct lack of variety and occasional mix issues that creep up as you listen to the music and some music is totally out of place (such as the boss music when you fight Pinky, which sounds like happy music).

The sound effects are okay and do a good job utilizing the classic sound effects from Pac-Man. I was disappointed by the lack of consistent voice acting because it appears in one scene than vanishes with no explanation.


Play Time/Replay Value – 6/10

I completed my play through of Pac-Man World 2 in 4 hours, 32 minutes and 31 seconds. The game itself is not really that long but is heavily inflated by the difficulty of some stages and the fact that one boss took me 61 tries to beat. There is replay value with high scores and collecting different trinkets but it is far too irritating to try and collect them all. You have to be too perfect and the game simply does not reward you enough for this aggravating task. The only item worth collecting are the tokens because they allow you to play arcade games but sadly those ports do not play well.


PROS
+Variety of levels and obstacles
+Organized status screens
+Surprising amount of presentation
+Variety of enemies
+Stages are all unique
+Good job mixing audio from the original Pac-Man into this game
+Snow level music is fantastic


CONS
-Uneven combat
-Inconsistent physics
-Stubborn camera
-Erratic difficulty
-Odd autosave feature
-Ridiculous premise and villain
-Poor FMV quality
-Issues with lighting and animation
-Audio poorly mixed
-Most of soundtrack is uninspired


Final Recommendation

Pac-Man World 2 is a game that should only be played by the most hardcore fans of the franchise. The 1980’s arcade games are light-years better than this trash and not nearly as aggravating. This is ultimately a forgettable platformer plagued by gameplay issues that are simply unacceptable in a game released in 2002.


Final Score: 6.20833333/10 rounded to 6/10

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Product Release: Pac-Man Vs. / Pac-Man World 2 (Player's Choice) (US, 12/02/03)

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