|Xbox Live game designed by the creator of Pac-Man, and it's pretty darn neat.|
He took the "Championship" theme (the game was introduced in tournaments) all the way, making the various game modes all time-limited to five, ten, or fifteen minutes or so--PMCE is in that sense a "caravan" game, like the old PC Engine shooters they used to bus around Tokyo. Still, it would have been nice to have some kind of "endless mode" option.
There are uhh five modes or so, all revolving around the familiar yellow pie-face guy zipping around mazes, eating dots while being chased by four ghosts. There are a couple major differences between this and the original Pac-Man, though!
First, the mazes are all divided into left and right halves. When you clear the dots on one side, a fruit or other edible item appears on the other side, near the center of the screen just beside the box that the ghosts come out of. Eat the fruit, and the side you cleared resets with new wall configurations and new dots! So there aren't really individual levels; you just keep reconfiguring and repopulating the two halves of the screen as you go.
The other big difference is that scoring is a lot more complex. You can keep the ghosts doubling in point value when eaten, for instance, if you keep grabbing multiple power pellets to extend the eating time. This can let you rack up a pretty huge score if you can chain lots of ghost chomps. There may also be some dot-based score multiplier or something that I don't remember exactly.
Movement has been tweaked a bit. In some modes or mazes you may zip at lightning speed. If you press the direction you're going to turn before the turn comes, sparks will kick off of Pac-Man and the wall into which he's leaning, and you'll get a bit of additional acceleration when you take the turn. This gets to be pretty vital when trying to get away from those pernicious ghosts! The Xbox pad is horrible for controlling this fast four-way movement, though; you can try either the d-pad or the left analog stick, but the d-pad is wobbly and imprecise, and the analog stick is sluggish. Blech. Are there any decent arcade sticks for 360 yet? If so, get one for this game.
Presentation is top-notch. The graphics are still 2D, thank goodness, but high resolution (the mazes are all wide, it should be noted, to fit modern widescreen resolutions), with subtle and nifty effects, like various blurs and color pulses and so forth, that really make the mazes feel alive and pulsing. Some pretty powerful techno music pumps through the place, and with the reconfiguring mazes, point scores everywhere, and zipping ghosts, the thing is pretty pleasant to watch.
I don't recall all the details of the various modes, but there's one where the mazes go dark, so you only see the dots, not the walls. That gets tricky. There's one where you're in very long, linear mazes, moving very fast. Some of the others all seemed at first glance pretty similar; maybe they had slightly different scoring or progression mechanics, I dunno.
While I do wish there was an "endless" mode, the Pac-action here looks and plays great. The fast time limits mean that you can still take a stab at a competitive score even if you only have five minutes to play. Gobbling dots for score is more addictive than ever.