PLATFORM: PC, PS4/5, SWITCH, XBOX ONE/SERIES (REVIEWED) | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
To celebrate Pac-Man's 42nd birthday, Pac-Man Museum+ brings together 14 titles from the little yellow fella's rich history and adds a handful of enhancements to make the overall package more appealing to modern players. The majority of these games have been seen on many platforms over the years, but the inclusion of several more obscure titles means that most players are likely to find at least one or two games that they haven't crossed paths with before.
You may well ask why anyone would want or need 14 different versions of Pac-Man. While the original arcade edition will undoubtedly be the most familiar, with its iconic sound effects and pellet-popping ghost-gobbling gameplay, attempts were quickly made to shake things up and convince players to keep shovelling their coins into cabinet after cabinet. The first official sequel, 1982's Super Pac-Man (for legal reasons, Ms. Pac-Man – chronologically the second game in the franchise – doesn't count and isn't included here), throws keys and locked doors into the mix, and its subsequent follow-up, Pac & Pal (1983), adds a “helpful” buddy who tries to steal items away from you. Then there's the side-scrolling Pac-Land which pre-dates Mario by a couple of years (in looks, sound and, in all honesty, fun), and Pac-Mania drastically increases the size of the maze and allows players to avoid ghosts by jumping over them.
A move to home consoles in the late 80s didn't dampen developers' enthusiasm for experimentation. 1993's tile-based puzzler Pac-Attack comes across like a combination of Tetris, Columns and Dr. Mario, and side-scrolling 2D puzzle-platformer Pac In Time takes the series even further away from its roots, adding a variety of power-ups and special abilities that Pac-Man uses to navigate his way through exotically-themed levels. Pac-Motos (2007) is a sumo-esque party game where players have to roll into various objects and enemies to bump them off the sides of the stage, and Pac n' Roll Remix is a series of short but enjoyable 3D stages full of unique twists. Pac-Man Battle Royale is about as much fun as multiplayer Pac-Man can get (if you eat a pellet, you can eat your opponents!), and Pac-Man 256 drops players into an endless maze full of upgradeable power-ups. Throw in a couple of “arrangement” versions (basically updated and re-jigged spins on older titles) and the fantastic 2007 Championship Edition to round out the package, and there's a heck of a lot to get through.
It's a shame that the superior Championship Edition DX+ isn't included but, other than that, there's very little to grumble about. A nicely varied collection of titles featuring one of gaming's most iconic characters, Pac Man Museum+ really shows how innovative and addictive the series has been throughout the years. With online leaderboards and in-game “missions” adding a few extra hooks to keep players coming back, those with a fondness for retro classics are very well served indeed with this collection.