I think Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is a creepypasta that’s yet to show its hand. There’s something dark lurking beneath this vibrant, enthusiastic exterior. Something twisted and horrifying. The clincher is, the game, and even the series, are intriguing and interesting enough to lure people in, with a false promise of happy, mischievious adventures of a yellow Pac-Worlder and his multicolored Pac-Worlder and ghostly friends.
A yellow Pac-World that is the only one to survive a massive genocide of all yellow Pacs. Who is responsible for allowing a being that is essentially the Pac-Worlder devil and his minions out of the netherworld. And, worst of all, who furthers his own life and maybe even seeks immortality by keeping a collection of the eyes of every ghost he eats. All the while, he’s being watched by a overly interested scientist called Sir Cumference.
Not to mention, from what I’ve been told and seen from the cartoon, all of the "ghosts" are people who were on the losing side of the Pac-World War. Which means their punishment, presumably for all eternity, is to walk the realms between life and death.
This is a children’s show and game, right? Just checking.
Actually, I think that extra touch of creepiness actually enhances the Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures experience. Part of it is also probably the fact that I came in with my expectations pretty low. After all, the last Pac-Man game I played was Pac-Man Party, so I wasn’t really expecting a platformer I’d not only enjoy, but actually look forward to mastering.
Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures starts off in medias res, so if you haven’t been keeping up with the cartoon, you’ll have no idea what’s going on. Again, I think this added an extra touch of hilarity, as I was coming in blind, having never seen the cartoon before playing the Wii U game. One minute, Pac-Man, who also goes by the Pacster, is in a Sir C’s lab. He’s with two other Pacs called Cylindrea and Spiral, as well as Blinky, Inky, Pinky and Clyde. Everyone learns Betrayus, the aforementioned Netherworld overlord, has raised up his ghost army to assault Pac-World again. Pac-Man is sent out, because yellow Pacs are the only ones who can eat ghosts. (Hence the whole Yellow Pac genocide.) Then, he’s out eating ghosts. But after that, he’s apparently in a high school, which also has Sir C’s lab attached to it and President Spheros, the man in charge of Pac-World, living inside of it.
The levels of Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures are typical platformer fare. Pac-Man must go through the area, in the hopes of finding a single piece of fresh fruit. Naturally, there will be malicious ghosts to eat along the way. (And pocket their eyes.) Some Pac-Worlders may also be trapped in the ghosts slime, and it will fall to Pac-Man to gobble up the slime and set them free. There are an assortment of levels in various worlds, with each world having a different visual theme.
What surprised me is how much fun it is to actually go through the levels, devouring those suffering eternal punishment. Pac-Man controls well, and while it isn’t a terribly challenging game, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures can keep a player on his or her toes with constantly disappearing and reappearing platforms, areas that require Power Berry abilities to reach, and occasionally overwhelming hordes of ghosts. Still, even that isn’t a problem, as Pac-Man’s standard bite attack almost always chains ghost nibbles together, so long as you keep pressing the attack button and aren’t wearing the chameleon costume.
Though, it really isn’t a costume. It’s an actual, full-body upgrade. Pac-Man can find and eat various colored Power Berries that temporarily change his physiology. He starts out as normal Pacster, with an eating attack and the ability to scare and stun ghosts with an all-mighty, "Boo!" However, he quickly gets access to fire, ice, chameleon, magnet, rubber, and rock abilities. Each one can make traversing areas and fighting ghosts easier, and are often necessary to get that sweet fruit at the end of the level. Fire and ice give fire and ice projectile powers, naturally. Chameleons can swing with their tongue and turn invisible. Rocks and bowl over enemies. Rubber lets Pac-Man bounce higher, and magnetism lets Pac-Man run along metal surfaces and attract ghosts.
Really, there was only one thing I didn’t like about Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, and that was the camera. About 70% of the time, we’d be cool with each other, doing our respective things. The other 30% of the time, it just wouldn’t respond properly and would be showing me parts of Pac-World I didn’t want to see, when I really wanted to know if the appearing and disappearing platform in front of me was still there so, you know, Pac-Man could jump onto it. It’s easily solved by constantly having a right thumb resting on the right analog stick to keep everything in line, but sometimes you don’t want to constantly baby-sit a camera.
I’m not too keen about needing tokens to play the mini-games though, either. If you get a certain amount of fruit from completing levels, you can use them to unlock a mini-game in the school. Except, a mini-game is set up in an arcade machine, which needs tokens earned from playing other levels. The games are unremarkable, but as is the local multiplayer.
The separate, local multiplayer lets people turn the tables on Pac-Man. A player and up to three friends can each control a ghost in a maze, hunting down a computer-controlled Pac-Man. Think of it as a variation of Nintendo Land‘s Luigi’s Ghost Mansion, only much less stressful. Mainly, because Pac-Man’s AI is absolutely terrible. I proposed that his conscience was getting to him, after devouring so many ghosts, and he was letting us win. Still, after playing the aforementioned Luigi’s Ghost Mansion with friends and making wonderful gaming memories, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventure’s futile attempt to inject multiplayer didn’t cut it.
Still, that doesn’t really matter. What does is that Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is actually a good game. It isn’t terribly demanding or exciting, and the camera may get up to some mischief, but it definitely kept me entertained. Especially so, as I started to ponder the intricities of the new Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures universe.
There’s just one thing I have to wonder about, after playing through Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures and devouring hundreds of ghosts. Clearly, these are not like the days of the original Pac-Man, where a devoured ghost would simply return to the den after being chomped. Pac-Man is keeping the eyes of these apparitions, suggesting that when they’re eaten, these souls are extinguished for good. Which means their eternal suffering of living between worlds is finally over. Perhaps the deep, dark secret of Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures is that the ghosts are escaping from the Netherworld to be eaten by Pac-Man, so their time in limbo can finally end.
Food for Thought: A Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures-inspired Creepypasta
He saves the eyes.
You run through the forest, through the dark. You know someone is just behind you. Somebody is watching.
He eats their souls.
Your only crime is picking the wrong side. They were the Resistance. You were part following the world’s ruler. Propaganda made you think you were in the right. You were just following orders.
No one escapes the Pac-Man.