What is it about that lovable yellow ball that the world has become so obsessed with? Pac-Man, born from a simple ancient arcade game that took the world by storm, has now existed in some form or another for over 30 years. 30! And yet, somehow he still manages to remain current in the gaming industry today. With a recent appearance in Nintendo's all star beat 'em up Super Smash Bros under his belt, not to mention his very own amiibo figure, Pac-Man has been riding a wave of success - and that includes a brand new platform game of his own, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2, for the Wii U, PS3, 360 and 3DS.
Following on where the surprisingly decent first game left off, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 is a spin-off of the TV show which sees Pac-Man re-imagined from his usual pixelated self into an animated, 3D "teenage" form. Kind of like Sonic, but with more yellow. Teenage Pac-Man is brave, cheeky and does a lot more world-saving than he used to when he was busy popping pills to electronic music (he's a lesson to us all). Pitted against the fittingly named Lord Betrayus, the central antagonist of the franchise, Pac-Man and his friends must save Pac-World from his many evil schemes of world domination in traditional 3D platforming style - and have a whole lot of fun doing it.
Ghostly Adventures 2 sees Pac-Man's high school classes interrupted by Lord Betrayus, who plans to give life to the evil ghosts by reclaiming their original bodies. With an army on his side Betrayus invades Pacopolis, the central city of Pac-World - and it's up to our plucky hero to stop him.
At its heart, Pac-Man is your everyday 3D platformer, with a range of varied, yet solid levels to play through. There's none of the glitchiness or awkwardness that plagues some games (we're looking at you, Sonic Boom) here, and the throwbacks to old school Pac-Man are plain to see. You can swallow little yellow Pac Pellets as you run through the levels (much like Mario's coins or Sonic's rings, you can collect 250 to get an extra life), and chow down on fruity Pac Prizes to earn a bonus (if you can find all three) - in fact, the only thing that isn't loyal to the original game is how you deal with the ghosts. Whereas in the old Pac-Man arcade machine, you had to collect a power-up to turn the enemy ghosts dark blue/transparent, and let you eat them, you can now eat them all the time, whether they're yellow, blue or any other colour.
Whether you're exploring the game's levels, chowing down on some ghosts, or trying to figure out one of the fairly basic switch flipping, door opening puzzles, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 is a game that knows its audience well. In fact, it's chock full of childish, often cringe-worthy puns which kids will undoubtedly eat up. With pun after pun throughout the game, and plenty of slapstick comedy, this is guaranteed to provide more than a few laughs for a younger audience.
As a nice touch, it's not just Pac-Man you'll be taking control of either, as for the first time, two of his buddies - Spiral and Cylindria - are playable. Each coming with their own unique features and abilities, Spiral allows players to explore in helicopter flying style, while Cylindra has her own hover board, adding some handy variety to the game.
However, despite its attempts at adding variety, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 isn't actually all that different to the last game in the series - so much so it almost feels like a simple re-skinning of the original game, only with a different story, and a few new characters bolted on for good measure.
Taking the whole "if it ain't broke don't fix it" to its logical conclusion, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures 2 may not be anything groundbreaking, but it is a solid platformer. With a young target audience in mind, this is a game that kids especially will love, and big kids will get some fun out of too. With mild and punny humour, and simple, yet solid platforming gameplay, it's a game that's easy to understand, yet one that shouldn't prove too much of a challenge for those of a younger age. While it may not be that different to its predecessor, sometimes, that's a good thing.
Format Reviewed: Nintendo Wii U