NINTENDO DS REVIEW: PAC N ROLL

Pac-Man sure seems to get himself into a lot of trouble for such a simple symbol. What started out as a circle with a piece missing, moving around a maze munching dots, has now become a full fledged platform action star thanks to some clever marketing and his rendering into a 3D character complete with a personality overhaul. His popularity is unrivaled and while it's good to see him out working in new projects instead of appearing in hackneyed "classics" collections, maybe we're seeing too much of him, although it's bound to coincide with the release of any new console or handheld system.

This is the second Pac-Man game released for the DS in a few short months. It's not a sequel and it uses less of the DS's ability than the previous release, Pac-Pix. Pac n' Roll is not a unique concept. It's a ball rolling game in the tradition of Super Monkey Ball where the object is to guide a ball around a maze-like environment filled with various obstacles, hazards, ramps, hills, valleys, walls and collectibles such as pellets and power-ups.

Control is assigned to the stylus. It's impossible to use your finger or any other device since there are some moves that require a pinpoint precision offered only by the stylus. Pac-Man will follow a path that you outline with the stylus. The physics is a little different than Super Monkey Ball because Pac-Man isn't exactly a normal ball. He's got a fair amount of grip that allows him to travel up inclines which also keeps him from rolling out of control down a hill. He won't exactly stand still on an incline as he will definitely be affected by gravity but not to the extent that you might expect. It takes some time to get used to moving him around. By dragging the stylus from one end of the screen to the other you can give Pac a boost that will get his ass rolling a lot faster. This move can only be accessed by the stylus - fingers are too fat.

Platform staples such as elevators, teeter totters, booby traps and chasms are tough enough to negotiate while you're out on a pellet munch but since this is Pac-Man, the ghosts aren't far behind. They will badger you and threaten your life. You can try to avoid them or you can find the power pellets and chow down on the annoying little bastards. Unlike the original game, once you eat a ghost it never returns. The power pellets aren't always so easy to find. You will have to look high and low as well as smash some creates to find the tough ones.

Things are hidden all over each level. There are two different helmets that you can wear to give you special powers. One makes you heavy and strong which allows you to sink to the bottom of a lake to collect other power-ups. The other helmet makes you faster and lighter but it makes you less strong and more prone to attacks.

To clear a particular level you will have to collect a certain amount of pellets. If you want to extend the replay value you can try to find all of the pellets. Along the way you will also find some gems which in turn will open new challenges for you such as a Challenge and Time Trials mode.

Pac n' Roll has a great 3D look to. The camera is fixed which helps to maintain a smooth and steady framerate. The game is well colored but lacks significant detail. There is only one song per level and the characters talk in an annoying gibberish.

The gameplay may be too consistent (read: repetitive) for continuous play, but an hour here and there may be just what the doctor ordered.

Preview by Vaughn

It's not often you run across a videogame character with the longevity of the Super Mario's, the Donkey Kong's etc. but Namco's Pac-Man has gone the distance and has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity over the last few years. Namco eager to get in on the ground floor of Nintendo's new handheld is offering a couple of different Pac-Man titles. Pac N Roll is a 3D ghost gobbling take on the originals arcade roots.

While the upper screen showcases the action, the lower screen is all about control Players use the lower DS touch screen to contol Pac Man's movements around the 3D environments. Pac actually rolls around the screen, much like Super Monkey Ball, hence the title of the game. Moving the stylus quickly across the screen will increase Pac's speed around the various levels. Sounds very interesting.

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System: DS
Dev: Namco
Pub: Namco
Released: Aug 2005
Players: 1
Review by StewXX
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
4.0
CONTROL
4.0
MUSIC/FX
2.0
VALUE
3.0