Yes, this is one of those games: perseverance is rewarded by higher scores, and higher scores increase your standing on the online leaderboards. Despite indulging in another lick of those snazzy day-glo rave surroundings and bass-heavy beats, Pac-Man hasn't strayed far from his arcade roots.
Thankfully, all progress is fed straight into your online rankings. Each maze has its own leaderboard for five and ten minute Score Attacks and Ghost Combos, as well as a cumulative effort for the many Time Attack levels; the temptation to zip back into a stage to have just one last go is usually too much to resist.
The biggest shame of the entire game, however, is Namco's failure to bring the leaderboards up to the level of its contemporaries. You have to wade through far too many menu screens to get the required information, and while you can see both your personal score and that of your friends list, you can never see both on the same screen - an absolutely baffling design decision, frankly. The game's leaderboards are a step in the right direction, but another prominent example of how Japanese developers still aren't on par with their Western counterparts when it comes to online integration.
But Namco's other modern modifications - the game's veritable abundance of sneaky nips and tucks - are often nothing short of genius. Get close to peril, for instance, and the screen will zoom in while the action slows to a crawl. This allows you either a few seconds to make a last-ditch attempt at a getaway or an agonising close-up of your impending failure. It's a genuine pride-killing moment to see your high-score attempt ruined, in slow motion, during the last moments of a game.
Bombs have also been added to the right trigger, allowing you to blast away (but not kill) an entire conga line of baddies. This move has clearly been influenced by the shmup genre the likes of Geometry Wars 2, but these get-out-of-jail-free moments don't dumb the game down: their score-punishing side effects means they're only ever used as a painful admission of failure.
What's most surprising is how Namco's excellent arcade game has arrived out of nowhere. A title of this quality could surely have stood proud amongst the best of what XBLA's Summer of Arcade and Game Feast promotions had to offer, making its bizarre through-the-backdoor entrance all the more confusing. But when the actual game is compared to the finest of its score-hungry contemporaries - Trials HD, Super Stardust HD and Geometry Wars 2 - Pac-Man Championship Edition DX is a titanic event of equal worth.
VideoGamer.com Score9 Score out of 10
- New features jazz up the game.
- Very addictive.
- Feels contemporary.
- Online leaderboards could be better.