Pac-Man Championship Edition was a masterclass in how to take a classic game and fit it into a modern template. It kept what people loved about the original but made it faster, more compelling and borderline addictive. Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 walks a similar line, and while it may do a little too much for its own good, is yet another excellent addition to the franchise.
A sequel such as this is always difficult. A developer doesn’t want to stick too rigidly to the first incarnation but, similarly, iterating for the sake of it can take away some of the magic. There’s definitely more than enough pluses to justify Pac-Man Championship Edition 2’s existence, but Namco Bandai probably could have held back a little as well.
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Champion Edition 2's core gameplay remains lightning quick and instantly satisfying. You’re still Pac-Man and your goal is still to eat pellets while avoiding ghosts, but Championship Edition 2 is much more focused on your score than just seeing if you can survive. The aim is to complete a level in as short a time as possible while amassing a score that will drive friends mad as they try, and fail, to beat it.
Namco's also made numerous additions that can change your play style significantly. The first of these is ‘ghost bumping’, which allows you to literally bump off ghosts. It’s been introduced to keep proceedings quick.
There’s nothing more Pac-Man than having to start again because you mistimed things and cornered yourself. Now, though, a single tap will see you bounce off your foe and keep on munching. The trick is not to do it in quick succession. Do this and the ghost loses its temper, becoming twice as fast and twice as vicious. It becomes very difficult to escape when they’re in this mood, although more skilled players can use it to their advantage. If you need to free up a pathway, for example, tactically angering a ghost is an option. Just make sure you’re quick to react.
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On top of this there are bomb jumps (so you can now leap around the maze), the ability to brake, and also time your turns so you take a corner quicker. All have been introduced to be mastered and doing so gives a very real sense of progression, especially when you get to the later levels.
The game never becomes overwhelming, but some stages flip the difficulty switch out of nowhere. If you’re not a pro when you get here, you most certainly will be afterwards.
Boss battles are another new addition. Battles are transforming stages where damage is dealt to the boss by successfully completing parts of them. It’s a nice way to change up Championship Edition 2’s pace without veering too far away from the original's template.
Throughout all of this, it’s the levels themselves that are the real appeal. Designed perfectly and always keeping you on your toes, they’ll also expand mid-run and even ping you off onto a completely different layout should the situation call for it. It's set up so you always believe you can do a little bit better next time round. You’ll have no issue playing them over and over until you succeed. It just doesn’t get boring.
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There are loads of levels, too, meaning Pac-Man has serious longevity and incredible depth. When it sinks its claws in – and for most people it will – it’s hard to get away.
If you like fast gameplay where lightning reactions will constantly serve you well, then games don’t come much better than this.
Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 may have a few additions for the sake of it, but it’s still one of the best score-attack games you could hope to play.