Announced at E3 2003 by Pac-Man creator Toru Iwatani and Nintendo master designer Shigeru Miyamoto, Pac-Man Vs. is the pure definition of GameCube/GameBoy Advance compatibility until Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles comes out February 9th. The only requirements for this game is that you have at least one friend (3 would be ideal) and one GameBoy Advance (original or SP) with the GameBoy Advance to GameCube connector. If you have those, you’re ready to go!
This game will be rated slightly different. There will be no score for graphics because it would bring the overall score down way too much.
This game is not a graphical powerhouse and is not meant to be, hence the lack of a score. On the GameBoy Advance screen you get the old Pac-Man Arcade look at the levels (there are 6 to choose from, the original one from the Arcade and 5 new ones). On the TV screen you see the level in 3D. The Forest level for instance looks a lot like Hyrule from A Link to the Past with the trees and all that. On this screen you see three circles which are the 3 ghosts as you travel around the maze to catch Pac-Man. Thing is only the person playing Pac-Man can see where everyone is in order to avoid them, the ghosts on the screen have to search for Pac-Man and chase him down.
The graphics are nothing special, but they do run at 60fps on the TV screen. Then again, we didn’t play this game for graphics, right?The new music is pretty cool, but Mario’s playcalling is horrendous. Mario spouts out such things as “Pac-Man just ate the power pill” every time Pac-Man eats a power pill. Mario’s voiceovers get old real quick and it’s the only minus in this category. The best thing about this is that on the GameBoy Advance you hear the good old chomping sounds that you heard as you kept dropping your quarters into Pac-Man over 20 years ago. Control is simple with only the analog stick to use on the GameCube controllers and the directional pad to use on the GameBoy Advance. Not too hard, then again that is what made Pac-Man so great originally…the fact that the controls were so easy.
The game is best played with 4 people, although I am only able to play with 2 currently. You plug the controllers into port 1-3 and the GameBoy Advance into port 4 (via the GBA to GC connector, available for $10). Pick your map, what point total you want to go to and then the game decides who gets to play Pac-Man first randomly. Whichever player gets it hands off the GC controller to the player holding the GBA. The 1-3 people with the GameCube controllers control the ghosts in 3D on the TV screen while the person controlling Pac-Man tries to stay away from them. Once Pac-Man is caught by a ghost, the player then hands control over Pac-Man (i.e. the GBA) to the player who caught him and you start again until one of the players reaches the point total.
My wife and I played a few sessions of Pac-Man Vs. and we found it quite enjoyable. They do add a bit of strategy to 2 or 3-player games. At the beginning the computer controlled ghosts will only be eyes to Pac-Man on the GBA screen (as if they got eaten by Pac-Man after a power pellet). It is up to one of the players to touch the transparent ghost on the TV screen in order to make them available to attack. Once you touch the ghost they will assume your color ghost (if you have 3 players total, one player will not have a same color ghost for instance) and if that computer controlled ghost gets Pac-Man you then become Pac-Man even though the ghost you’re personally controlling did not touch Pac-Man.
This game is simply a lot of fun to play and I can just imagine the excitment with 4 people playing at the same time. Even with just my wife and I we were having a lot of fun and my wife liked this game a lot.
Mario’s voiceovers will get tiring quickly, but this game is a heck of a lot of fun to play. Obviously if you have no friends this probably isn’t the best game for you to play, although you could conceivably play Pac-Man on your GBA if you play 2-player and activate the ghosts. Obviously if you also don’t have a GBA or a GBA to GC connector you won’t be playing this either. This is a rather expensive game for being a free game if you don’t already have both systems obviously.
This game is well worth it though, I mean you do get it for free (it’s in with I-Ninja, R: Racing Evolution and Pac-Man World 2…the last of which is only $19.99). However you can look at it the other way and say you’ll have to spend $110 to get a GBA and a connector in order to play. Then again, Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles is right on the horizon and you’ll need a GBA and connector for that game.