Pac-Man Museum+ – All the Dot Eating Action than You Can Handle

Pac-Man Museum+ cover art

Released on: May 27, 2022

Available Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC, Playstation 4, XBOX One

Price: $25.99 CAD ($19.99 US)

Developed by: Now Production Co., Ltd. Published by: Bandai Namco Entertainment Inc.

Who doesn’t love the good old arcade classics? There is a reason why certain games are classics. They are still fun to play today and built the foundation for many indie games. Since the days of the arcade are sadly past us (at least in North America), it gets harder to play those games in their original format. Thankfully, many arcade games receive ports on modern consoles so that veteran players can replay their favorites, and newer players can experience these classics for the first time. Today, we look at a game compilation for a series that, I feel, barely needs any introduction: Pac-Man Museum+.

Ever since I was little, my mother and I would play Pac-Man on Super Nintendo. She would tell me how she was a wizard at Pac-Man in her heyday. I guess the love for video games runs in the family, as I’ve loved Pac-Man since my mom showed it to me. With the new Pac-Man Museum+ released on Xbox’s PC Game Pass (and PC Game Pass being $1 for three months certainly helped), I took the opportunity to explore what this compilation had to offer. Is Pac-Man Museum+ worth the price of admission?

Pac-Man Museum+ Title screen

Pac-Man Museum+ opens with the player controlling everybody’s favorite yellow circle Pac-Man in a customizable arcade room. There are a bunch of arcade machines strewn about, and there are some decorations as well. As far as presentation goes, it is inviting. The feeling of guiding Pac-Man to his next game of choice reminds me of walking into an arcade. It gives me a sense of nostalgia.

I commend the developers for adding so much attention to detail to the arcade room. Graphically speaking, it is solid. Pac-Man has his classic look from the Pac-Man World series, and the arcade machines, as far as I can tell, look authentic to their real-life counterparts. My favorite aspect of Pac-Man Museum+’s arcade room is the ghosts. As the player keeps playing games, the ghosts will come to hang out in the arcade room with Pac-Man. Despite only having one expression each, I love their faces. Inky (the blue ghost) especially stands out to me, as he looks so happy to be there!

Pac-Man Museum+ happy ghost
Blinky is having the time of his life!

Of course, the big reason for most people to play Pac-Man Museum+ is the selection of games. Thankfully, there are fourteen games in this compilation (some of them have to be unlocked):

Pac-Man

Pac-Man cover art

For those who genuinely have no idea what Pac-Man is, Pac-Man is a game where players must eat all the dots in the maze while avoiding ghosts. If the player eats the big dot (the Power Pellet), the ghosts will turn a deep blue, and the player can eat them while they are in that state to earn a significant point bonus. Pac-Man is a classic by every definition of the word. To call it a must-play is an understatement. 

Super Pac-Man

Super Pac-Man cover art

Super Pac-Man has Pac-Man eating keys to complete each maze. Getting the keys will remove walls blocking the player from getting additional keys. Super Pac-Man has two power-ups: the Power Pellet and the green Super Pellet. The Power Pellet does the same thing as in the original game (turns the ghosts blue), while the Super Pellet makes Pac-Man huge. While Pac-Man is big, he can go through barriers and ignore active ghosts.

I never played the original Super Pac-Man when it was released, so getting to play it here was a treat. It plays much differently than the original Pac-Man, focusing on getting the keys. Of course, Pac-Man can still eat fruit and ghosts to give him a point bonus, but in the end, the goal is getting all the keys. I liked that Super Pac-Man forged its own identity while staying true to its predecessor at its core.

Pac & Pal

Pac & Pal cover art

Pac & Pal follows much of the same formula as Super Pac-Man, except Pac-Man now has a friend (a green creature named Mil) helping him get items. To reveal the items, Pac-Man must turn over cards by touching them. Those same cards will also show Power and Super Pellets for Pac-Man. As a whole, Pac & Pal is much more forgettable. It plays too similar to Super Pac-Man, and Mil is much more distracting than helpful. 

Pac-Land

Pac-Land cover art

Pac-Man’s first side-scrolling adventure, Pac-Land has Pac-Man travel through different worlds, eating fruits and avoiding obstacles such as pits, ghosts, and roadblocks. I imagine that Pac-Land was revolutionary for its time since it was released before the critically acclaimed Super Mario Bros. By today’s standards, though, I feel Pac-Land is a little stiff in its controls. It is not bad per se; it simply failed to leave much of an impression on me. 

Pac-Mania

Pac-Mania cover art

Pac-Mania returns to its original maze sprawling gameplay, except now the visuals are oblique. The graphics have an almost 3D-like feel and are way ahead of their time. Pac-Mania still looks nice even today. It has more ghosts chasing the player, and the maze is no longer fully visible. To compensate for these elements, Pac-Man can now jump over ghosts. While it might seem like this makes the game easier at first, later levels introduce ghosts that can jump as well. Not only that, but the player needs foresight to not jump into an active ghost. Pac-Mania brings a lot of new elements to the table, making it a refreshing experience for fans of the original arcade game.

Pac-Attack

Pac-Attack Super Nintendo cover art

Pac-Attack is a falling block puzzle game, similar to Tetris and Puyo Puyo. Four kinds of pieces fall in any combination: regular blocks, ghosts, Pac-Man, and fairies. The blocks are identical to the ones in Tetris, where the only way to eliminate them is by creating a horizontal line with them. Ghosts are there to break the lines if the player isn’t careful with their placement. Pac-Man’s job is to eat the ghosts when he shows up, and the fairy eliminates ghosts within a specific range.

While there are objectively better games in Pac-Man Museum+, Pac-Attack holds a special place in my heart. I love puzzle games of this nature, and I must respect the crazy idea of turning Pac-Man into a falling block puzzle game. It is a crazy idea but an entertaining one.

Pac-in-Time

Pac-in-Time title screen

Pac-in-Time stars our hero Pac-Man, turned into a Pac-Boy by the evil ghost witch. To reverse this terrible curse, he must travel through time in a series of platforming levels to find the wicked witch and stop her nonsense. Along the way, Pac-Man will use items to help him collect all of the power pellets to proceed to the next level. 

Pac-in-Time might needs its own full review, but to summarize, it is a guilty pleasure of mine. I can’t entirely agree with many design elements (needing to find all the dots to complete the level, for example). Still, using the rope to swing around is fun, and the idea is ridiculous enough to enjoy.

Pac-Man Arrangement

Pac-Man arrangement cover art

There are two versions of Pac-Man Arrangement in Pac-Man Museum+. Pac-Man Arrangement takes the original Pac-Man and gives it new graphics, more items, a new ghost, and new mechanics. At this point, I started realizing how Pac-Man as a series evolved from its original arcade days. It’s neat to see all of the advancements and new additions to the classic game. As for the game itself, it is more Pac-Man, with different mechanics. There are different mazes for certain rounds, and there are even bosses. I recommend giving either version a shot if the player wants an ever-changing Pac-Man experience.

Pac-Man Championship Edition

Pac-Man Championship Edition cover art

Take the classic Pac-Man game, make it contemporary, increase the speed, and we get Pac-Man Championship Edition. This is one of my favorite renditions of Pac-Man. The visuals are colorful, the controls are fantastic, and the gameplay is action-packed. This is another game in the collection that I could easily recommend.

Pac-Motos

Pac-Motos cover art

Pac-Motos challenges the player to knock all of the enemies off of the board as Pac-Man to proceed to the next world. A straightforward game concept, Pac-Motos is fun for a few minutes, but I found myself bored of it rather quickly. It is worth giving a shot for a while, but it feels more like a minigame than a full-fledge Pac-Man game.

Pac’ n Roll Remix

Pac 'n Roll cover art

Pac’ n Roll Remix has Pac-Man roll his way across different levels collecting dots to open the gate to the next stage. Along the way, Pac-Man will collect various power-ups to make controlling him much more manageable. Pac’ n Roll initially used the Nintendo DS touch screen to control Pac-Man. The Pac-Man Museum+ version, however, uses typical button controls.

Pac’ n Roll is a unique idea, and I can see it being casually entertaining. While it isn’t a game I am always in the mood to play, if I want a marble-rolling style game, Pac ‘n Roll is a good choice to fit that specific itch. Especially since the Pac-Man Museum+ version does away with frivolous motion controls.

Pac-Man Battle Royale

Pac-Man Battle Royale cover art

Not to be confused with Pac-Man 99, Pac-Man Battle Royale puts up to four players in the iconic Pac-Man maze to eat dots on the screen until a Power Pellet appears. When it does, the player that eats the Power Pellet can eat ghosts and other players. The last player standing is the winner. It is a unique and exciting concept that I love. It’s a shame I didn’t have people to play it with since I feel Pac-Man Battle Royale would be a blast at parties.

Pac-Man 256

Pac-Man 256 cover art

Pac-Man 256 takes the familiar gameplay of Pac-Man and turns it into an endless-runner type game. The player eats as many dots as possible and collects power-ups while avoiding ghosts and the ever-present glitching maze that chases the player. If the player runs into a ghost or falls prey to the glitch, it’s game over.

I always thought turning the infamous kill screen from the original Pac-Man into a full game was a hilarious idea. It works wonderfully, the controls are tight and responsive, and there are a lot of power-ups to unlock. It makes Pac-Man 256 an addicting experience, and I love that they included it in Pac-Man Museum+.

Pac-Man Museum+ has the player spend coins to play some of the games and unlock more furniture to decorate the arcade. While at first glance, I was concerned that these coins needed real money to purchase. I soon learned, however, that the player can earn these coins by completing missions and achieving high game scores. The player also begins Pac-Man Museum+ with five hundred coins with the possibility to earn more. There was thought put into making the arcade experience feel as authentic as possible while not needing real money to enjoy the game.

One thing I have to mention regarding these games is that the developers had to change any reference to Ms. Pac-Man from the original games. Due to some legal mumbo-jumbo, Bandai Namco doesn’t have the rights to the character. Instead, they replaced the character. While I understand that this doesn’t affect the game other than aesthetically, more critical gamers might question excluding such a prolific character.

The only other thing I will say about Pac-Man Museum+ is that there is a lot of Pac-Man here. While there are a slew of games I never had the chance to play when they were released, it is a lot of Pac-Man to take in, especially if one plays all of them in short succession. It is nice to load Pac-Man Museum+ to enjoy a few rounds of Pac-Man of the player’s choosing, but playing them all in one sitting can get tedious.

Pac-Man Museum+ offers a whole collection of both timeless and obscure Pac-Man titles for a wide range of players. For those who have Game Pass, this title is a no-brainer. Fans of Pac-Man looking for a decent compilation of the yellow circle’s anthology can’t go wrong with Pac-Man Museum+ either. I recommend enjoying Pac-Man Museum+ in short bursts to avoid burning oneself out.

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