Is there a way to make a timing-based, competitive Pacman complete with Mario Kart style attacks and competition? If there is, it’d have to be Japanese, like the nonsensically titled Prey the Stars.
In Prey the Stars, you play a cute and mute little monster with large teeth that roams around levels and eats stuff for points. First to a certain amount of points wins. Single player is really just the
multiplayer version with all computer opponents and tutorials.
The variation comes in through different elements. Courses will take different shapes and through random elements. You start each round only being able to eat the small
items, but through the consumption of special small items that appear
at random points your monster can grow and thus be able to eat some of the bigger items. This is a key part of winning because the larger items are worth many more points and the majority of the items aren’t
small. Some items have to be licked before they are ready to be eaten. Bigger items take more bites before they are fully consumed, and all items have a timed bar wherein you must press A on the green area if you want to build up your meter to Gabu Gabu mode wherein you are mostly invincible and don’t have to time your chews. The bigger the item, the more difficult the timing.
Also in the mix are elements or types of items; in gin rummy style, you must either eat three of the same element or one of each element in order to get an one of many items that allows you to disrupt your opponents that are also eating everything in site.
This all sounds extremely weird, but the premise could easily be something else due to the game’s simplicity. The imagery and music are simple and repetitive–this could have been a Game Boy Advance game or even a flash based game.
The multiplayer is a bit more interesting than the single player, which pits you against idiots or gods. However, the distribution of food and powerups and the time it takes to eat everything make this more a simple “who gets there first” type of competition when everyone is the same speed. Trajectory shouldn’t mean this much in a zone that is shaped like a square, circle, or cross. Items are also uncommon and difficult to use to any major effect. Most of them end up being useless or doing little to alter the game, though a few are dramatic game-changers. Still, these dramatic comebacks are rare and wholly dependent on luck in a game of nominal, bore-inducing skill. There are only 4 monsters to choose from and these all must be unlocked from the single player mode. You can switch out their “skins” which will add a bonus to stats, allowing for some minor custimization, but this does little to the core gameplay.
It’s an interesting premise and the curious mix of traditional gameplay elements make it one-of-a-kind, but Prey the Stars becomes too old too fast. You’ll want to play it just to see what it’s like, but the single player is monotonous and the novelty of multiplayer quickly wears out its welcome.
ESRB: E for everyone. Cute monsters with big teeth eat simple depictions of shopping carts and birthday cakes and occasionally knock each other down. Completely safe.
Plays like: Pacman and Mario Kart combined; you’re in a race to
eat the most stuff while using random picked-up items to get ahead to
victory, and you do it on various levels with various obstacles.
Pros: So unique you’ll want to just see it. Kind of cute and mildly amusing.
Cons: Limited scope, very repetitive, gets old quickly. “Button-mashing” is usually a cliche, but it’s literally more than 100 hundred presses of the A button each match.