Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions: Depth, but no depth

August 29, 2011

Namco Bandai’s Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions is one of those carts you get near the beginning of a system’s life span: a compilation of various tech demos and experiments the company made to prepare for developing games for it, polished up and thrown out into the world. And in that context, the game’s successful.

Here’s what you get in this little package: Two original tech-demo games (Pac-Man Tilt and Galaga 3D Impact), slightly 3D-ified but intact versions of Pac-Man CE and Galaga Legions and emulated versions of the original Pac-Man and Galaga. There’s also a short trailer video, but don’t watch it. Ever. It’s not worth it, people.

We’ll start with the original titles. Pac-Man Tilt is, well, not Pac-Man. It’s a mostly pinball-themed side-scrolling platformer, where you move Pac-Man around and jump to collect pellets and get to the end of the level. Tilting the system adjusts the trajectory of jumps, lets you roll faster down hills and is generally what the challenge is based around. (Thankfully, the team disabled 3D for a game with tilt controls. They’ve learned, thankfully.) You’ll use springs and flippers to try to careen across the screen as fast as possible and collecting the most points. (There is one little Pac-Man element added, though: the Power Pellet. You collect them, and can activate one to try to quickly hit a patch of ghosts to collect more points.) No one’s going to obsess over it, but in this context it’s a nice, simple diversion.

Galaga 3D Impact is Face Raiders without your face. Basically. It’s first-person, move-the-system-around-and-shoot Galaga, with pre-designed waves of increasing challenge. We’d explain more if there were anything to say, really. It’s not a horrible experience, but it’s nothing to convince someone to pick up this cart.

While the first two are more innovative attempts that may fall flat, the ports of Pac-Man CE and Galaga Legions are solid, safe and generally just fun. For the uninitiated, CE and Legions are remixes of the original games, with both sporting modern visuals and each making the respective core gameplay more dynamic and exciting than methodical. CE goes for breaking up the board into successive waves of pellet formations, and goes on forever. Legions turns the ’80s classic into more of a ’90s Capcom-ish shooter, with lots of bullets to shoot lots of enemies with. There’s nothing here (except a slight coat of depth) that make them better than the originals, and the console DX versions of both are more full-featured. Still, these are fun to play and it’s nice to carry them around on a system with buttons.

Lastly (and really, that’s the placement they deserve) are the emulated arcade games. These are not what you came here for. It’s not pleasant to play a vertical-screen game letterboxed into a small horizontal screen. There are no depth effects in the game, though if you want, you can play with it curving the screen like an old CRT to “emulate the arcade experience” or something. It’s… well, we guess it’s still nice to have them added, but the way they’re set up, it seems like it’s a full emulator shell that could’ve also supported Ms. Pac-Man, Galaxian and such and fleshed out the available games.

Ultimately, none of these games are worth the price of admission, but all of them aren’t so bad as the thing to keep in your pocket if you get bored. It’s getting cheap quick, and since it is, it’s already a respectable pickup.

Score: 3/5

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