Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 doesn't reinvent the wheel. No, Pac-Man CE 2 knows that the wheel is outdated. Pac-Man CE 2 realizes that there is no way to make the basic wheel better, so it scraps the design for the wheel and makes something completely different. In a way, Pac-Man CE 2 shouldn't even be a sequel to the original Championship Edition, but a new title completely called Pac-Man Reinvented.
The Original Championship Edition
If you're still following my metaphor, then you will realize that the “wheel” in question is the original Pac-Man. Pac-Man is a classic, but far from timeless. Maybe it's my millennial mouth talking, but after 35 years since it's release and 18 since I first played it, the lust has faded. This all changed upon the release of Pac-Man Championship Edition and Championship Edition DX. Namco took the base gameplay of Pac-Man and cranked it to 100. It was no longer about avoiding ghosts and collecting yellow dots, but about quick reflexes and lightning-fast reaction times while you maintain a very specific pattern while under a trance-like state.
Reinventing the Reinvention
After the stellar Pac-Man CE DX, Namco could have easily made a proper sequel that offered more of the same. But instead, they made something completely different.
Touching Ghosts no longer kills you immediately and they will only kill you once they turn angry after bumping into them 3 times.
Fruit and power pellets now appear in the middle of the screen instead of on both sides.
When powered up, you can only eat a ghost chain from the very front of the chain.
These changes make CE2 one of the most intense games I've played in a long time. Dark Souls-level frustration occurs when you are wasting valuable seconds trying to corner a ghost chain. The less time you waste, the more opportunities you have to gain more points so you can move up on the leaderboard. While leaderboards shouldn't be a selling point of a game, seeing your ranking go up and down on the stage select screen is a huge incentive to “get good”. Not having to go into a completely separate screen to see your rank is something that should have been figured out years ago.
Unlike the previous championship editions, there are a variety of courses to pick from, with all but one being excellent. They are all different enough to be unique as well. You have your basic course, one with jumping pads, one with long halls, one with plenty of corners, a spiral, a throwback to the original CE and plenty more.
Buy this game!
There is so much to like about Pac-Man CE2, that it's easier to write a list of everything there is to love.
You no longer start out slow like you did in DX. You start fast and only get faster.
Changing the ghost chain properties to only allowing you to eat them from the front makes for a more intense experience.
Getting rid of the “slow-mo” from DX keeps the pace fast and exciting with little downtime.
The inclusion of a “brake” button allows for even higher level play.
The soundtrack is phenomenal. Pac Jump Up is the highlight of the entire mix.
A completely separate mode that features boss battles and quests is also in the game. I'm not even talking about it because the game already feels full of value without its inclusion.
There's not much more I can say about this game. Instead of sticking to a tried and true formula, Pac-Man continues to reinvent himself every five years. Namco should be applauded for making Pac-Man relevant again while still respecting what makes Pac-Man, Pac-Man. You would be doing yourself a disservice for not picking up Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 as it's one of this year's best. Purchase Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 here!
Note: RAGE Works Receives no commission for this article, I just really liked the game.