Pac-Man is right up there with gaming's most recognisable mascots, and Galaga has some definite history of its own. And realising the pulling power that both of these franchises have, Namco Bandai has decided to team them up to create Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions. But before you get carried away with the possibilities, this isn't some weird hybrid game where Pac-Man flies around in space shooting up aliens. No, this is a collection of three games from each franchise: some old, some new.
Let's start off with the old. There are four games here. First up, you've got the original arcade versions of both Pac-Man and Galaga. They are faithfully recreated on the Nintendo 3DS and if you enjoyed them in their original form, then you'll have great fun here.
Next up, you've got Pac-Man Championship Edition and Galaga Legions - both great titles. However, it's a bit disappointing that they were included in the package as there are better versions out there that Namco Bandai could have included. For example, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX. It's quite disappointing, but not because Pac-Man Champion Edition is a bad game - far from it. It's disappointing because there was a better option available and Namco chose to go with the original.
What separates Pac-Man Championship Edition from the original isn't just the vibrant colours, it's also the increased speed and amended layout. It doesn't work in waves like the original. Now you have to complete each side of the maze to continue going - once you collect a bonus item, dots re-appear with things getting progressively harder. It's a load of fun and there are lots of different modes to try out.
With Galaga Legions, the same thing scenario is again applicable. Since this released, Galaga Legions DX has been released, yet Namco chose to include the original the package instead of the follow-up.
Legions saw the gameplay of Galaga renovated in a huge way. It was still a fixed shooter, but the enemy patterns and gameplay were quite different. It also added the ability to fix gun positions at certain points on the map for strategy. Not only did this lead to a more tense gameplay experience, it also allowed the developers to be more creative with how waves of enemies entered in the fray.
To try and sweeten the deal, Namco did include two original titles - Pac-Man Tilt and Galaga 3D Impact. The problem is, they aren't that great compared to Pac-Man Champion Edition or Galaga Legions.
Pac-Man Tilt goes well away from the roots of Pac-Man by becoming a 2D side-scrolling platformer. Here, you have to control not only Pac-Man, but also the world around him - hence 'Tilt'. It's one of those mechanics where the developers clearly had good intentions, but it never feels all that comfortable. And when one of the core mechanics isn't that entertaining, it does spell problems for the experience as a whole.
It's quite disappointing really, as Pac-Man Tilt tries to offer something new. And the fact it doesn't work that well isn't anything damning about the concept - it's just not implemented that well.
The same can also be said about Galaga 3D Impact, where the developers have tried to take the Galaga Legions experience into the third dimension. Again, there are good intentions here, but the implementation isn't the best - it feels quite forced and well, boring.
As you go through space, seeing everything from a first-person perspective, enemies will fly in from different parts of the screen. You can either use the analog nub or the gyroscopic sensor to look around and while doing so, you can shoot at various targets. It all goes quite slow though, and you have very little control - especially during set pieces. Compared to Galaga Legions, it's very lacklustre. Gone is the fast-paced, tight gameplay. It's been replaced by something which ironically feels antiquated.
What's also ironic is that Galaga Legions looks better graphically, despite being released around three years ago. It wasn't designed for the system either, while Galaga 3D Impact most certainly was. Pac-Man Tilt at least tries something new though and its quite vibrant, even if the gameplay sometimes detracts from the game's visuals.
Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions is a complication that comes from the right place - it just doesn't include the right games. Including the original titles make sense, it's a good way for newer gamers to see where the roots of each franchise are. However, the brand new experiences just aren't up to scratch. Comparing Pac-Man Champion Edition and Galaga Legions to Pac-Man Tilt and Galaga 3D Impact is quite painful, and they aren't even the best versions available at the moment. Depending on your tastes, you may find a few games in this collection to keep you occupied, but it's ironic that neither of them are the original games developed for this compilation.
|It's great to see a franchise like Galaga in the limelight.|
|You should find at least one game that you enjoy.|
|Pac-Man Championship Edition and Galaga Legions get in more people's hands.|
|Pac-Man Tilt's mechanics don't work that well.|
|Galaga 3D Impact feels very slow.|
|Both DX versions were omitted from the package.|