Pac-Man World Rally
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2006-09-17 PSP Racing E (Everyone) Namco Bandai / Smart Bomb Interactive

I spent Labour Day weekend at a friend's cottage. It rained and it was cold, so I really didn't feel like doing much other than cuddle with my PSP under a blanket. On Sunday night, there was a power outage, and I was glad to have just fully charged my PSP so I could play some more of Pac-Man World Rally while everyone else was bored out of their minds in the darkness.

Pac-Man World makes the jump from 3D platformer to kart racer. Pac-Man World Rally lets you hop in a little kart in the shoes of Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Inky, Blinky, Pinky, Clyde and even the Katamari Damacy Prince, among others. Characters have different "stats", so some will be faster while others will handle a lot better but have less acceleration.

Pac-Man World Rally has quite a few game modes to play through.

In Circuit Mode, the game offers a series of courses composed of four tracks each: Cherry Cup, Watermelon Cup, Grape Cup, Classic Cup and Rally Cup (which is a compilation of all the tracks). The circuits will be gradually unlocked as you win races.

Quick Race lets you hop into any track you have unlocked for a few laps with any character you have unlocked. Challenges have Time Trials (get the best time possible on a race), Clockbuster (collect as many dots as possible and clocks to keep the timer going) and Letter Hunt (collect the letters that spell Pac-Man).

There is also a Battle Mode with five different variations to play. Deathmatch and Free For All are revolve around eliminating opponents as many times as possible. Last Kart Driving is a survival type of match. Binge has you running around collecting the most fruit while damaging your opponents with funny weapons such as a Banana Ram, Cherry Bombs, Grape Grenades and Watermelon Seed Shooters. In Classic, you try to collect the most dots, and the game ends when there are no more dots left on the track.

Pac-Man World Rally is much like Mario Kart. As you race, you pick up power-ups that you can use to make your opponent's life difficult. You can throw pac-bombs, drop snowmen and turn whoever comes behind into a block of ice, use atomic pellets to boost your speed, there is even a little Galaga ship that attaches to the front of your kart and shoots traps in your path.

Aside from these power-ups, there are also Pac-Dots. Dots will appear on the track when you run over a Power Pellet. Collect enough of them until the meter is full, and you can turn into Pac-Mobile. While you are in Pac-Mobile form, the other racers turn into blue ghosts on unicycles flailing their arms around, and you can "eat" them for points, just like in any old Pac-Man arcade maze.

You will also come across different fruits on the tracks. Pick them up and you can go through a shortcut. The gates to the shortcut will have the fruit on them, and you can only cross them if you?‚…ve picked it up. You can drop the fruit (as well as other power-ups) if another racer hits you with a trap or if you hit any moving obstacle.

The tracks are colorful and varied, and they depict a good number of themes. From a beautiful oriental garden to a space station or a spooky castle, a fun house and iceberg and a canyon, the renderings are bright and detailed. Even the popular King of All Cosmos makes his appearance in the King's Course, a Katamari Damacy-inspired track where you must dodge giant Katamaris that roll around.

The soundtrack is pretty nice, I enjoyed hearing the old classic Pac-Man music with different twists and rhythm to fit the track surroundings. The sound effects also relate to the original arcade game, though the cheers of your character once he/she wins a race become fairly annoying.

Aside from the slow loading times (at least the loading screens are cute) and not being able to skip the Awards Ceremony at the end of a circuit (yet more loading), Pac-Man Word Rally comes across as a fun, witty and enjoyable title. The cartoony look and easy controls make sure it's a good pick for younger gamers as well.

I was pleased at how entertained and amused I was by this game. And no, it wasn't just because of the boring weekend when the power went out, because I am still playing it and trying to beat my old record times.

Special thanks to Kristin Calgano and Namco Bandai for providing a copy of this title.