Pac-Man World: Re-Pac: Return of the 7s

The Pac is... adjacent

Good news, folks; all the big, famous platform games have finally been remade. Now they can move onto the 7/10s. And they have, with this inexplicable revisit to the PlayStation's not-so-iconic Pac-Man World, a 1998 quasi-3D platformer starring everyone's favourite drug addict. Now, please understand - I use 7/10 here as something of a shorthand for a certain attitude, I think you know what I'm talking about. If I were reviewing Pac-Man World (the original) I'd probably give it a 6, using the whole scale as I usually do. That means above average, which means it's good. I have never found it to be particularly excellent, or outstanding in any real respect. As a whole package it comes together quite well. Pac-Man's moves are fun. The integration of classic Pac-stuff like dots, mazes, ghosts etc is pretty skilful. Level design is fine, there's a decent level of challenge.

The main issue with Pac-Man World is in its structure per-level. Essentially you're needing to collect various types of fruit to unlock various types of doors. This tends to merit backtracking, which is not particularly fun in a platformer in most scenarios. I'd expect it somewhat from a more open-plan game like - yes! - Gex: Deep Cover Gecko, but in Pac-Man World it seems like a bit of a drag. Not a game-killer, but not ideal for players like me who want to collect everything.

And so we come to Re-Pac, a remake of a game that only really skirted the cusp of being fondly remembered. It's a glow-up in some respects, with nice cartoonish graphics and a relatively admirable dedication to the original's feel and level design, but that's not necessarily a good thing when said design left a little to be desired. I'm being too negative, though, as there are clever ideas here, strong concepts such as Metal Pac-Man being able to walk underwater to collect further treasures, and Pac-Man eating his way through the sky along a line of "dots" (his pills, you know) never really gets old. The translation of Pac-Man's... Pac-mannerisms is very cute and quite enjoyable. It's a fine game. It will entertain you. It has not been compromised besides the usual de-soulification of the old PlayStation visuals, replaced with clean Unity ones.

The thing that fascinates me most, and will probably generate some online wank I'll need to ignore, is the fact that I tested it on two formats and came away preferring the inferior one - the Switch port. On PlayStation 5, Re-Pac runs - to my eyes - at a locked 60fps. It feels smooth. It feels wrong. The remake adheres so closely to the PS1 original that I found the Switch's fussy 30fps port to be a closer, more comforting experience.

And I know; that's a little silly. But lower framerates do sometimes suit the content more; this, for me, is a strong example. It's a PS1-ass game and it feels weird without a PS1-ass framerate. So I stuck it out on Switch instead of PS5, and I dug it. I had a lot of fun. Pac-Man World: Re-Pac is absolutely not an amazing game by any reasonable metric, but it is good fun and I hope that its remake will open the doors for a bunch of other PS1 platformers to make a comeback. You know what I'm talking about. It's tail time.