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One of my favorite downloadable games of this console generation is Namco Bandai’s Pac-Man Championship Edition series. Starting off with the original back in 2007 on Xbox Live Arcade, Pac-Man CE managed to shake up an old-school formula into new heights to encourage more competitive gameplay and high scores. The arcade classic wasn't about survival anymore and scoring becomes the #1 priority. That addiction alone made me play these games for hours trying to beat my old scores in various mazes and beat my friends. Pac-Man Championship Edition DX came out in 2010 with more mazes and gameplay additions such as bombs whenever you’re in a near death situation. Now Namco Bandai has released DLC in form of the DX+ for more players to come back to this special game and while it is more of the same, it is great to return to one of the best and most addictive downloadable classics.
For the first time in Championship Edition’s lifespan, DX+ is now available on PC via Steam. Console players have to download a free update to DX to have the DX+ content ready to go. The UI has changed with more leaderboards and trophy/achievement/medal tracking to the point it becomes a cluttered mess. While there are actually no new trophies/achievements in DX+, the new medal system is pretty new in-game achievements to get. Plus, tons of social network integration is added so if you beat a friend’s high score in a certain maze, or you got a new medal, the game will tell you whether or not you want to post your feats on Facebook. Personally I’m still not a fan of posting my gaming feats on Facebook, but at least the option is there for those that like to brag about their high scores.
The update to DX+ is free for console owners, but the new content, the main reason this exists at all, is paid. Four new mazes are available to buy for $1.99 each, new skins from past Namco classics such as Dig Dug (seen above) and Rally-X are also $1.99 each, and new BGM costs just $0.99. However, if you want to buy all the new content DX+ offers currently, there is a bundle available for purchase. Out of the new mazes, Championship III and Highway II are the must buys, while the Mountain and Big Eater courses are a nice bonus if you want more. These new mazes themselves are the most challenging of the Pac-Man CE series in terms of getting high scores and players have to plan different routing strategies than just easing through mazes like you used to do in the original and DX. The Dig Dug and Rally-X skins are nice for the sake of fan service, but you’re not missing much if you don’t buy them.
Gameplay-wise, the core Pac-Man CE formula is still as fun as it was back in 2007. The satisfying moment of eating a long ghost train remains one of my favorite memories this console generation. With the new and challenging mazes available in DX+, I find myself using bombs more than I used to back in DX. Pac-Man does move a little faster in this new version especially at max speeds too. The time trial modes are still a good alternative and a different challenge if you need a break from the normal score attack mode. Other than that, its more Pac-Man CE DX and that is not a bad thing.
When this was announced back at E3 earlier this summer, it was one of those announcements that came from out of nowhere because I would think Namco Bandai were done trying to remake their arcade classics with new twists. They surprised me again with the new content available in Pac-Man Championship Edition DX+, now out on Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network, and PC for the first time via Steam. The new mazes are good and challenging enough for players to come back again attempting to go for high scores again especially with the new leaderboard system. For PC only owners that missed out on this game for years on XBLA and PSN, now here’s your chance to see why it is one of the best and most addictive downloadable games out this generation.