Sunday, July 13, 2014

Pac-Man Fever is a Real Thing and I Have it Sometimes

Is there anything Japanese text can't make me want?

So I have a weird relationship with Pac-Man. Unlike the other big mascots, Mario, Sonic, what have you, Pac-Man hasn't been nearly as successful at staying relevant, I guess. It actually came as a complete surprise to me that there are people who hold the Pac-Man World games in high regard, as growing up I kind of considered them pretty crappy. Pac-Man never seemed, to me anyway, to have the same kind of appeal as Super Mario, for example, because his world just didn't seem to evolve and grow naturally at all. The world of the Pac-Man World games, for example, just seemed lame.

Lately, though I've been warming up to Pac-Man, for a few reasons. First of all, I guess in the current drought of anything remotely colorful or fun looking in the video game world, its refreshing to see a yellow ball with an impossibly huge grin running around. This isn't the 90s or even the 00s anymore, and this kind of thing just isn't everywhere like it used to be. There ain't no Klonoas or Tombas or Goemon's or really any kid friendly action platforming to be found outside of Nintendo's stuff, except maybe Skylanders, so when Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures was announced, I was actually kind of excited. Not because I thought the game was going to be necessarily anything special, but just because it was nice to see a third party try to do platforming again. I love platformers, regardless of the amount of Ds they are in, and its always nice to have options beyond just Super Mario and Donkey Kong.

Ghostly Adventures also happened to turn out okay, in my opinion way more fun than the World games. I got the Wii U version for cheap, mostly because I like playing games on my Wii U, and mostly because I feel like that's the console where colorful platformers belong, and while I wasn't blown away (no, it was no Pac-Man Galaxy), I did enjoy the time I spent with the game. Had that time been a little longer, I would have probably been even more pleased, as it was on the short side, but maybe its unfair to be a grown man playing what is clearly for children and then complain about the length or difficulty... But still, Ghostly Adventures was a solid little 3D platformer with some cool level designs and some genuinely fun power ups, probably my favorite of which was the giant rolling stone Pac-Man head. Hilarious. I also genuinely appreciate that Namco went through the trouble of developing a dedicated 3ds game, and not just a port of the console version. Haven't played it yet, but it looks like a fairly charming sidescroller something Pac-Man has sadly little experience with.

This is by far my favorite power up.

Of course, the Pac is pretty big news right now, what with him set to appear in the next Super Smash Bros. game, which I honestly find to be absolutely hilarious. This news also led to a pretty amusing Pac-Man related release in the form of the Famicom version of the arcade oddity, Pac-Land. As the first scrolling platformer ever made, Pac-Land is a pretty odd game, and the Famicom version isn't any less whacky than the arcade original. I had never played the game and picked it up as a curiosity of sorts, as my Virtual Console is reserved almost exclusively for imports and other impossible to find in real life games, but man, its actually kind of fascinating. The controls are ass backwards, the game is Bubble Bobble levels of mysterious and random, and of course, Pac has a sharp lookin' alpine hat on. Its super weird, but also surprisingly addicting. Its no Super Mario Bros. 3 for sure, but its still worth looking into for how bizarre and challenging it is.

Lately my weird fascination with the character has come to focus on these neat little K'Nex toys that come in blind bags, which I love. I've always had an obsession with tiny toys distributed randomly, and as these happened to be on sale I bought kind of a lot.
Damn it, I don't want Cylindria or Spiral at all...
I was lucky enough to get Clyde (the giant orange ghost) on my first pull, but then met defeat with two consecutive Cylindria, the little pink punk girl with the Hot Topic combat boots. I was a little pissed, but at least grateful I didn't end up getting Spiral, the red idiot. Eventually, I did end up getting Pac himself, as well as Pinky, though her bag was already opened and as such she is missing an arm. Generally I like these guys, particularly the Pac, as he can actually open his mouth INSANELY FAR, which just looks great. Each set also comes with one of the lame generic ghosts, in either scared or not scared form, so I have a ton of those populating my desk as well.

I don't really know anything about the cartoon with which all of this current Pac stuff is associated, as I don't get Disney or any of its affiliate channels and my fiance won't let me watch cartoons anyway, but I did end up seeing some amazing ads for the Japanese dub. The Japanese title for the series (including the games and toys and such) is Pac-World, which I think sounds a bit cooler than the Harry Potter style title the North American version has, and the theme song, done by generally awesome dude Hyadain, is simply amazing.

I have no idea what is wrong with my brain, but I'm honestly tempted to try to download subtitled versions of the Japanese dub rather than watch the North American version. I am, in fact, a lunatic.

Anyway, so that's a quick summary of my recent and totally inexplicable romance with Pac-Man. I know that alot of people really hate the new design and direction or something, but it honestly doesn't seem any worse than anything else that has ever come out of the franchise, and I kinda love Pac's sneakers. Oh well.

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