North American cover art.
Game Boy Advance
Pac-Man World: 20th Anniversary[a], also known as simply Pac-Man World, is a 1999 3D platform video game developed and published for the PlayStation by Namco. Controlling Pac-Man, the player must complete each of the game's six worlds, featuring five stages each, by collecting a certain amount of pellets to open up an exit door. The plot follows Pac-Man's enemies, the ghosts, crashing his 20th birthday and kidnapping his friends to bring them to their homeland of Ghost Island — with his birthday in ruins and his family in trouble, Pac-Man sets out to rescue them and defeat the ghosts.
The game originally began as an open-world adventure game titled Pac-Man Ghost Zone, with development headed by director Bill Anderson and designer Scott Rogers. After being unhappy with the game's quality, Namco scrapped the game and fired nearly the entire team aside from Rogers and a few others. The development team focused on making the game live up to the "flavor and feel" of the original Pac-Man, and to successfully bring the character into an enjoyable 3D adventure game. Rogers noted that this proved to be a difficult task, as he claims most fans of the series only had fond memories of the original and Ms. Pac-Man, which put a lot of pressure on the team. Tommy Tallarico composed the game's soundtrack. Rogers originally wanted Pac-Man to have a voice in the game, however Namco was unable to decide on what he should sound like and instead made him speechless, which also saved money on voice acting and animation. Other Namco characters, such as Valkyrie from Valkyrie no Densetsu and Taizo Hori from Dig Dug, were meant to appear in the game but were scrapped later on.
Pac-Man World was a critical and commercial success, selling over 1.25 million copies in North America alone. Reviewers praised the game's originality, colorful graphics, gameplay mechanics and soundtrack, with some comparing it favorably to Namco's own Klonoa: Door to Phantomile. Some reviewers criticized it for being repetitive after a while and its constant use of backtracking. A Game Boy Advance remake was developed by Full Fat and released in 2004, while the PlayStation version was digitally re-released for the PlayStation Network in 2013 under the PSone Classics brand. It was followed by three sequels; Pac-Man World 2 (2002), Pac-Man World 3 (2005), and Pac-Man World Rally (2006). A spiritual successor, Ms. Pac-Man Maze Madness, was released a year later.
Pac-Man World is a 3D platform video game. Controlling Pac-Man, the player must complete each of the game's six worlds to rescue his friends, who are held captive by the ghosts in their homeland of Ghost Island. Worlds consist of five levels each, which are completed by eating all of the pellets to open up an exit door. The final level of each world has a boss that Pac-Man must defeat in order to progress. The player can play whichever world he or she chooses, although two of them are locked until the other four are completed. Worlds also vary in themes, featuring pirate ships, factories, a circus, graveyards and outer space.
Levels contain fruit that can be eaten for bonus points, alongside letters that spell out "PACMAN" — collecting all of these letters in a level will unlock a secret bonus stage. Some levels will have Pac-Man needing to retrieve a key to rescue one of his captive friends, which is required to progress through the game. Galaxian flagships can be found in certain levels that allow Pac-Man to access a 3D maze themed after the world he is in. These mazes play similarly to the original Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man, where the player will need to eat all the dots and avoid the ghosts. Completing these mazes will unlock them for play later from the main menu. Most levels also contain Pac-Man's nemesis, the ghost gang, which can be defeated by consuming large Power Pellets and eating them.
Pac-Man has two main moves, which can be used to defeat enemies and other objects: a butt-bounce that can shatter crates and crush enemies, and a rev-roll that allows him to propel up ramps or activate moving platforms. Pac-Man has a health meter that allows him to sustain three hits before dying — he can find small fractions of health to replenish it in levels, alongside extra lives. The player can find crates scattered around in levels, some of them giving Pac-Man access to new abilities, such as a metal suit allowing him to walk underwater. Pac-Man can also interact with objects such as trampolines, doors and ramps, which can be used to solve puzzles to progress through the level. At the main menu, the player can play a port of the original Pac-Man arcade game, which is the same version found in Namco Museum Vol. 1.
Pac-Man World began as a prototype platform game for the PlayStation, titled Pac-Man Ghost Zone, intended for a fall 1997 release. Headed by Namco Hometek director Bill Anderson, the game followed a teenager being sucked into a Pac-Man arcade cabinet by the ghosts and their leader the Ghostlord, and transforming into Pac-Man. The game was made to break the mold of previous Pac-Man games, such as having a grittier look. Namco's Japanese division put pressure on the project with strict guidelines — Anderson recalls being unable to use a 3D render of the character as a reference, requiring the team to make it themselves. Development was assisted by designer Scott Rogers, with music composed by Tommy Tallarico. When the prototype was presented to Namco, they became unhappy with it and cancelled it for quality reasons, firing the entire development team aside from Rogers, an artist and a programmer. Namco also pushed the release date back to 1998 to allow the game to be reworked. The team decided to revamp the project with a new gameplay engine.
Rogers, who had previously worked on localization for Namco's own Soul Edge and Xevious 3D/G, became the head designer of the project and created many of the enemies and stage layouts. The team set out to retain the "flavor and feel" of the original Pac-Man, and to bring the character into an entertaining platform game. Inspiration was taken from earlier platform games in the series, notably Pac-Land (1984) and Pac-In-Time (1995). During development, Rogers noted that trying to live up to the game's source material put a large amount of pressure on the team, claiming that most players were only familiar with the original Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man with no memories for later games in the series, which left the team having to make the game appeal to players of those two games. The game originally featured cameos from other Namco characters, including Taizo Hori from Dig Dug and Valkyrie from Valkyrie no Densetsu, however these were replaced with members of Pac-Man's family in the final version — a Pooka from Dig Dug was later added into the game due to the character's popularity in Japan. The game's main antagonist, Toc-Man, is named after Namcot, the older Japanese home console division of Namco.
Pac-Man wasn't given a voice in the game due to Namco being unable to decide what he should sound like — some suggested that he sound like an adult male and others like a human child. To save money on voice acting and animation, the character was made to be speechless. Tommy Tallarico was hired back to compose the soundtrack. The game was first shown at the 1997 Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) tradeshow in Atlanta, Georgia, under the working title Pac-Man 3-D. Rogers recalls it being a popular title, saying that many play testers shared with him their memories with Pac-Man series. It was then shown off at E3 1999 under the final title of Pac-Man World: 20th Anniversary. The game was released in North America on October 15, 1999 to coincide with the original release of Pac-Man in the United States. It was later released in Japan on November 2, 1999 and in Europe on February 28, 2000. A Game Boy Advance version was developed by Full Fat and released in 2004. The PlayStation version was digitally re-released on the PlayStation Network in 2013, part of the PSone Classics brand.
Pac-Man World was well-received by critics for its gameplay, soundtrack, graphics and originality, holding an 80% score on aggregator website GameRankings. By 2007, the game had sold over 1.24 million copies in North America alone.
GameSpot compared the game favorably to Namco's own Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, praising its colorful graphics, character animations and controls, concluding that it was "worthy of anyone's library". IGN had a similar response, liking the game's originality, graphics and soundtrack — they especially praised its gameplay for standing out among other platform games, with its puzzle solving and animation style. GameFan praised its gameplay, puzzle-solving mechanics and inclusion of the original Pac-Man, while Official US PlayStation Magazine applauded its gameplay, vibrant graphics, challenge and boss fights, saying that the game's use of nostalgia doesn't feel forced on the player. GameFan also wrote that the game "perfectly mimics those old 8-bit and 16-bit platformers we used to go nuts over", comparing the game's quality favorably to Klonoa: Door to Phantomile. Atari HQ liked how the game tied in a platform game with mechanics from the original, highly praising its gameplay and originality.
Game Revolution was particularly negative towards the game, saying that it simply existed as a marketing ploy to scoop up additional money from the name recognition. They criticized the game for lacking originality, particularly comparing it unfavorably to Donkey Kong Country and Crash Bandicoot, as well as for having an unbalanced difficulty level and "quick, corner-cutting development". They only recommended the game to hardcore Pac-Man fans, although mockingly commented that they "probably bought [it] already."
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