Pac Man Wiision

[Originally posted on 1Up.com]

wacka wacka wacka

Reading Edge magazine's The Best 100 Videogames the other day I came across, what in my mind, is the most innovative and ground-breaking title released for the Game Cube. A game I had to purchase a horrendous sub-par title to attain, but considering all the fun that has been had this feels like a small sum to pay. The game is Pac Man Vs, a game that to this day has not been out-done when it comes to inter-platform-gaming which it provided between the GBA and the Cube. For anyone unfamiliar with this title read up on it at here then come right back, 'k?

So, all up to speed? Good, let's move on.

So I've been wanting to play some Pac Man Vs. for a while now, and while my Wii will happily gobble up the disc, I still need to hook up three GC-controllers and a GBA... I've got two WaveBirds charged-up and ready to rumble (well... they don't actually rumble, but... oh shut up!) however to get a third GC-controller I would have to take one back from my sister who has borrowed by GameCube. Lastly, and more importantly, I need to get back my GBA which I lent to a friend several years ago, right about the time of the DS was release I believe... Then there's the fact that I'll have those cables all over the place and the person playing Pac Man will have to sit pretty close to the system and well - that more or less means everyone else has to as well - because the roles will be changed through out the play session....

So what the hell do I want do you ask? Well. I want a Wii-make *cringe* of Pac Man Vs... and since the GBA naturally could be replaced by the DS... how about Pac Man WiiDS... no? Ok I'll leave the naming to the fine folks and NamcoBandai and Nintendo.

Now why would an updated version of Pac Man Vs be a good idea, besides satiating my urge for wireless-play? Well:

  • Everyone and their mother (quite literally) has a DS

  • Everyone and their mother (quite literally) wants a Wii

  • Everyone and their mother (quite... you get the point) recognizes Pac Man - it's the worlds most iconic videogame character.

  • Everyone and their mother have\can play Pac Man. It has universal appeal, transcending gender as well as gaming experience level.

Yes, I know it's coming to the DS in the Namco Museum compilation, and I have no doubt that will be good fun. But this game was designed to be played on a couch and personally I have no wish to try and rally three friends that have their own DS:s to get a game going, I want to be able to invite some (any) friends over, or bring my Wii and DS to work and not have to rely on their being other gamers with the correct hardware involved (there aren't).

The fact that Vs didn't get a very wide spread among gamers and that it is often overlooked as one of the greater innovations in gaming history should not deter the big N:s from giving it another go though. Vs was a difficult product to sell, it required the infamous Nintendo GameCube Game Boy Advance Cable (is that really the best name they could come up with?) which was of little other use - sure Crystal Chronicles and Four Swords where good games, but really, the same issue arose there: you needed four NGCGBAC cables and four GBA to play them - pretty much every other title that had any GC to GBA connectivity simply used it for novelties at best, and at worse forced you to buy two versions of the same game just to get some throw-away bonus content. But the problems didn't end there, even though Pac Man Vs was great, it was a pretty simple game that could hardly be sold at full price, and selling it for the $10 that you could expect someone to pay for it was probably not economically viable (considering production & distribution costs).

So this brings me to my final and maybe most important reasons for why this would be perfect as a Wii title. I've already mentioned that is should utilize the DS instead of the GBA which has the obvious benefits of an additional screen that could be used to either extend the playing field, or to move stats away from it, more importantly though it would be able to wirelessly connect to the Wii - a feature that we have been promised but that we have seen next to nothing of. This could be the perfect launch title for it, paving the way for a feature that everyone loved but that was a logistic nightmare when it was introduced before it's time in the last generation - this feature is also in the wings for the PS3-PSP combo... what's to say games can't be developed for both by third parties ey?

And finally, we have distribution.... you guessed it, Wii Ware (a.k.a. Wii Software to us Euros). Can you imagine a better launch-title for the service? Because I can't. Introducing both these two features - the DS to Wii connectivity and Wii Ware using gaming's #1 mascot (sorry Mario, you can still be the commentator).

But wait there's more.

I've been playing Super Paper Mario a fair amount recently, and the idea of a Paper Mario-style interpretation of Pac Man came to me, which I believe would actually be a pretty good idea. Considering the 2D-3D nature of Pac Man VS got me thinking about how the Super Paper Mario mechanics could be used in Pac Man. Bare with me as I haven't given this enough thought to actually device a full game - but doesn't Pac Man feel like a superb property to make a "Paper"-version of? Some ideas:

  • Pac Man would look great with the Paper Mario aesthetics, I mean it's already pretty close.

  • Pac Man could, just like Mario, switch to 3D: This could be an ability attained by eating Power Pellets, or maybe just by the timer method used in SPM; Pac Man could use this ability to attack the ghosts from the "side", or maybe just for escape / short-cuts.

  • The levels could be constructed of hollowed-out cubes where Pac Man navigates freely within the space (dimensionally that is - walls should of course still hinder him), while the ghosts move on 2D-planes. Perhaps there is a method by which the ghosts can change planes or maybe there are different ghosts on different planes, totally oblivious to each other.

That's it for now, what do you think?

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