Pac-Man is back at it again on the Nintendo DS and this time he has been turned into a ball and has to roll around the stages in Namco’s Pac’N Roll. The story goes that when Pac-Man was a boy one summer he visited the Great Ghost Hunter, Pac-Master. During his stay Pac-Master was defeated by a Rock & Rollin’ ghost from outer space named Golvis. All of the Pac-People could not stand up to him and they all ended up being turned into spheres, except for Pac-Man. This is where your adventure begins, you are Pac-Man and your goal in Pac’N Roll is to roll around the stages as Pac-Man trying to find a way to defeat Golvis and save everyone in Pac-Land.When you first put Pac’N Roll in your Nintendo DS and begin playing you will probably be immediately reminded of games like Marble Madness and Super Monkey Ball. Both of these games were a lot of fun and I am happy to report that Pac’N Roll follows suite. When Nintendo revealed the Nintendo DS they kept telling us it would lead to new and innovative games. Up until now some of the Nintendo DS games have used the touch screen more as a novelty than an actual way of controlling the full game. I am happy to see more games now using the touch screen for full game control or for more than just mini game diversions. In Pac’N Roll you will use the touch screen exclusively for controlling Pac-Man except for using the digital pad for controlling the camera angle and Pac-Man in the old-school 2D Pac-Man arcade game you can unlock.
The touch screen controls work really well. You slide the stylus across the Pac-Man in the bottom screen as you make him navigate the level on the top screen. Sliding the stylus faster makes Pac-Man go faster and holding the stylus on him makes him stop. If you run into a ghost you have to tap the ghost that appears on the bottom screen to shake them off of Pac-Man before his health runs down to zero. You can also pick up three power-ups that turn Pac-Man into a knight, give him wings or change him back to normal. The knight power-up makes him slower, but he is able to break through steel boxes and sink to the bottom of the water areas. The winged Pac-Man can glide in the air and slide over water, but is easily blown away by the wind. The last power-up turns Pac-Man back into his normal form which is the fastest and has the best stopping ability. Sliding the stylus fast over Pac-Man in any of these forms and then stopping in the outer edge of the screen in the burst zone makes Pac-Man blast forward with a burst of speed. Getting Pac-Man to burst didn’t work every time for me, but I also have a screen protector on my bottom screen, so maybe that was part of the problem. Either way, it works most of the time and doesn’t cause too much harm if it doesn’t work from time-to-time.
The only other problem I have with the controls is more a problem with the camera angle. A few stages have you bounce from platform to platform and sometimes it is very hard to judge where to land even after rotating the camera angle with the digital pad. This is not that big of a deal and doesn’t take away from the game, but you may die a few times more than you would like because you can’t judge the landing. Pac’N Roll’s graphics besides the camera angle problem are good. They may not be the most detailed but they are bright and colorful and fit well with the theme of the game. I don’t think having them more detailed would’ve made the game any better.
Pac’N Roll’s music and sound effects are also well done and fit well with the Pac-Man theme. You will hear the standard Pac-Man eating dots and ghosts sound effects on top of birds chirping, wind blowing, water flowing and splashing, and more. The music is upbeat and all digitally synthesized and is what you would expect in a Pac-Man game. All-in-all the music and sound effects in Pac-Man are what I expected and were enjoyable throughout the game.
The modes of play are limited to Story, Time Attack, and Challenge in Pac’N Roll for Nintendo DS. Story mode has you following the story mentioned above as you try to defeat Golvis and save all of Pac-Land. Time Attack mode is the same as other games with this feature; you need to try to get through the level by passing checkpoints as fast as possible. Challenge mode is the last choice and it contains different challenges for each level that you need to complete. Some of the challenges include eating or not eating a specified number of Pac-Dots or ghosts, clearing the stage in a certain amount of time, etc. These challenges add to the length of the game that is actually a decent length to begin with.
I was pleasantly surprised when I put Pac’N Roll into my Nintendo DS. I didn’t really know what to expect, but after playing through its levels and enjoying the new challenges brought to the table via the touch screen controls, I am happy to report that it is one of the better games for the Nintendo DS. The game is a decent length and with the extra challenge mode it will keep you coming back for more. The storyline might be a little goofy, but it helps move along the game and the variety of levels and challenges keep it entertaining. If you are looking for a game that takes full advantage of the Nintendo DS’s touch screen and is actually fun and challenging then you should check out Pac’N Roll from Namco.
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