Well, time for a drink.
With how many times I've played Pac-Man and Galaga, I'm almost ready to make it a drinking game. I haven't figured out the details yet, but there should be something like "a shot for every ghost eaten" or "every Challenge stage reached needs to be followed by the chugging of a beer before the next stage". It would bring some new life to the franchises Namco Bandai has been re-releasing over and over again without much adjustment. Six games are here – two new, two old, and two released on consoles about three years ago. So there has to be a "good" drinking game in there somewhere that can leave a person bombed but still breathing at the end.
The two new games here are what the whole fuss of a new cart is about. Let's start with… Galaga 3D Impact. Except for the actual taking of pictures and slapping them onto balls, it's Face Raiders move the 3DS around like a crazy person, lock yourself on the enemy of your choice, and shoot it. Sure, you have a few different guns to choose from (to be honest, I just kept using the basic blaster), but it really, really is the exact same game (with less personality than shooting a face you recognize).
The 3D effect isn't terrible, save for the tutorial bits which cuts out the 3D entirely. You read that right: In a fit of rage, whoever worked on the tutorial thought it would be a good idea to remove the player completely from the 3D effect, flash words on the screen, then go right back in. It's single-handedly the most painful effect I've ever experienced on the 3DS. That alone makes me not want to play Galaga 3D Impact ever again, but after that I already have this game built into my system… and it was free.
Then there's Pac-Man Tilt, another game on this 3DS collection which has no 3D whatsoever. And after playing the game, I can see just how half-cocked the whole thing is. Every environment looks identical, and every stage feels open and empty without any excitement or intensity. Platforming is slippery and feels like it wants to be a Sonic game, complete with Casino Zone-ish flippers and bumpers, and the tilting mechanic is utilized in only the most basic of ways. Tilt and move in a certain direction and Pac-Man might curl into a ball (sound familiar?) to move faster, it can turn certain platforms in the environment a tad, and roll the few balls and enemies according to the incline. The whole package feels undercooked and underdeveloped, and could have used a few more gimmicks or enemies or even just a change in music.
But there are four other games included here – Pac-Man, Pac-Man Championship Edition, Galaga, and Galaga Legions – and they're all exactly what you've played before. Every game plays on the top screen, and top screen only, so if you remember playing any of these on a screen that's big enough to see, you'll probably have problems straining to see super-small bullets and turn on a dime. Everything is scrunched together, which makes everything harder to play. Pac-Man with the slick-stick is all right, but when the speed starts picking up, it's simply not precise enough. While you can play with the cross pad, it's hard to because of… you know, having normal-sized hands, and it being where the base of your thumb would normally be.
Oh, and there's one more thing on this cart: a promotional video telling the story of how Pac-Man got his start, and this is in 3D. With the slider up, it's hard to tell it's in 3D at all, but that's no matter… the "movie" isn't interesting. It's not even funny. It might be the single most bland Saturday morning-ish cartoon I've ever seen. So essentially, I started the game, fiddled with the 3D, watched the credits, sighed, and realized that I'll never get those few minutes of my life back.
All of those little issues pile up. It's almost as if everything I was hoping for in this release was written down just to be ignored. I would love to see Galaga and Pac-Man stretched to fill both screens somehow (Galaga especially so, since Space Invaders Extreme filled it out so well), but there are few options to change anything at all. The presentation is simple, and both the stand-up and sit-down cabinets are available to look at before play (though you might never be able to tell when the 3D is on), but while the small touches in appearance are nice, they can't counteract all of the little annoyances.
One thing done right is the online leaderboards, so you can see just how
well badly you fare against the rest of the world. Even then, it's only worth picking up if you need some portable Pac-Man Championship or Legions… I'm assuming everyone has access to the original games at this point.
Now, which version of Pac-Man do I want to play next? I only have it for iPhone, Game Boy, DS, 3DS, Neo-Geo Pocket Color…