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GC

North America

Pac-Man World Rally

by Aaron Kaluszka - October 1, 2006, 2:41 pm PDT
Total comments: 11

6.5

Just another franchise kart game.

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Smart Bomb Interactive must have been trying very hard to flatter Nintendo with Pac-Man World Rally. The game certainly does have its moments, but compared to Mario Kart, it falls short.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the gameplay; it’s just that if you go to such measures to copy somebody else’s game, I expect it to at least be on par with the copied game. The biggest problem is that the tracks just feel too cramped for a kart game. Not all of the stages suffer from this, but many do. In addition, the AI just isn’t very good. I didn’t find much of a difference between the Normal and Hard difficulties. Without a challenge, racing becomes more of an unlocking chore than anything. Besides the standard grand prix and time trial modes, the game includes several types of battle including deathmatches and collect-a-thons, which can provide a diversion.

Control should be familiar to anybody that’s ever played a Mario Kart game. Power slides and turbo starts are even included and work just like Mario Kart, except power slides can be charged up several more levels. Pac-Man World Rally was passed off as the fastest kart game ever. However, in actuality it often feels like it’s just plodding along. Some tracks do feel faster, but they are nowhere near the likes of games like F-Zero GX. In addition, there are load times, something I’m not used to in GameCube games. While not extremely long, they really do knock the wind out of the action.

I can’t overemphasize just how much Pac-Man World Rally “borrows" from Mario Kart. You don’t often see rip-offs this blatant from major publishers. The game even has penguins that slide across ice on their bellies. Almost all of the regular attack items work the same as in Mario Kart, including running/flying bomb equivalents to all three (red, green, blue) shell types with corresponding colors working exactly like their Mario Kart counterparts, aside from appearance. Attack items are found in boxes on the track and other familiar powers such as lightning, speed boosts, and fake boxes are also included. Up to three items can be stored at a time.

The new features that were added to Pac-Man World Rally compared to Mario Kart are mostly superfluous. Tiny Guardian Pac-Angels and Devils can be activated, but there really isn’t a good reason to use them. Fruit can be collected to open shortcuts on the track, not that they’re really needed.

One interesting feature is the ability to turn into a Pac-Mobile. Eating enough dots fills up a meter, and the Pac-Mobile power may be activated once the meter is full. This power turns your character and vehicle into a munching Pac-Man on wheels and all opponents turn into blue ghosts on unicycles. For a limited amount of time, the Pac-Mobile can eat the other drivers just like in the original Pac-Man arcade game. While the power isn’t that useful in itself, part of the challenge of the game is to see how many ghosts can be eaten – this is required to unlock everything in the game.

I can tell the developers must have had fun developing the game – the atmosphere is there. The game is chock full of classic and modern Namco characters and references including Galaga, Dig-Dug, and even Katamari Damacy, for the first time on a Nintendo console. There are four standard cups with fifteen tracks overall. A fifth cup runs players through single lap runs of all fifteen tracks. The tracks feature a wide variety of settings from standard outdoor racing and pirate ships to haunted mansions and a setting in space. Some of the arcade- themed tracks are neat, albeit tedious, such as driving around a Pac-Man maze. The funhouse track is like Rainbow Road on acid, with crazy multi-level racing and teleportation.

If you’re looking for a great kart game, stick with Mario Kart. If you really have the urge to play a kart game featuring Namco characters, then by all means, pick up Pac-Man World Rally.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
8.5 7 9 6.5 6 6.5
Graphics
8.5

The graphics are quite nice, very colorful and polished, especially considering it is a multiplatform title. I did notice some framerate and tearing problems, though nothing too major.

Sound
7

The music is very good if you’re into remixes of classic Namco games. Some of the music is really over the top for a kart game. I never expected epic Galaga music while driving through a castle, but it is still enjoyable. Tommy Tallarico was really in his element here. However, the sound effects and particularly the default sound mixing are terrible. Luckily, you can change volume levels.

Control
9

Control is very good, something critical in kart games. I was worried after playing the E3 demo, but the developers seem to have done a great job tightening up controls. The only downside is that there are too many types of power-ups, which can be confusing to activate.

Gameplay
6.5

Pac-Man World Rally is not a bad kart game. It’s just not up to par with the likes of Mario Kart. Single and multiplayer modes give some variety.

Lastability
6

Sure, racing games are usually bastions of replay, and this one does include several multiplayer games. However, with similar yet better games out there, replay isn’t very compelling.

Final
6.5

Pac-Man World Rally tries to outdo Mario Kart and fails. Honestly though, it wasn’t a bad attempt, and its budget price does make an impulse buy reasonable.

Summary

Pros
  • Namco fans will enjoy the little details.
  • Solid kart racing action.
Cons
  • Low challenge.
  • Uninspired.
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

wanderingOctober 01, 2006

Quote

Eating enough dots fills up a meter, and the Pac-Mobile power may be activated once the meter is full. This power turns your character and vehicle into a munching Pac-Man on wheels and all opponents turn into blue ghosts on unicycles. For a limited amount of time, the Pac-Mobile can eat the other drivers just like in the original Pac-Man arcade game.


Quote

I can tell the developers must have had fun developing the game – the atmosphere is there. The game is chock full of classic and modern Namco characters and references including Galaga, Dig-Dug, and even Katamari Damacy, for the first time on a Nintendo console.


Quote

The funhouse track is like Rainbow Road on acid


Is it bad that I kind of want this now?

Naw, it's special, in its own way.

UltimatePartyBearOctober 02, 2006

Which Mario Kart would you say this game is more like? Double Dash or 64?

Double Dash... minus the Double part...

ZiebornOctober 02, 2006

I could not agree less with this review. This is basically the only non "Mario Kart" Kart game that feels like the kind of fun that type of game should be. Diddy Kong was alright, but the weird level selection and exploration stuff got old fast, Crash Bandicot racing games all look like mud, and outside of that most any other "Kart" games have been even worse. This one feels whimsical and cartoony, and actually makes good use of the source material. The characters all have distinct animations, the levels are full of cool little pac related details, and with the exception of the classic maze level, all the tracks are very fun. Also, the real meat of this game is in the battle mode. Put the computer on "difficult" and give it a whirl. It quickly becomes apparent where the main fun in this game is to be had anyway. Outside of the computer being easy, I really don't see a problem with this game.

Seriously though, boot up the battle mode and see if you don't have a lot of fun.

Nick DiMolaNick DiMola, Staff AlumnusOctober 02, 2006

"Diddy Kong was alright, but the weird level selection and exploration stuff got old fast"

Ouch dude. I would say the only game that even holds a candle to the awesomeness of DKR was MK DS.

I was looking forward to this game considering Namco did the MK arcade game. The stuff wandering pointed out actually are the same things that made me want the game too. I guess I'll wait until it hits the bargain bin and then check it out. Honestly Double Dash minus the double part doesn't really seem too bad to me.

ZiebornOctober 02, 2006

But it's already in the bargain bin. It's a console game going for the price of the cheap DS games. The new Nintendo games go for something like $50+ here in Canada, while this one is $34. It's not a big plunge to take. I suggest renting it, playing some battle mode, and then picking it up if you like it.

Zieborn, most of the points you made I agree with. I think I made it very clear that the game was very much like Mario Kart except with tons of fun Namco references. I didn't compare it directly to any of the other kart games because I haven't played them (except DKR). My point was simply that Mario Kart is the better game. Once you factor in the $30 release price, it makes it a good value.

ZiebornOctober 03, 2006

I guess it's just the score I disagree with. That and the fact that I don't see how the pac angels and devils have few uses. The funhouse track makes it easy to build them up, and there's on part where flame in that level basically requires that you use them to get a good time through. Also, in tocman's factory you can really breeze through the chopping axes part by using the shield. Also, when an enemy sends one of the blue bombs after you, hitting the shield is certainly helpful. It's not superfluos at all. It's like dragging a banana to protect from red shells in Mario Kart. Having defensive options is a good idea. Also, although the fruit short cuts are unnecssary in single player mode, wouldn't it make a big difference in multiplayer, where the difficulty depends on the ability of your friends. As well, the fruit short cuts are a great idea and would be really helpful against tougher AI. I hope there's a sequel with online play and tougher AI, which I imagine would make things like defensive shields and hidden shortcuts seem far from superfluous. I'm hoping this is only the first shot for this series, as only poor enemy difficulty is holding it back right now.

Bartman3010October 03, 2006

The actual Pac-Man game is unique on its own, tagging Pac-Man in this racing game is just a downright insult, and an obvious cash-in for Namco. Think about it (Although I'm sure this point has been made already) they should've concentrated on trying to differentiate the game from Mario Kart in order to garner any kind of success, or even a unique game more people would've cared about. Pac-Man is about eating dots. Hes not supposed to butt-stomp, spin dash, punch, kick, uppercut or get attacked by Dig Dug characters. But these western developers apparently think this is the future for Pac-Man; to copy other, more successful mascots in order to break the ice of what games come out of Namco these days.

I guess I found the extra "features" more distracting and confusing than anything else. Having to keep track of multiple meters to know when to activate your different items isn't the best idea for a game like this. If the game was harder and you actually had to use those items to ensure victory, things might be different.

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Genre Racing
Developer Namco
Players1 - 4

Worldwide Releases

na: Pac-Man World Rally
Release Aug 22, 2006
PublisherNamco
RatingEveryone

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