Pac-Man: Championship Edition (iPhone) review

I love Pac-Man: Championship Edition. I (mainly) love my iPhone. Surely the two should be a marriage made in heaven?

As soon as the game was launched earlier today I bought it. It helped that the game was being sold at a reduced price initially, but I would’ve just handed over a couple of quid to Namco regardless to try and sway them towards releasing a version of this game for the Sony PSP (ideal platform) or Nintendo DS. This game has so far only been released on Xbox Live Arcade, which is criminal considering how great it is. I never really liked or got Pac-Man before this game, and judging by the looks I get from friends when I recommend it I guess I’m not alone.

Anyway, back to the review. The port is a good one overall, but there are “buts”. It requires you restart your iPhone seemingly as it constantly crashed for me until I did so. There are a few issues with it regarding freezing very occasionally for a tiny amount of time (on my 3G; might be fine on a 3GS), but overall graphically it’s a good port. However, the game isn’t sold as a complete entity as Namco try to intially sell the other levels as DLC. IGN picked up on this and gave Namco a hard time over it so I’m not going to retread that ground again. The biggest problem I have with the game isn’t down to Namco; it’s the lack of controls on the iPhone. Considering the killing Apple is making through its App Store, surely the next iPhone has to come with physical buttons (or some sort of add-on to the device)?

Controlling Pac-Man via the iPhone’s screen is frustrating. Once Pac-Man picks up any sort of speed the game gets increasingly less responsive to quick touch inputs, so basically you’re left staring into a lovely-looking window of what could be (if only this was ported to a device with decent physical controls).

I said above that the Sony PSP would make the ideal home for this game. The widescreen format, bright glossy screen, along with the 4-way control pad could potentially trump the Xbox version (due to the crappy d-pad on that system’s controller).

Please Namco, make it happen.

Score: 6.5/10 (due to the lack of decent controls)