Review by thegame85

"Embrace it, Mario Kart fans..."

Pac Man World Rally, developed by Smart Bomb Interactive and published by Namco-Bandai Games is a semi-budget title with a MSRP of $29.99. It uses 19 blocks of memory and does NOT run in Progressive Scan or Dolby Pro Logic II.

If you are a Nintendo fan and are interested in Pac Man World Rally you probably have one major question in mind; “How does it compare to Mario Kart Double Dash?” I would like to answer that question with a question of my own. How many good kart racers have you played since Double Dash came out on Gamecube? Everyone's answer should be quite similar, and that is there have been slim pickings on Gamecube for kart-style racers. Pac Man World Rally changes that.

First off, there is no story mode in Pac Man World Rally; this is racing pure and simple. When playing for the first time, you are met with the following choices: Race, Hall of Fame, and Options.

In Race mode, you choose the number of players (1-4 supported). You can then choose between Circuit Mode (aka Grand Prix), Quick Race, Time Trial, and Battle. In Circuit Mode you can choose between 3 difficulties: Easy, Medium, and Hard. Two cups are available when you first start out, with more left to be unlocked. Quick Race gives you the choice to play any one race you want…no need to play through a whole Grand Prix. Time Trial is just how it sounds, race the clock for the best score. One of the perks of Battle Mode for me is that you can actually play against computer controlled AI, something Mario Kart has yet to offer. In battle mode you have the following options: Deathmatch, Free for All, Last Kart Driving, Binge, and Classic. There is quite a variety to enjoy here whether by yourself or with three friends.

Hall of Fame is just your typical records section. It holds your best time and which character you used in both Circuit and Time Trial Modes.

Options mode gives you a bevy of choices to customize your gaming experience. You can manually save and load, turn on/off autosave, and adjust the sound settings. There is also a Widescreen mode available, which is a definite plus for all you HDTV owners. Not to mention control settings, camera settings, and gameplay tips.

Gameplay: The controls are very similar to Mario Kart Double Dash. In fact, the only area they differ in is controlling the item boxes. In Pac Man World Rally that action is assigned to the L button. Different racers have different kart attributes in Speed, Control, and Acceleration. Note that there are no alternating karts. Meaning once you choose Ms. Pac Man, you're stuck with her trademark pink car. I should also add that though there is only 1 racer in the kart, each character can hold two items at a time.

All the trademark moves are there: powerslide, jump, and starting line boosts. Not all is the same however. Pac-dots and the Pac-mobile have made their debuts, and believe it or not, they're a success. You collect pac-dots by simply driving over them; doing so will fill your meter up. When it's all full you are prompted to press the Y button to activate the Pac-moble. You will be transformed into the Pac-mobile, which resembles a large Pac-Man head on wheels, and your opposing racers will turn into blue ghosts. Should you run into one they will be gobbled and easily left in your dust. Another new addition is that of the fruit shortcuts. When you spot a door marked with a cherry, grape, or watermelon, you will need to collect the corresponding fruit to gain entrance to that shortcut. Both these new features add to the gameplay, and provide something fresh to a very stale genre.

Sound: The sound in Pac Man World Rally is a mixed bag. The major gripe I have is that each course has its own music to go with its theme, but it's just not loud enough. The music doesn't do a very good job of immersing you into each level. Other than that, the sound effects do their jobs, but if I had to choose a low point for the game, sound would be it.

Graphics: The graphical style is so very similar to Mario Kart Double Dash, but with slightly less detail. The frame rate stays solid; I haven't noticed any real slowdowns or hiccups. I believe most players will become intrigued by the unique level design. Aside from your typical haunted mansion level, ice level, and desert level; there is very much uniqueness to Pac Man Rally that I have yet to find in a Mario Kart game. After finishing the castle level in a come from behind victory, I literally let out a huge breath followed by “wow”…it can be that chaotically fun.

Replay Value: There's a lot to see and do in this game. For each difficulty level there is something new to unlock in each cup. New racers and tracks are waiting to be freed. When you compare the amount of money for the game and how much playtime you can actually get out of it, the results are overwhelmingly positive.

Overall, to answer the question from the beginning of the review, I would say that Pac Man World Rally holds up to Mario Kart Double Dash quite well. I would still give the edge to Mario Kart if given a choice, but that does not mean that we should limit ourselves to one or the other. Namco-Bandai made a very smart decision in releasing this game for $29.99, as I believe it is worth every penny. If you love Mario Kart, or just crazy racing in general, I would give this game a chance. It's got all the meat of a Mario Kart game squeezed in one fun-filled Pac-man style pellet!


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/28/06


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