(GBA / Game Boy Advance)

Pac-Man Collection (GBA / Game Boy Advance)

Game Review

Pac-Man Collection Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Tim Latshaw

A Pac-aged deal

Pac-Man is a creature of classic longevity. We kindly submit as evidence to this claim the fact we’re reviewing a 13-year-old game compilation for a character who was a spry 21 at the time. The question now is how well the four games of Pac-Man Collection have held up since its 2001 GBA release. Do Pac-dots even have expiration dates?

Making a Pac-Man game collection without the original Pac-Man feels like going to an a-ha concert and not hearing “Take On Me”: the whole thing could still be good, but you know you need that one thing to keep from feeling disappointed. Pac-Man Collection knows this, delivering the original game in all its classic dot- and ghost-eating simplicity.

There is no messing with the gameplay here, which is very wise, although two different ways of viewing the mazes are provided. Full screen mode offers the entire maze on one screen and, while a little small, is still sharp and serviceable even on the GamePad. A closer look at the action is provided with a scrolling option that follows Pac-Man as it pans about the maze, but this may bug players who want to keep tabs on the ghosts at all times.

If Pac-Man is the sacred puck, Pac-Man Arrangement shows what can happen when designers get a chance to go nuts with the formula, with joyful results. Arrangement carries the same core maze gameplay, but throws in a handful of crazier elements. Top of the list is a bespectacled fifth ghost, “Kinky,” who is weak and immediately munchable on his own. Let Kinky come in contact with any of the four original ghosts, however, and he will merge with them to form a larger, super-powered ghost; true terror is not known until a bunny-eared Super Pinky starts bounding all over a stage.

Pac-Man gets his own upgrades in Arrangement, including dash arrows, jump pads, and capsules with different effects. Unlike the original Pac-Man, Arrangement also has a set number of stages, ending in a boss battle of sorts — players are given unlimited continues to reach the end, although using one naturally resets one’s score. While more lenient than the other games, Arrangement could easily be considered the highlight of the collection, brimming with fun, personality, and a ‘90s pseudo-3D arcade feel.

Pac-Mania also possesses a 3D-ish look, but has somewhat nicer graphics than Arrangement and plays itself less wackily. Mania grants Pac-Man the ability to jump over ghosts, which likely sounds game-breaking at first. Jumping is trickier than it looks, however, with a timing element involved, and jumping ghosts are introduced later on for some mid air collisions.

While Mania looks dapper and pulls off pseudo-3D well, the closeness of the camera to Pac-Man can be frustrating. A wide scope of the maze isn’t given, which can lead to suddenly being besieged by a pack of ghosts or wandering around like a lame duck while you have no idea where the last two or three dots are to finish the stage.

The final entry, Pac-Attack, ditches the mazes entirely for a straight-up puzzle game that is part Tetris, Puyo Puyo, and chomping. Players rotate and place pieces consisting of blocks, ghosts, and Pac-Man himself. Lines of blocks will disappear on their own, but ghosts can only be removed by setting a Pac-Man up to devour them down a path.

Attack consists of an endless Normal Mode and a 100-stage Puzzle Mode where stages need to be cleared of ghosts in a set number of Pacs. It’s a unique puzzler concept in its own right and can be great for short bursts, even if the overall presentation feels like you’re playing it in an alley behind a honky-tonk bar.

The treatment of all four titles as a compilation is considerate. Pressing Start on the title screen of each game will provide a menu to view tips and adjust that game’s settings, including numbers of lives and bonuses. Some limitations of the original GBA title do still haunt this version, though. The sound is nothing special, although a few catchy tracks can be found, and there are no high score boards as there was never a battery to save scores to begin with. At least the very top scores can be saved now via the Virtual Console’s restore points and shared on Miiverse.


Time has tarnished Pac-Man Collection a little, some of its games more than others. It’s hard to detract from the original Pac-Man, of course, and Pac-Man Arrangement is just about worth the price of admission alone. On the other hand, while Pac-Attack is not a very attractive-looking game and the 3D amazement of Pac-Mania has long since worn off, each still contains elements that could easily hook some who fiddle with them. In the wider span of things, Pac-Man Collection may not feature all the choice cuts of Pac-Man’s history, but it still does a good job of showing why he’s timeless.

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User Comments (34)



Troggy said:

I'd say this is one of my favourite virtual console games of all time. Pac-Attack and Arrangement are both easily worth the price alone.



0utburst said:

LOL verry pun-ny.

I'm glad I didn't buy the pacman NES and bought this instead. Now I'm not sure if I'm gonna get PacLand.



NintyMan said:

I played this a lot as a kid. Arrangement is definitely the best of the bunch, and Pac-Mania isn't bad as well. Whoever likes Pac-Man and hasn't played this, give it a try if you have the money.



wayneyrob22 said:

i used to play pac land in arcades that side scrolling platform type game, also that gamecube gameboy advance link up what you get with r racing, good idea but expencive at the time and of course the origional, not a massive pac man fan but i guess there are many out there.



MrWalkieTalkie said:

Bought it cause it was on sale and I had a huge need to play Pac-Man after all the Smash Bros. news lately!



XCWarrior said:

Looked up super old reviews and picked this up on the final day of the sale Sunday. Haven't tried it out yet, but looking forward to it!



HandheldGuru97 said:

I still have this cart on my GBA, and I play it pretty frequently despite it being one of the first Gameboy games I got 10 years ago!!!!! A great Pac collection over all, hate that it doesn't save high scores, but now that it is a VC game it probably works a bit better. If anyone is on the fence, my advice is give it a try if you are looking for some Pac-man on the U!!!!!!!!!!



Tsusasi said:

Baku Baku Animal for the Saturn (and other SEGA systems) is a good comparison for Pac-Attack too. I enjoyed the SNES Pac-Attack.



JJtheTexan said:

I never played this on Game Boy Advance and only downloaded the Wii U port a few days ago, and so far I really like it! It's almost a suitable consolation prize for the cancellation of Pac-Man Museum. Almost.



PAppleyard said:

I want Pacman museum. This is not the version I was hoping for! I may have to buy it from Steam instead.



Yosher said:

I downloaded this, just because I lacked a real Pac-Man game in my collection (for shame!).



sleepinglion said:

I grabbed this the day it released for the the original Pac-Man alone! With the sale it was STILL cheaper than the NES stand-alone VC release.



Philip_J_Reed said:

Great review, Tim. I bought it because I kept hearing praise for Pac-Man Arrangement, and as a huge Pac-Man fan I couldn't let the chance to play it pass me by.

...and I love it. The other modes are fun, too, but I've barely touched them. Arrangement is way more fun than it has any right to be.



Collinhall said:

If this were for the 3DS I would pick this up. The idea of playing GBA games on the Wii U is wholly unappealing to me.



joey302 said:

Let's hope GBA namco museum is right around the corner cause ms pac man in that collection!! Dig dug, galaxian & galaga doesn't hurt either!!



pukka-pie said:

This game just deletes high scores. So what is the point? Why even bother play it? Or am I expected to write the high scores down??



pukka-pie said:

@Collinhall to be fair though the original version of PacMan on here is identical to any other console version, so if you fancy pacman on your WiiU you should overlook the fact that this particular version is a GBA game.



grumblegrumble said:

Perfect review! I purchased this game for my GameBoy Advance way back when it first came out.. I remember shelling out like $30-40 for it! lol And back then, it got a 10 in my book! (This was/is on sale at the moment in the shop, for around $5, totally worth it!) But, as times progress and technology advances, I understand your 7/10 review. I totally agree with it, and I give this a huge thumbs up for value! (One complaint: On the Wii U screen (flat screen TV) some of the text and graphics come across as extra blocky or splotchy. Only to be expected. But, otherwise, perfect vintage release!



grumblegrumble said:

@joey302 Exactly. I would love Namco Collection for Wii U, with updated graphics and extra modes. I think it was cancelled a few months back, but... please bring it on!



FabioSMASH said:

Funny how this collection with the arcade version of Pac-Man is less expensive in the eShop than Nintendo's inferior NES port of Pac-Man.



grumblegrumble said:

@joey302 That's awesome! I'll totally purchase that, too. I love all the old skool Namco games. Pac Man is my ultimate favorite, followed by Dig Dug and then Mrs. Pac Man



unrandomsam said:

How does it compare to Championship Edition DX+ (Not sure I need anything else).

Galaga '88 / Dragon Spirit or lots of others that were in the JPN VC Arcade I might go for.

(I have played rolling thunder a few times with the one go a day thing on the ipad Namco Arcade. Supports physical controls so when the Hori Controller comes out I will use that)



AltonLove said:

I'll have to get this so I can have a Pac-Man game on Wii U, since I hardly use my PS3 anymore, which means I hardly play Championship Edition DX+, which I consider a 10/10 masterpiece. Namco is the master of arcade gaming, then and now. Can't wait to see how this stacks up to CEDX+.



FabioSMASH said:

@grumblegrumble Yes; both quite fun. Just thought it was funny how the less expensive title has more content.

BTW, I'm a HUGE Pac-Man fan and have purchased more versions of that game than I can remember. That said, my current favorite version of PM is Namco's iPhone app. Not only is it arcade perfect, but it also has the option to play new mazes done in the exact same art style and theme as the original, which is quite novel, as it's something I've never seen before.



GoPirate said:

Best things I enjoyed in the collection is pac attack, original and arrangement. That's very nostalgic about pac man games.



DinoFett said:

Just got this software for the Wii U. Adding it to the collection of Pac Man games

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