Pac-Man World Rally
Pac-Man comes out of retirement for a competent but forgettable Sunday drive
You know a video game character has faded from relevance when its "intellectual property" spits out a rally racing game in frustration. For every Mario Kart there are piles of pitiful cash-in dreck that go from the development cradle directly to the bargain bin grave.
Pac-Man World Rally, surprisingly enough, bucks this trend to a certain degree, by somehow managing to salvage archaic ideas like dot-munching and power pellets into elements that don't seem entirely out of place. Each character - Ms. Pac-Man, the ghosts, Pac-Devil and several others - drives a different goofy vehicle belonging to one of three weight classes. We don't recall Pac-Man having an ATV, but we're willing to look the other way when he's racing next to Katamari Damacy's tiny Prince.
Apart from a unique retro trip through the Pac-Man maze and a surprising Galaga crossover, the fifteen courses run the usual gamut from haunted house to factory to pirate ship. They're still quite well designed, however, striking a keen balance between challenging power-slide turns and no-brainer straightaway jumps, without ever losing sight of the decidedly younger target audience these characters appeal to most. The eye-catching art direction of the environments, and the high quality of the accompanying music, actually seem somewhat out of place, easily out-pacing the luke-warm expectations such a stale license warrants.