Found in a block of cheese in Dragon Age, even modern gamers are no strangers to the image of Pac-Man.
For the 30th anniversary of his creation, Toru Iwatani (the creator of the original Pac-Man) decided that it's time for the old yellow arcade chomper to make a comeback. This title is a PSN Mini, and does a great job of reproducing the original gameplay, with just enough tweaks to keep things fresh.
If you've somehow managed not to hear about Pac-Man, I'm impressed and horrified at the same time. But to clarify, you're the yellow circle with a dot for an eye and a wedge-shaped cut-out mouth. You eat dots for points, and avoid ghosts. Power pellets (large dots) let you eat the ghosts for extra points. Getting caught by a ghost without a power pellet makes Pac-Man turn inside out, and you lose a life. Running out of time also turns you inside out, and ends the game, just like when you run out of lives.
Championship Edition has retained the blocky graphics, the painful-but-catchy music, and the sound effects of the original. There's also the same sense that you'll never truly "win" - you get the same "game over" message whether you run out of time or lives, and the dots just keep coming back when you eat them. Clear one side of the maze, and it'll spawn a fruit pickup on the other side. Collecting this gives you bonus points, and refills the side which you cleared. The longer you survive, the faster everything becomes, and the more points each dot is worth.
I'm no high-score junkie, but, like the original, this game is far more addictive than any sensible analysis would expect. You're, well, Pac-Man. An old washing-powder mascot shouldn't be so much fun as a main character. Your enemies are the four ghosts, Inky, Blinky, Pinky and... Clyde. Pinky's the one to watch out for, because unlike the others, he'll try to cut you off - moving to where you're heading, instead of where you've been. With the game (and the music) speeding up the longer you stay alive, the challenge of dodging all the ghosts becomes greater, and makes survival more of a priority than those precious dots, even with bonus lives every 20,000 points.
Of course, Pac-Man isn't totally defenceless - if he can get to a power pellet, he has a few seconds in which he's able to eat the ghosts - who turn blue, slow down significantly, and try to retreat from him. Eating ghosts in quick succession earns escalating points; eating several then another pellet, and continuing to eat them without pause, earns even more. When ghosts are eaten, their eyes remain, rushing back to the centre of the maze, which is supposedly their home or something (no, this game has never made sense). Even if the other ghosts are still affected by the power pellet, a resurrected ghost will still be inedible, and ready to turn you inside out if you run into it.
There are various modes with different mazes and gameplay in Championship Edition, including a super-speed mode, which is even more chaotic than usual. My personal favourite is a darkened maze where you can't see the walls until you're right next to them, leaving only the dots to show you the path from a distance, and hiding the trail after you eat them. The basic "championship mode" is 5 minutes, as is one of the "extra" modes, the remaining four are 10 minutes each. It's not easy to make a game last the whole five minutes, let alone 10, but the addiction is likely to hold many players until they do.
Although it has retro graphics and sounds, there are concessions to modernity. The edges of the maze, as well as the outlines of the ghosts and Pac-Man, have subtly rounded corners and a varicoloured neon effect which looks pretty good, even though those outlines are wide blocks of colour - it looks like a reproduction of the game in neon lights, which emphasises "newness" while retaining the retro feel. The music, still the same familiar tunes, is clearly high-quality synth as well, rather than the original's squealing speakers. It's still uncomfortable at even a medium volume, though.
The different modes have enough variety to add a measure of replay value, with minor changes in the gameplay and some new mazes to chomp your way through. As a Mini, this game easily does all it sets out to do, providing addictive retro gameplay at a reasonable price. If you find the original Pac-Man a little too retro, though, this game doesn't do much to change the formula.