Pac-Pix E3 2004 Preshow Impressions

Namco and Pac-Man will be testing your drawing skills on the Nintendo DS. Sound strange? Read on.

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One of the games on display at E3 for Nintendo's DS hardware is Pac-Pix from Namco. As you'd expect from the title, the game stars the granddaddy of video game icons, Pac-Man. However, this time out the voracious yellow mascot is making his most unique appearance yet. The game's core mechanics still revolve around eating, but that's where the similarity to any of Pac-Man's previous appearances ends.

Pac-Pix puts you in control of Pac-Man in a way that's never been done before. You'll create and guide Pac-Man to eat by drawing on the DS' touch screen. The game's mechanics are simple: You'll eat as many ghosts as you can before time runs out. You'll start by drawing Pac-Man on the touch screen. If you manage to draw him properly, a yellow outline of his silhouette appears and heads out to eat whatever's in its path. Pac-Man's diet in Pac-Pix is pretty deficient in both dots and power pellets, but it's more ghost-centric than in previous outings.

The playfield is a plain, white screen with a few ghosts on it. Once you've drawn your Pac-Man, the ghosts react as if you've eaten a power pellet and will consequently turn their distinctive, cowardly blue color. You'll draw lines in front of him to guide him to his meals. Once you've cleared a screen and Pac-Man has headed off to one of the sides, new ghosts will appear, and you'll have to repeat the process. Once you get the hang of it, you can get pretty daring and can try drawing two Pac-Men at once, juggling both to speed up your ghostbusting. The only limit on your skills is your ink supply, which is replenished by eating ghosts.

The graphics in the demo of the game we played featured a sketchy, hand-drawn style that works with the theme perfectly. Little touches, such as the new ghosts that are drawn in as you come into a new area, are subtle but nice. As far as sound effects go, the game relies on the classics for its sounds and ably re-creates them on the DS hardware.

From what we tried, Pac-Pix is a unique game that marries old-school gameplay with some newfangled technology. While no official word on when it will come out or what else the game will offer is currently available, rest assured that this information will be forthcoming. Look for more on the game from the E3 show floor and in the coming months.

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