I think I was supposed to get excited about playing Pac-Man Championship Edition and a new 3D first-person version of Galaga when I played the anthology game Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions on the Nintendo 3DS at a Namco press event earlier this week.
I do appreciate the greatness of Pac-Man CE on any platform where it appears. I'm also up for wacky Galaga experiments. But the Dimensions feature that got me the most excited this week was plain, ordinary Pac-Man. I'd never played the classic in 3D before, and I'd underestimated the effect of 3D on the game.
You might wonder what meaningful impact 3D could have on Pac-Man, especially if you think of 3D as something that pops out at you rather, as is the case in most 3DS games, as 3D that adds visual depth. I can't show you the 3D effect, not unless you can see into my mind right now. (Please don't peek.) I can try to explain it to you.
Look at the screenshot atop this story. That's how Pac-Man can look in this 3DS game. It's set as if it is in an arcade cabinet. The 3D effect, when activated on the 3DS for this game, pushes the game's graphics beneath the "glass" of the arcade cabinet. The borders of the image stay on the surface level. The effect mimics the experience of looking at an actual arcade machine, where the game action occurs on a monitor that is receded from the glass and plastic shell of the arcade cabinet. I felt, while playing the game on the 3DS, that if I touched the 3DS screen, my finger would still be a couple of inches away from touching the game of Pac-Man.
The 3DS can produce the same effect with Dimensions' re-creation of arcade Galaga but the effect is not as powerful. Perhaps that's due to the commotion of Galaga or its starry background field. Too much visual noise, perhaps? But with Pac-Man the sense of playing a game that was displayed below glass was strong and evoked plenty of nostalgia. It wasn't pizza-joint perfect, I'm sorry to report. Pac-Man's little yellow image doubled for me a little, despite my adjustments of the 3D slider. Things weren't a little blurry like that back in the day. I didn't mind.
I was able to see something that made me feel like I was physically observing an arcade machine. That's not a perk I expected to get from the 3DS. It's cool. Plus, Dimensions has that copy of Championship Edition on it. The whole package, which also includes a tilt-based Pac-Man platforming game and Galaga Legions, will be out later this month.