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Who would have thought that a game that requires you to manipulate a small, yellow disk around a maze, devouring dots and avoiding malevolent ghosts would become the foundation of all video gaming. Strange as it may seem, Pac-Man is arguably the game that earned the videogame industry mainstream, pop culture acceptance (yes, Pong and Space Invaders were big, but Pac-Man exploded). After sinking some time into the new Xbox Live Arcade version, we remember what all the hooplah was about.
One of the most precisely distilled gaming experiences around, Pac-Man narrows your focus to a hair's breadth and monopolizes your attention with its classic formula. Presented in nearly flawless reproduction on the 360, Pac-Man has a remarkable new feature that allows you to continue from the last level you got to, so once you've cleared the first few boards, you can warp right passed them into orange territory.
Unfortunately, the 360's hopeless directional pad can't quite provide the necessary precision for serious Pac-manning. Hopefully, Microsoft will deliver a controller like the Hori Dead or Alive 4 arcade stick so that this classic gem won't be tarnished by mushy misdirection from the 360 controller.
Priced at around $5, Pac-Man looks like it will be an excellent addition to the already addictive stable of Xbox Live Arcade hits. While the number of first-person shooters continue to clutter store shelves, Xbox Live Arcade continues to be a secret window into other genres for 360 owners and a delightful alternative throw-back to the golden age of gaming.