E3 06: Pac-Man World Rally hands-on

It seems to be a rite of passage that every cartoon-y, platform-y game character must eventually star in a kart racing game. This summer, one of the earliest arcade stars - Pac-Man, one of few modern game characters who can remember when Mario was a rookie - gets his turn behind the wheel.

He's not alone - there are at least 15 characters in all, including the fire-breathing dragon Fygar from Namco's arcade classic Dig-Dug and a certain roll-headed prince from a more modern hit, Katamari Damacy.

Each has his, her or its own wheels, which they then pilot in fairly typical go-kart races that showcase the Pac-Man theme. Power-ups include strawberry missiles and grape grenades, fruit in the road opens doors to alternate routes when run over, and if you grab enough power pellets, you transform temporarily into Super Pac-Man. You can then gobble up the other racers, who have conveniently turned blue.

There are around 15 racing levels, as well as 1-4-player battle arenas, which toss out the racing and focus on the wreckage. The PSP version promises ad-hoc multiplay too.

May 12, 2006