At E3 last week, Namco Bandai and ex-Marvel Studios producer Avi Arad came together to announce that, after 26 long years away, Pac-Man would be making his return to television in a new animated series. But beyond that, little was said and even less was seen, save for a few plot details, and that it would be shown in 3D.
Fortunately, as you can see above, GameTrailers managed to snag some off-screen footage of a promotional reel of the cartoon being played at the Expo in Los Angeles a week ago. Unfortunately, in addition to being recorded by a peripheral camera, the 3D is also in effect, making the video a little bit of an eyesore to watch as-is. So for those who don’t want to go to the trouble, but still wish to learn more, keep reading.
3D visuals aside, perhaps the most jarring thing one is likely to notice first is Pac-Man’s voice. Rather than the Jackie Gleason-esque voice from the original cartoon, the Pac-Man World voice, or even the simple video game sound effects used in his takeover of Microsoft, he sounds… young.
Indeed, much like Mega Man and the Armored Adventures version of Iron Man, it seems that this Man, too, will instead be portrayed as but a boy.
Along with some classmates, Pac-Man learns that an evil menace which had been stripped of their corporeal forms and banished long ago has returned to conquer their world. No points for guessing how Pac-Man is supposed to handle these ghostly invaders.
However, as our hero soon learns, it’s just a little more complicated than just opening your mouth and chewing; he needs a bit of enhancement. A power-up, if you will. And so they use pellets from the “power palm tree” to give Pac-Man the strength (and appetite) needed to conquer the gooey ghosts.
The mentor figure seems ready to give Pac-Man everything he’ll need to conquer his foes (and likely make a killing in the toy aisle, maybe courtesy of Bandai’s toy division), except lunch. That little revelation does prompt a classic sound effect from the games, in case anyone was worried the producers had forgotten the franchise’s origins.
Meanwhile, an enemy vaguely reminiscent of Mezmaron from the original cartoon rallies his followers to go out and finish Pac-Man so that Pac-World will be theirs. As they depart, he humorously instructs the ghosts to “miss me!” as he ponders their return.
Pac-Man is then walking with his friends as a fierce ghost begins to attack. We also get what may be our first glimpse of the actual ghost characters from the games, which were previously said to be allied with the heroic dot-eater, but are otherwise unmentioned and unseen throughout the trailer.
Pac gets ready to lay down the smack, and the evil ghosts return to their lair, one disembodied set of eyeballs at a time. “At least they came back,” our resident villain happily proclaims.
And in the last scene of the trailer, just after the credit screen, we get a little of the “chase” cut scene music from the original arcade games as one of the colored ghosts chases Pac-Man across and off the screen before returning in dark blue, pursued by a giant Super(?) Pac-Man like the one seen earlier in the trailer.
The trailer does not do much to show the seeming social commentary spoken of previously, but it does give us a glimpse at what may turn out to be an all-new direction for Pac-Man. Gone is the Pac-Family-Man we’ve become familiar with over the past 30 years (speaking of which, one has to wonder if there are any plans for Ms. Pac-Man to join the series, what with him being “the only yellow character in Pac-Land”), and in his place stands a young hero who seems to be poised to realize his destiny as the savior of his world.
This animated series, which so far does not seem to have a determined release date, may or may not appeal to some gamers who grew up with Pac-Man titles over the many years he’s been around. But then, odds are that it’s not meant to. While some adults may in fact enjoy the show on its own merits, odds are that this is Namco Bandai’s big push to introduce the character to a new generation of children, those far removed from arcade games and wondering what an “Atari” is.
And in that regard, this show seems like it will have a pretty good shot at reaching its goals.
Of course, one must also wonder if this 3D television show will have any sort of tie-in to Nintendo’s 3DS, which has an unnamed Pac-Man title among its massive lineup. Namco Bandai’s press release doesn’t say much, however, only that the game is “totally reworked for the Nintendo 3DSTM and including all the classic game modes.”
For that matter, one is left to wonder if there will be a way to view the cartoon without a 3D television. That could potentially hurt the show in the long run.
Nonetheless, after seeing this, it’s hard to argue: Pac-Man has certainly come a long way from the drawings in Toru Iwatani’s notebook.