Pac-Man gets an upgrade, hits XBLA tomorrow

Yesterday's rumored big announcement has come to a fruition in the form of an update to an iconic franchise. NAMCO and Microsoft just announced that the Pac-Man Championship Edition will be headed to the XBLA and will feature the first new mazes in over 26 years. The new Championship Edition is exclusive to the XBLA and will stick with the standard 80's 2D presentation, but will include added features and gameplay. The game will feature six new timed game modes, a new soundtrack, a new HD presentation, and brand new dynamically changing mazes. NAMCO's Pac-Man Championship Edition will be available this Wednesday on the Arcade for 800 Microsoft points. Full press release after the break.

We know this news is extremely exciting for Pac-Man fans around the world as this is the first time the original Pac-Man game has been updated with new content. But for the rest of us who were expecting a BIG Xbox announcement, we can't help but feel a little saddened as our imaginations and expectations may have gotten the best of us.

Original "Pac-Man" Creator Surprises World With First New Mazes in 26 Years - Only on Xbox 360

London - June 5, 2007 - The year was 1981: Big hair, leg warmers and high-waisted jeans were popular fashions, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" hit cinemas, and everyone was saving up their money to play the latest video games. Also that year, a new video game by game designer Toru Iwatani at NAMCO LTD. (currently NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc.) hit arcades around the world and would soon become a pop-culture phenomenon and one of the most beloved games of all time. That game was "Pac-Man®".

Today Microsoft Corp. and NAMCO BANDAI Games made video game history by unveiling the "Pac-Man Championship Edition" - featuring the first new Pac-Man mazes in more than 26 years - available only on the Xbox 360™.

The "Pac-Man Championship Edition" is the same beloved "Pac-Man" game played in arcades of the '80s but is updated with new features that former "Pac-Man" fanatics and new generations of fans alike will love. It includes new mazes that dynamically change shape during gameplay, six new timed game modes, new soundtracks and high-definition (HD) graphics. Details include the following:

· Classic 2-D "Pac-Man" presentation with a new, modern look in HD
· Six new, timed game modes:

- The Championship Mode. This is the main game mode designed by NAMCO BANDAI Games and Iwatani specifically for the championship round of the Xbox 360 Pac-Man World Championship. This mode – as well as all others within the "Pac-Man Championship Edition" – features redesigned mazes with wide maze walls and a widescreen configuration to better enable high-speed game play. Timed limit of five minutes.

- Challenge Mode 1 (Patience and Reward Course). This mode is an evolution of the Championship Mode. Patience mazes strategically offer fewer Power Pellets and Reward mazes provide a large number of Power Pellets – providing unique challenges and rewards for the player. Timed limit of 10 minutes.

- Challenge Mode 2 (The Darkness Course). In this mode, only the area directly around Pac-Man and the Ghosts is visible and the maze walls are completely hidden. Timed limit of 10 minutes.

- Extra Mode 1 (The Freeway Course). An extremely high-speed mode for advanced players, this mode features warp-speed Pac-Man and Ghosts and plenty of tunnels. Timed limit of five minutes.

- Extra Mode 2 (The Manhattan Course). A mode inspired by the streets of Manhattan - the home for the first-ever Xbox 360 Pac-Man World Championship. Timed limit of five minutes.

- Extra Mode 3 (The Overall Course). A mix of all other modes resulting in extreme mazes for the most devout Pac-Man fans. Timed limit of 10 minutes.

· Xbox LIVE leaderboards, Achievements and Gamerscore
· Rated E for Everyone by the Entertainment Software Rating Board
· Costs 800 Microsoft® Points
· Available for download only on Xbox LIVE Arcade on the Xbox 360 starting at 0900 BST on Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Since launching in 1980 in Japan and in 1981 around the world, "Pac-Man," its host of ghosts and its famous "wakka wakka wakka" sound have become global pop-culture icons. This arcade game played an instrumental role in establishing the video game industry in the 1980s, while the launch of Xbox LIVE in 2002 was a key factor behind the rapid growth in popularity of online gaming. Today, Xbox LIVE Arcade is the premier online destination for digitally distributed HD games offering fans around the globe a great opportunity to connect, compete, and enjoy the fun.

"'Pac-Man' was the game that ignited the world's passion for video games, with every member of the family hooked on avoiding Clyde and eating up all the Power Pellets," said Jeff Bell, corporate vice president of Global Marketing for the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. "It is a tremendous honor that NAMCO BANDAI and Toru Iwatani are going to use the power of the Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE Arcade platform to deliver the next evolution of 'Pac-Man' to the world."

This article was originally published on Joystiq.