Ordinarily, a follow-up to one of gaming's all-time biggest franchises--one created with the original designer's participation, no less--would be subject to months or possibly years of hype.
However, this morning Microsoft and Namco Bandai announced and dated Pac-Man Championship Edition, a revamped version of the arcade classic designed with Pac-creator Toru Iwatani's help. Interested gamers won't have long to wait to go hands-on with the Championship Edition, as it is currently set for release on the Xbox Live Arcade tomorrow at 2 a.m. Pacific.
Pac-Man Championship Edition makes a number of alterations to the traditional Pac-formula. First and foremost, the game's mazes have been designed with a horizontal emphasis to take better advantage of widescreen TVs. On top of that, the mazes will change during gameplay, with players able to enlarge a cramped level by eating bonus fruit. Pac-Man will also be able to string together ghost-eating combos across multiple power pellets.
In addition to the main championship mode, players will be able to try five more modes that tweak the rules and impose five- or 10-minute time limits on the action. The tweaks include invisible walls, warp speed, a mode "inspired by the streets of Manhattan," and an overall course that combines aspects of the other modes.
The game was created to coincide with the Pac-Man World Championship, the finals of which were held today. According to Microsoft, the competition ended with Iwatani himself crowning 27-year-old Carlos Daniel Borrego as the winner. Hailing from Pachuca, Mexico, Borrego scored 222,160 on the Championship Edition during the final match, which was enough to put him atop a field of competitors, including Billy Mitchell, who played the world's first perfect game of Pac-Man in 1999.
Pac-Man Championship Edition has been rated E for Everyone and will be available tomorrow morning for 800 Microsoft points ($10).