It has been over thirty-six years since Pac-Man was released upon unsuspecting arcade players and the hungry little guy remains at the top of the most recognizable video game characters. The original Pac-Man game required you to guide the titular character through mazes filled with edible dots, yummy fruit, a gang of ghost stalkers and precious few power pellets you could use to turn the tables on your phantom stalkers. Over the decades we have seen Pac-Man appear in platformers, quasi-puzzle games, a kart racer, a guest appearance in Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. and he even appears in a playable maze built from Google’s logo. pac-Man 256 answers the inevitable question: Where does Pac-Man go from here?
The answer is that he goes back home and this time Pac-Man brought a couple of indie game developers with him. The developers of the ridiculously successful Crossy Road have teamed up with Namco Bandai to bring us a new – or old – take on Pac-Man. The game is based on the infamous Map 256 glitch from the original Pac-Man which spawned a mass of letters and numbers that effectively ends your playthrough.
In Pac-Man 256 you find yourself in a maze filled with visuals that look identical to the original arcade game though the character models were rendered in 3D. The maze is presented through an isometric angle and as you might expect from a team that created Crossy Road, stretches towards infinity with no true endpoint. You will find plenty of dots, fruit and even power pellets to turn the tables on those ghostly enemies. For the record, the original ghosts have returned and they brought along a few friends to hunt you down. If the odds are becoming a bit too overwhelming you can make use of all new power-ups such as a laser beam that fires in whatever direction Pac-Man is facing.
Enter the glitch. As you make your way throughout the maze you will become aware of a mess filled with letters and numbers. That’s the glitch and it is destroying the maze behind you like a swarm of little Langoliers. It is a very effective motivator for moving forward in the maze but the glitch can even manifest in tiny spots ahead of you as well. Imagine narrowly avoiding two ghosts and you’re madly chomping your way down your planned escape route only to find the glitch has blocked your progress.
Pac-Man 256 is a free-to-play game with an unusual twist on the micro-transaction formula. Throughout the maze you will occasionally find credits thatbyou can pick up. Spending one of these credits lets you play the game with the aforementioned power-ups. If you don’t have any credits you can play for free but you won’t be able to use any power-ups. If you want to buy some credits you can pay 99 cents for a 12-pack or you can bite the bullet and pay $7.99 upfront for unlimited credits which is worth the cost if you plan to playbthis game a lot. Finally, there is a $5 Coin-Doubler which doubles the value of the coins you find within the maze. You may even find some higher value coins now and then. You can use these coins to boost your power-ups for decimating those ghosts.
You can play Pac-Man 256 on your smartphone or tablet right now. The game will be released for PC, Xbox One and PS4 in June.