Okay, messing with the classics can be a tough thing to do right. Just look at what happened in the late 90’s with Battlezone by Activision. What a mess that was. There have been a few other attempts over the years to update classics such as Asteroids, Battlezone, Missile Command and more but those were mostly simply graphical upgrades and not much else. Pac-Man 256 is an upgrade of a classic title that doesn’t stray from the original formula too much, rather it is expanded and that simply works.
The original Pac-Man was a quarter munching game that wouldn’t stop (unless we are talking about the horrid Atari 2600 version). Namco knew they had a hit on their hands and eventually came out with sequels such as Super Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man and Pac-Man Jr. For those that are new to the whole idea of Pac-Man, you guide your little yellow guy around a maze and eat pellets for points. There are fruit that show up here and there and they are worth mega points when eaten. You will notice larger pellets laying around, those are power pellets, eat those and you can eat the ghosts that are chasing you around. There is a “kill screen” at level 256, or at the end of maze number 256 if you will. That is effectively the end of the game. I mention that because it factors into Pac-Man 256 quite well.
The original Pac-Man was a quarter munching game that wouldn’t stop
In Pac-Man 256 that formula is expanded a bit with power ups such as a freeze, laser and becoming a giant Pac-Man to name a few. The ghosts are still around and they have multiplied a little, cloned in other places and are even seen line dancing in the maze. The maze is no longer a single screen, no, in Pac-Man 256 it is an endless maze that you must continuously meander around going forward/upwards as the kill screen is coming for you. If you get too close to the gibberish that is advancing on your position then the screen will get fuzzy and things will be harder to make out- a nice touch.
The music is perfectly Pac-Man also. Sound effects are spot on and the controls are easy to manage with a touch screen or a controller- your choice, it really is not a hindrance using swipes to control Pac-Man here. There are In App Purchases (IAP) and a time mechanism in play here so it is not all happy go lucky gaming. The IAP is fair and the time mechanism is also fairly unobtrusive (unlike that of Game of War: Fire Age). You can increase the power of the power ups through little yellow “chips” you pick up in the maze so don’t be scared to go out of your way to grab another, it might mean another second or two of your favorite power up.
When eating a ghost, or getting eaten by one, the characters explode much like they do in the recently released Pixels movie starring Adam Sandler and Kevin James (review of that here). This is a nice touch that can cross over between fans of the movie and the game. While people that cannot stand Pac-Man will find nothing that will change their minds here, those that are either fans or are tired of the old formula will probably love Pac-Man 256.
Pac-Man 256 by Bandai Namco
Platform: Android (reviewed) and iOS
Genre: Maze, arcade
Contains In App Purchases
Rated: Everyone on Google Play and 4+ on iTunes
Available now on Google Play and the iTunes App Store