Pac-Man 256 (iOS, Amazon, Google Play)

PAC256_BOXPac-Man 256 is another new free-to-play Pac-Man game, but this one’s actually really good. It’s available for download on iOS, Amazon, and Google Play, but reviewed on iPad here.  I believe it was also made by the same folks who did the popular Crossy Road mobile title.  So what is the significance of the number 256 and Pac-Man?  Well, in the original arcade game, there was a glitch where if you got to maze 256, half of the screen would mess up and make the game unplayable. I guess the makers of Pac-Man didn’t think anyone would get that far!  But what if you could try and outrun the glitch before it engulfed the whole maze!  Well that’s what Pac-Man 256 is all about!

At first the game looks like a regular Pac-Maze, but viewed at a slight isometric perspective. Move Pac-Man around by swiping on the touch screen in the direction you want him to go.  But your goal isn’t to eat all the dots this time; your goal is to keep moving upward, avoiding the ever-approaching glitch that is devouring the maze from the bottom!  As you scoot about the maze, there are dots you can eat for points, and the way the points work is similar to how it is in Pac-Man Championship Edition.  Each dot you eat in succession is worth one more point than the last, so if you keep on eating them right in a row without turning around or going down a maze path that has no dots, your score will get exponentially higher.

But it’s not as easy as it sounds, though, because you also have to watch out for ghosts. If they get you, or if you get run over by the glitch, the game is over.  Similar to the original Pac-Man, each ghost has a different way of moving.  Clyde the orange ghost will always move downward and won’t chase you.  Inky the light blue ghost won’t chase you either; just follow a set path around a block in the maze.  Pinky sits in one place, but if she sees you, she’ll charge forward.  Blinky the red ghost you’ll encounter later on, and he’ll moves like Clyde but will chase you upward, too, if you get close.  Other green and purple ghosts move back and forth in rows, and sleeping grey ghosts won’t move unless you get close and wake them up, and then they’ll chase you.

Luckily there are power-ups that can give you an edge. Gobble up a power pellet and you can eat the ghosts for a short while, just like in the arcade game.  Bonus fruit will give you a score multiplier for a limited time.  There are also a bunch of other crazy power-ups that you earn by eating Pac-Dots, and you can equip three to appear in the maze as well.  These include the ability to shoot lasers, grow big, leave a trail of fire, and much more!  By completing certain objectives you can earn coins, which can also be found on the maze as well.  You can use coins to upgrade your power-ups so they’ll last longer.

As a free-to-play title, there are some typical nuances of this type of game that I’ll tell you about. When you spend coins to upgrade your power-ups, you’ll have to wait a while to use them or upgrade them further.  Also, if you want to play with power-ups, you’ll have to use credits, which refill over time (up to 6).  But the good thing is the wait time for both of these things isn’t very long at all.  And you can always play at any time with just power pellets only.  You only spend credits if you want to play with the other crazy power-ups.  You can also view videos if you want more coins, and you can use credits to continue as well.  The game also gives you the option to have unlimited credits for just five bucks, and 99 cents gets you a classic-themed Pac-Man maze skin.  So the free-to-play wait times and things didn’t really bother me at all here.

The game has some small problems, though. One nitpicky one is that the orange fruit in the original game has a higher point value than the strawberry, but in Pac-Man 256, the strawberry gives you a higher point multiplier.  A more important problem is that sometimes the swiping controls didn’t always work the way I wanted them to, which can be annoying if you’re trying to stay in a path of dots for a high score.  But other than that, this is a really good Pac-Man game and one of the better free-to-play titles I’ve ever downloaded!


Kid Factor:

The game is no more violent than the classic arcade title, and I grew up on that and turned out OK. Reading skill is helpful for some of the menus and text, and parental supervision is recommended for the in-game purchases.

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