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PAC-MAN 99 (Switch eShop) review

The crusade to turn all of the game’s flagship titles into Battle Royales continues and follows Tetris and Super Mario Bros., which classic game is more iconic than PAC-MAN?

Maybe we should have seen this one coming. What makes the ’99’ series ingenious is that it is based on games that have proven their timelessness over the decades and instead of disrupting their flow by changing what worked, it simply sprinkles some modern layers that make it feel. are clean. Vanilla PAC-MAN is already one of the most addicting games out there, but when you introduce a fast-paced competitive component, that feeling of “just one more game” is exacerbated exponentially. This 41 year old classic has just never been so hard to quell and even with all that it adds, it’s basically just PAC-MAN – which says a lot about the resistance of the original.

So how exactly did they make PAC-MAN a 99 player game? Well, just like its 99 series predecessors, everyone is playing on their own isolated screen, but what you do can have an impact and get in the way of the other 98 gamers. Using the right stick you can target an opponent or protect yourself from incoming ghosts and every time you swallow a ghost on your screen it sends a ghostly little Pac-Man to theirs. These aren’t as deadly as Mario 35’s Goombas or Koopas, but encountering them temporarily slows down your Pac-Man – if your screen is full of them, the iconic Four Ghosts have a major advantage against you. You can amplify the carnage with new sensors that multiply ghosts during the Vulnerability phase by giving you an all-you-can-eat ghost buffet similar to the one found in PAC-MAN Championship Edition.

It all seems pretty straightforward so far, right? Well, PAC-MAN 99 has a few extra layers and that doesn’t exactly explain … well, none of them. For example, in addition to being able to target other players, there is actually a secondary wheel that changes how the power pads work. If you select “harder” before picking up a pellet you will notice that the ghosts only become vulnerable for four seconds, but if you manage to catch one of them during this time you will deal a lot more damage. to your opponent than usual. It is difficult to balance both the targeting system and the power pellet system while playing a fast game of PAC-MAN and in this regard, PAC-MAN 99 is not as instantly intuitive as the inputs. previous ones. That’s not to say that understanding these mechanics is essential to victory, but those who master them will surely have an advantage – especially as the average skill level of the playerbase increases over time.

It might not be instantly understandable, but when it clicks, that game becomes something special. There are so many playstyles and options to take in – picking up a piece of regular pellets will spawn a fruit in the middle of the screen and collecting that will cause all the other mics to reappear, but if you ignore it and can Waka waka by moving around the board like in a regular game of PAC-MAN, you will get a permanent speed increase for eating each pellet. So, are you using your time to improve your stats or are you using that time to munch on as many ghosts as possible? Maybe you sit in a corner and try to waste as much time as possible while your opponents slowly give up like flies. We found ourselves adapting and improvising more than in any other PAC-MAN game in our life. It is simply exhilarating.

In terms of rhythm, this is by far the most captivating track “99” to date. Winning our first game took just five minutes and we took first place in as little as four. Not only does this make PAC-MAN 99 the perfect game to play in short bursts, it also makes it incredibly difficult to stop playing. If you start a game and get 50th? “Hey, that one doesn’t count, try again.” Top 10? “I almost made it … try again.” First place? “… let’s go again”. If anything, we feel the need to warn you that this game can kill your productivity. Nintendo Life? We are now living the PAC-MAN 99 life.

Tetris 99 is also one of our Switch favorites, but it didn’t launch in such a rugged state – luckily, PAC-MAN 99 debuts with a lot of features that Tetris fans have had to wait for months. .. although much of it is paid DLC. It’s hard to feel too aggravated when the main mode that matters is free for all Nintendo Switch Online subscribers, but if you want to play with it a Dig Dug or Galaga theme be prepared to shell out real money. It’s certainly not as offensive as other free-to-play games, and these skins are legitimately excellent with much more dynamic elements than those found in Tetris, but not a single one costs a dime in this game.

Offline modes are also behind a paywall, much like in Tetris, and especially one of these modes preserves the main gameplay of PAC-MAN 99 in an offline state against bots. You might be wondering why this is so important; Well, that ensures that this style of play will never be lost in time, unlike the very expensive Super Mario Bros. 35. The servers inevitably go down for every online game, but forty years from now we will still be able to enjoy PAC-MAN 99, even if it’s fair against the bots. There are also simple score and time attack variations for one player that add a bit more value, although they are by no means the main attraction.

PAC-MAN 99 is definitely more money hungry than previous iterations, but core 99 mode plays the same whether you open your wallet or not. Almost everything is just an additional bandage … almost. In Tetris 99, you and a friend can share a password to make sure you’re paired up in the same game, and luckily PAC-MAN adopts a similar feature with a completely private lobby with friends – but only if those friends pay and buy. the PAC-MAN 99 pack. We may be behind other monetized components, but this one is a step too far and limits what has the potential to be a remarkable community feature.

Even with a few bumps surrounding the package, however, it’s hard to be upset when the base game is as good as it gets and is essentially “free”. This is gaming in its purest form, every match starts out well and just gets better as it lasts. PAC-MAN cannot be bogged down with pacing issues and downtime because this is PAC-MAN. Developer Arika has taken one of the most addicting, refined, and timeless games and made it better in one way or another.


PAC-MAN 99 may seem intimidating at first with a mechanic it just doesn’t explain, but once you experiment and learn by fire, it won’t take long to realize its true potential. Arika and Bandai Namco have barely touched the formula for this 41-year-old classic, and yet, with just a few new layers, it feels like a whole new game. We’ve invested more time than we’d like to admit in previous ones. ’99’ entries and it is clear that PAC-MAN 99 is intended for evergreen greatness.

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