First Tetris, then Tremendous Mario, and now Pac-Man: Nintendo Change continues its streak of “retro battle royale” video video games this week by asking a remarkably bizarre query. What would Pac-Man be like if 99 individuals performed the sport on the identical time, and just one pellet muncher emerged victorious?
The brand new sport, creatively titled Pac-Man 99, arrives on the night of Wednesday, April 7, as a free obtain for paying subscribers to the Nintendo Change On-line service. Its resemblance to 2019’s Tetris 99 and 2020’s Tremendous Mario 35 isn’t any accident, because it has been designed with the identical “NintendoWare Bezel Engine” utilized in these different video games—and that framework seems to cleverly juggle simultaneous periods of aggressive Pac-Man.
Jammers, ghost trains, and boosts
As seen within the sport’s shock reveal on Tuesday night, Pac-Man 99‘s default on-line mode resembles the oldest-school model of Pac-Man, by way of chasing ghosts and chomping yellow dots on the sequence’ earliest black-and-blue maze. Like Tetris 99 earlier than it, Pac-Man 99 performs loads like its conventional supply materials, solely with fields of on-line gamers interfering with one another’s progress. You ship assaults to different gamers’ fields (seen on the display screen’s edges as smaller home windows) by consuming energy pellets after which devouring susceptible ghosts. They do the identical to you.
This sport’s twist is a brand new thought for the sequence. Your assaults ship waves of “jammer Pac-Men” to opponents’ fields (seen on the display screen’s edges as smaller home windows), however these do not trigger direct hurt. As an alternative, these clear Pac shadows litter the sport’s mazes as pace bumps, and gamers should maneuver Pac-Man by their quicksand lumps to make them disappear. One or two jammers are tolerable; six or extra seem to be an actual headache, particularly when Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde pin you in a nook.
Thus, success in Pac-Man 99 will hinge partly on plotting your maze motion in a manner that allows you to safely clear jammers and hold your pace excessive. Sending assaults to different gamers, in the meantime, requires creating “ghost trains,” which have been lifted from the Pac-Man Championship Version sequence. Arrange these screen-filling sequence of ghosts with out unintentionally bumping into them, then eat an influence pellet so you possibly can gobble dozens of ghosts in neatly organized rows.
Gamers additionally get entry to a few selectable “boost” modes, dubbed “strength,” “speed,” and “train,” and whereas they appear self-explanatory sufficient, we have but to see when and the way they’re toggled within the sport or whether or not they make the essential act of ghost-dodging extra enjoyable or not.
Ninten-does what Stadia doesn’t fairly
Weirdly, this is not the one on-line Pac-Man idea to launch previously yr. Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle debuted on Google Stadia in October 2020, however its 64-player take revolves round a lot bigger fields of dots the place gamers can stumble upon one another. In my testing expertise, Mega Tunnel Battle can show laggy and jumpy when different on-line gamers’ connections degrade for any cause. Since Pac-Man 99 retains every participant in their very own remoted playfield, it could neatly sidestep such points.
I’ve beforehand lauded Tetris 99 as an ingenious, challenge-boosting twist to the acquainted Tetris system. Whereas we weren’t essentially as scorching on Tremendous Mario 35‘s comparable twist the next yr, it was a enjoyable lark—albeit a short lived one, since Nintendo shut that sport’s servers down on March 31, the identical day it delisted Tremendous Mario 3D All-Stars. (We hardly knew ye, Mario.) Pac-Man 99 appears to be like prefer it hews nearer to the Tetris 99 aspect of issues, which bodes properly for the free-with-subscription sport launching later at this time.
Itemizing picture by Nintendo / Bandai Namco