Back in 2019, developer Arika delivered one of the most pleasantly surprising games of the year with Tetris 99, a battle royale spin on the classic puzzle game. Arika then worked alongside Nintendo last year to create Super Mario 35, a similar battle royale in the vein of the original Super Mario Bros. Now, Arika is bringing its sensibilities to one of Bandai Namco’s most prized IP with the release of PAC-MAN 99.
Last chomper standing
PAC-MAN 99 features the classic waka waka pellet-eating action that the franchise known for, but with a battle royale twist. You and 98 other players are placed in a match, each of you with your own independent game of Pac-Man to worry about. If you’re killed by one of the ghosts, it’s game over. The last player still playing is crowned champion.
While it’s already hard enough to be the last player standing out of 99 simultaneous games of Pac-Man, it’s even harder when you consider all of the tricks PAC-MAN 99 has up its sleeves. Players are given an arsenal of tools that they can use to disrupt and make things harder for their opponents. As in the original game, eating a power pellet will turn ghosts blue. Eating blue ghosts in PAC-MAN 99 sends a jammer Pac-Man to the game of another player, cutting them off from certain routes.
There’s also different preset strategies that players can switch between in order to complicate things in other players’ games. This includes Speed Up, which makes the ghosts move faster, or extra jammers, which as the name implies, sends an extra amount of Pac-Man jammers to opponent’s games.
PAC-MAN 99 strikes a beautiful balance between providing that classic Pac-Man gameplay, while also offering a fresh and difficult challenge. It’s insanely satisfying to win a game of PAC-MAN 99, and games can get extremely intense in the final moments. The one thing the battle royale mode feels like it’s missing is more levels outside of the original Pac-Man maze. Added levels could keep the experience fresh for frequent players.
More ways to play
In addition to the standard battle royale mode, PAC-MAN 99 also features additional modes for players to enjoy. However, you’ll need to purchase the additional modes for $14.99 in order to access them. The CPU Battle game mode allows the players to tune difficulty and speed, and is an excellent way for players to hone their skills without worrying about players online.
The Score Attack mode is your standard Pac-Man gameplay, but with all of PAC-MAN 99’s elements. Players compete with themselves to get the highest score possible, while still avoiding ghosts and taking advantage of the game’s unique power ups. You can even host private matches in PAC-MAN 99, taking on your friends in the battle royale.
As players level up and complete challenges, they can unlock new emblems to wear in matches. You can also change your game theme using a wide variety of custom themes, some of which can be purchased from the Nintendo eShop.
Just keep chomping
PAC-MAN 99 is another hit for Arika, this time with one of the most iconic arcade games of all time. It’s a bit surprising just how well Pac-Man fits into the 99-player battle royale format, but that’s just a testament to the work done by the developers. PAC-MAN 99 has me excited for whatever the developer’s put out next.
This review is based on a digital download from the Nintendo eShop. PAC-MAN 99 is available now for free on the Nintendo eShop digital store.
- Excellent Pac-Man gameplay
- New mechanics makes the experience fresh and competitive
- Bonus modes are a fun alternative to standard gameplay
- Only one level