Bandai Namco Games is celebrating 35 years of Pac-Man by launching a brand new game based on a glitch in the original. Anyone who played the arcade game designed by Toru Iwatani -- and was really good -- knows about the Map 256 glitch that made the game impossible to beat. When you get to level 256 the left side of the screen becomes jumbled, so it’s impossible to continue. Now there’s an entire mobile game, which is also available on Android TV, that’s based on that glitch.
PAC-MAN 256 is a free-to-download endless maze game played from an isometric perspective featuring pixilated 3D ghosts. The game’s been designed for swipe mobile gameplay, but also translates well to a controller for Android TV. Developed by Hipster Whale, the game also incorporates the “glitch” concept into the gameplay. At certain points in the game, the glitch chews up the level. Benjamin Prenom, associate producer at Bandai Namco Games, breaks down the new game and explains how NVIDIA technology has improved the Android TV experience in this exclusive interview.
What were your goals heading into this game?
We wanted to bring some of the most distinctive and well loved elements of PAC-MAN into a new game that provided a fresh spin on the classic PAC-MAN formula, while also making something that felt modern and fresh.
What’s the storyline in this game world?
In PAC-MAN 256, PAC-MAN is trapped in an endless maze fleeing an all-consuming, screen size glitch that slowly eats away at the maze. While moving through the maze, PAC-MAN will need to contend with all of the classic Ghosts like Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde, as well as some new Ghosts with all new behaviours.
Who are the main characters?
Like any good PAC-MAN game, PAC-MAN and the ghosts are the focus. As well as Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde, we’ve included some new Ghosts that will shake things up for older players: Spunky, Sue, Funky and Glitchy.
How do you feel you're pushing things forward with this game?
We feel like PAC-MAN 256 brings what we loved about the classic PAC-MAN experience into a modern setting, making it accessible and engaging for a whole new generation of players who may never have played any of the original PAC-MAN games.
Can you talk about the single player experience?
Players control PAC-MAN by swiping on the screen or using a joystick as they move through a randomly generated maze filled to the brim with dangerous ghosts. Along the way they’ll find the classic Power Dots, as well as all new Powerups that let PAC-MAN deal with the Ghosts in some creative ways.
How have you worked with NVIDIA on your game?
NVIDIA were gracious enough to provide a Shield TV and a Shield handheld device early in production, and they became a core part of our Android development process.
What have they provided in terms of tech that has helped with development?
We used NVIDIA’s AndroidWorks to quickly and easily set up our development environment.
What are your thoughts on the evolution of Android as a platform?
The many directions Android is spreading in is what excites us the most. There’s lots of opportunities now and in the future to make games on everything from phones to tablets, to TV set top boxes.
What excites you about Android TV?
The open nature of Android means it’s impossible to predict what sort of exciting experiences will emerge on Android TV. Both in games and in the broader tech industry, there’s a lot of potential in TV devices to change the way we consume content.
What impact do you think NVIDIA Shield Android TV could have within the gaming ecosystem?
We see the Shield Android TV as a great entry point for players looking for a flexible television experience. Being able to stream desktop games as well as play rich, intensive games natively on device means there should be something for players of all kinds.
What do you see Nvidia Shield Android TV opening up for game developers moving forward?
The Shield Android TV is an easy choice when deciding what platforms to release games on. High performance, full controller support and the Android OS means it’s incredibly easy to get a game up and running.
How does your game take advantage of NVIDIA Shield Android TV’s functionality?
We make full use of the controller on Shield TV, and the powerful hardware allows us to use all of our expensive full-screen effects and shaders to make one of the best looking versions of PAC-MAN 256.
How was it adding controller support to your game?
We use Unity and Gallant Games InControl package to handle all of our controller input, making it incredibly easy to support controllers on Shield devices. We already supported standard gamepads on PC for testing, so there was no additional work required.
What impact has Tegra X1 technology had on the gameplay experience Shield Android TV users will have (any specifics would be great)?
The high performance of the Tegra technology allowed us to use our full range of effects at a smooth 60 frames per second at native resolution, a feat some other hardware struggled to do.