Nintendo Switch continues the retro battle royale trend with Pac-Man 99

  • Let’s break down

    Pac-Man 99

    , the latest retro battle royale game on Nintendo Switch.
  • Standard Pac-Man here. Gobble dots. Find power pellets. Eat ghosts.
  • When you eat a ghost, gray phantom ghosts explode and fly to opponents’ fields.
  • These are known as “jammer” Pac-Men, and they become slowly moving speed traps. You have to move through one, and deal with its slowdown, before it goes away.
  • Looks like a gang of jammers slowed this Pac-Man down too much to avoid death.
  • Sleeping ghosts, on the other hand, can be gobbled up…
  • …and when that happens, they start trailing behind bigger ghosts. This creates more hazards on your field…
  • …but it also can result in a serious ghost-chomping payday when you finally hit a power pellet.
  • Power-up options on the left. “Aim your attacks” choices on the right.
  • Beat the other 98 players, and you’ll become the Pac-One!
  • Three modes come with a $15 purchase. They don’t seem particularly appealing.
  • But if you need

    another

    way to accumulate score challenges in Pac-Man, here ya go.
  • Speedrunners, get ready.
  • Bandai Namco is also happy to charge you $2 a pop for field-changing skins based on classic arcade series.

First

Tetris

, then

Super Mario

, and now

Pac-Man

: Nintendo Switch continues its streak of “retro battle royale” video games this week by asking a remarkably weird question. What would

Pac-Man

be like if 99 people played the game at the same time, and only one pellet muncher emerged victorious?

The new game, creatively titled


Pac-Man 99


, arrives on Wednesday, March 7, as a free download for paying subscribers to

the Nintendo Switch Online service

. Its resemblance to 2019’s


Tetris 99


and 2020’s


Super Mario 35


is no accident, since it has been designed with the same “NintendoWare Bezel Engine” used in those other games—and that framework appears to cleverly juggle simultaneous sessions of competitive

Pac-Man

.

Jammers, ghost trains, and boosts

As seen in the game’s surprise reveal on Tuesday evening,

Pac-Man 99

‘s default online mode resembles the oldest-school version of

Pac-Man

, in terms of chasing ghosts and chomping yellow dots on the series’ earliest black-and-blue maze. Like

Tetris 99

before it,

Pac-Man 99

plays a lot like its traditional source material, only with fields of online players interfering with each other’s progress. You send attacks to other players’ fields (visible on the screen’s edges as smaller windows) by eating power pellets and then devouring vulnerable ghosts. They do the same to you.

This game’s twist is a new idea for the series. Your attacks send waves of “jammer Pac-Men” to opponents’ fields (visible on the screen’s edges as smaller windows), but those don’t cause

direct

harm. Instead, these transparent Pac shadows litter the game’s mazes as speed bumps, and players must maneuver Pac-Man through their quicksand lumps to make them disappear. One or two jammers are tolerable; six or more seem like a real headache, especially when Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde pin you in a corner.

Thus, success in

Pac-Man 99

will hinge in part on plotting your maze movement in a way that lets you safely clear jammers and keep your speed high. Sending attacks to other players, meanwhile, requires creating “ghost trains,” which have been lifted from the

Pac-Man Championship Edition

series. Set up these screen-filling series of ghosts without accidentally bumping into them, then eat a power pellet so you can gobble dozens of ghosts in neatly arranged rows.

Players also get access to three selectable “boost” modes, dubbed “strength,” “speed,” and “train,” and while they seem self-explanatory enough, we’ve yet to see when and how they’re toggled in the game or whether they make the basic act of ghost-dodging more fun or not.

Ninten-does what Stadia doesn’t quite

Weirdly, this isn’t the only online

Pac-Man

concept to launch in the past year.

Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle

debuted on Google Stadia in October 2020, but its 64-player take revolves around much larger fields of dots where players can bump into each other. In my testing experience, Mega Tunnel Battle can prove laggy and jumpy when other online players’ connections degrade for any reason. Since

Pac-Man 99

keeps each player in their own isolated playfield, it may neatly sidestep such issues.

I’ve previously lauded

Tetris 99

as

an ingenious, challenge-boosting twist to the familiar

Tetris

formula

. While we weren’t necessarily

as hot on

Super Mario 35

‘s similar twist

the following year, it was a fun lark—albeit a temporary one, since Nintendo shut that game’s servers down on March 31, the same day it delisted


Super Mario 3D All-Stars


. (We hardly knew ye, Mario.)

Pac-Man 99

looks like it hews closer to the

Tetris 99

side of things, which bodes well for the free-with-subscription game launching later today.

Pac-Man 99 trailer


Listing image by Nintendo / Bandai Namco

Author: Sam Machkovech

Source: Sam Machkovech.” Nintendo Switch continues the retro battle royale trend with Pac-Man 99″. Retrieved From https://arstechnica.com/?p=1755026

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