The Pac is back and he’s ready to redeem himself after that ghastly Ghostly Adventure game. This time he’s munched his way on to mobile devices with the free-to-play Pacman 256. But don’t grumble, this game is actually good, and it’s one of the most generous and sensible examples of free-to-play I’ve ever seen!
Pacman 256 goes back to the series’ roots; it’s just you, a maze, pellets, coins and the ghosts…and the notorious killscreen. Oh, and this time the maze is endless, too.
With a slight flick of your thumb you can send Pacman in a direction of your choosing, chomping pellets as he goes. Your main goal is to accumulate points, coins and eat some pesky ghosts, of course. This isn’t your standard Pacman game, though, some great new additions bring variety to the series’ standard formula.
As I previously mentioned, the infamous killscreen makes a return, this time posing an impending danger as it chases you all the way up the level. Get flustered or stuck and it’ll swallow you whole, meaning it’s game over. But even if you can outrun it, you’ll still face a stiff challenge from the ghosts. That’s right, Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde all make a comeback, and this time they have brought reinforcements. Spunky, Funky, Sue and Glitchy up the enemy count and each have their own little surprises for you – watch out for Spunky, he can be very difficult to see!
Powerups bring even more changes to the classic Pacman game play, giving you various weapons to use against your enemies. Meeting the game’s various pellet milestones rewards you with new powerups such as the bomb, freeze, giant Pacman and the powerful laser. You can pick any three to take into the game with you, so there’s plenty of strategy to devise if you’re that kind of player. Powerups appear at random intervals throughout the game, giving you a fighting chance if you can make your way over to them. The purists may scoff, but zapping ghosts with a laser protruding from Pacman’s mouth is incredible fun! You can even level up your powerups with coins you have picked up in game, though you’ll have a short cool-down each time you do.
If you’re running low on credits, and need a quick fix for that cool upgrade, you can opt to watch a short advertisement -but it is entirely up to you. Pacman 256 doesn’t shove IAP’s down your throat, in fact you’d be hard pressed to even find them if you aren’t looking for them.
At the start of the game you’ll be given six tokens to play with, if you die you lose one token, but you can also use another to continue your round. Running out of tokens means you’ll either need to wait for more tokens to generate, at a rate of one token per ten minutes, or you can buy tokens, instead. Twelve tokens will run you about 69p ($0.99), and unlimited tokens about £5 ($7). Only the most determined players will ever need to stump up the cash to continue playing, however. If you want a permanent coin doubler you can pick it up for a few pounds, too. As far as IAP’s go, you really can’t argue, this is a fair approach to an often controversial revenue generation method.
Pacman 256 gives the franchise a much-needed kick up the backside, and serves as a reminder of how much fun munching dots in a maze can be. You don’t need to reinvent a franchise to reinvigorate it, although you apparently do if there’s a cartoon series involved. Let’s forget Ghostly Adventure ever happened, shall we?