Game Reviews

Pac-Man 256 - Endlessly replayable dot-munching

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| Pac-Man 256
Pac-Man 256 - Endlessly replayable dot-munching
| Pac-Man 256

Hipster Whale professes a love of old arcade games, but I'm not so sure.

Just as its Crossy Road transformed Frogger into some kind of nightmarish endless fever dream for the protagonist, Pac-Man 256 feels a lot like the backdrop to a certain yellow dot-muncher's fitful sleep, with him clearly having eaten far too much cheese.

It takes place beyond the infamous level 256 glitch in an endless, unforgiving maze chock full of ghosts. Pac-Man has to keep eating until his inevitable demise, pursued all the while by the usual gang of spectres.

He also has to outrun the glitch itself, which relentlessly marches onwards, determined to take our rotund yellow hero into blissful pixel oblivion.

Munch bunch

If that all sounds quite tough, not everything is against Pac-Man in his endless task. Beyond the skill within your digits, Pac-Man has further assistance in the form of power-ups.

You get the usual power pellets, of course, which temporarily turn ghosts blue, enabling Pac-Man to wolf them down. But the more you play, the more additional items are unlocked, like bombs, lasers, and a tornado.

Up to three items can be added to your loadout prior to play, and they make a world of difference once you're deep into the maze.

Without them, lengthy survival is extremely tough. Slightly irritatingly, then, power-ups are on a credits system, but this can at least be bought out entirely, as noted in the IAP section glued elsewhere to this page.

Going dotty

Really, then, 256 is an endless Pac-Man, which is nice enough but hardly essential. What propels the game into must-have territory is some really smart thinking regarding scoring.

As outlined in Mark's strategy guide, there's a surprising amount of depth, largely centred around learning ghost movement patterns (which are very different from those in the original Pac-Man), bonuses, and multipliers.

For the casual player, this won't matter a jot, but it affords 256 enough depth to keep the hardcore arcade crowd (and veteran Pac-Man fans) around for the long haul.

It'll be tough trying to figure out how to best juggle your time between 256's chunky isometric goodness, and the neon-infused time-attack thrills of the also excellent Pac-Man Championship Edition DX.


Which is all to say that Pac-Man 256 is a great game. It's respectful to the source material but builds upon it to make for a more rewarding and compelling mobile experience.

The business model might initially irk but you can buy yourself out of the credits system at any point. And even the gamble evident in most endless games - the huge amount of investment you eventually need to best a really high score - is lessened somewhat by Pac-Man 256 offering a much tougher prospect than the likes of Crossy Road.

Had you marched into Pocket Gamer Towers six months ago and decreed 2015 would be the year we'd all have the two best-ever Pac-Man games nestled on our iOS and Android devices, we'd have called you nuts.

But it's great to be proven wrong, with Namco having unleashed DX and now lobbing 256 into the mix. More, please.

Pac-Man 256 - Endlessly replayable dot-munching

Gaming's roundest hero gets a second great game for his second wind. Very different from DX, and in many ways just as good. Get them both