App of the week: Pac-Man 256

Pac-Man 256

Leave it Hipster Whale, the same studio that brought the world Crossy Road, to successfully reimagine Toru Iwatani’s classic Pac-Man for mobile devices. Released this week on Android and iOS, Pac-Man 256 is game that anyone who has played the original should try out.

Like Hipster Whale’s original smash hit, Pac-Man 256 is an endless runner. Our pizza-inspired hero is placed in a maze that has no end, and it’s up to the player to help him navigate as far as possible before perishing to one of the countless ghosts that patrols each labyrinth.

In just one of the game’s many inspired flourishes, what forces the player to keep moving forward is the original Pac-Man’s legendary 256 error. A veritable wave of ASCII inspired characters will emerge from the bottom of the screen, their proximity to Pac-Man announced by an ominous drone. Let them touch Pac-Man and it’s game over.

Making matters worse is the new improved intelligence of the iconic spectres that stand in Pac-Man’s way. Pinky, for instance, lies in wait for the player and then quickly swoops in to try and take her out.

Thankfully, Pac-Man has a completely new set of wacky tools to combat all these new threats. With each death, the player makes progress towards a new upgrade. Unlock an upgrade, and it will randomly be  sprinkled throughout the current maze. The first one the player unlocks is a temporary laser that lets Pac Man turn any spectre in to a pile of ash.

Pac-Man creator Tori Iwantani with the original design documents for the game.

Pac-Man creator Toru Iwatani with the original design document for the game.

If there’s a downside to the game it’s that it is a freemium title. Each time the player starts a game they’re required to pay a credit. Likewise, if you die and want to continue your run, you’re also required to pay a credit.

When you download the game, you start with six credits. Depending on one’s skill level, these can run out in the blink of the eye. Replenishing these credits is done in one of three ways: a) you can buy a pack of 12 credits for $1.19, b) you can wait in increments of 10 minutes for a single credit to replenish, c) you can also watch a lengthy video ad to add one credit to your bank.

Even by the standards of most free-to-play games this is a pretty egregious system. Thankfully, publisher Bandai Namco and Hipster Whale have included an option to purchase unlimited credits for $8.99. It’s a premium, to be sure, but at least you can play the game to your heart’s content.

Download Pac-Man 256 from the Amazon App StoreGoogle Play Store and iTunes App Store.