Pac Man 99 is a pretty interesting title. It really arrived out of the blue to jump on the whole 99 game craze and that was a really good idea. One, it helps to bring some more attention to Pac Man and two, it’s just a fun format. It’s definitely not going to come quite close to taking down Tetris 99 as the ultimate game of this genre without some big updates but the gameplay lends itself really well to this style.
When you boot up the game you are taken right to the menu where you can jump into the main mode. Essentially what happens is the game starts off with normal Pac Man gameplay although you’ll notice that the level changes the position of pellets in each match although there are only a few variations. When you eat a ghost you summon a ghost pac to another player’s screen. If you touch the ghost then it slows you down a little bit giving the ghosts time to catch you. You will need to get to a power pellet to be safe here.
There is also the signature fruit that will appear on the level but it has a different feature than usual. In this game touching the fruit will automatically respawn all of the pellets and power pellets. It also brings back the mini white pellets which you can use to summon a bunch of extra ghosts. Why would you do that? Well, they all chain to one ghost so then when you eat him, you can summon over a dozen ghosts to another player’s screen. It’s really worth building your playstyle around the ghosts.
The game also feels a lot easier than Mario 35 or Tetris 99 but it probably depends on how familiar you are with each game. For example, I got several victories on the first day with Pac Man but never got one on Mario or Tetris. Of course I do pride myself on being a bit of Pac expert so that’s something to keep in mind for sure. Heh heh. So the gameplay is a lot of fun and since it’s effectively classic Pac Man gameplay at its core there is a lot of replay value here. As you last longer into the match you will also meet red Pac Mans which are fatal if you touch them so make sure you stay away.
Technically there is a way to survive a single blow but I’m not sure if it’s luck or something. The game makes a shiny sound effect and you live so maybe you are always allowed 1 hit but I didn’t really test this. I just stay away from them as much as possible. When you use a power pellet then they will stay in place so one of the big things to consider is that you don’t freeze them in a position where they block your exits. If you do that then you will really end up being sunk.
My only real problem with the game is that everything is hidden behind a paywall. Tetris did it right where you could unlock a bunch of levels and emblems for free while locking the modes behind a paywall. The issue here is that Pac locks literally everything behind paywalls. There are 0 unlockables in the entire game which seems a bit excessive. Surely at least the emblems could have been something you could unlock as you progress through the levels right? It just feels like the game is being a bit cheap.
What this means is that you literally only have one mode of play but absolutely 0 rewards for playing more than 1 game. You have to purely play to have a good time but with only 1 level to play over and over even the most intense Pac Man fans will likely get bored soon and then just move on to the classic game where you at least have a high score to chase after. Now that’s the way to go.
Still, when you consider that the game is completely free that does help matters. The soundtrack is pretty classic although it’s got a bit of a techno vibe to it the way that Tetris 99 has. The graphics are standard but they look pretty smooth so I’m definitely on board with it. The game wants to look like the original title after all and it captures that style well.
Overall, Pac Man 99 is a good game. I do think it could have been a whole lot better though. The title is playing it extremely safe by not having anything other than the most basic mode but maybe they will expand that at some point. Honestly they could have a lot of fun with it too like allowing you to play as the ghosts or something. Surely changing the character model can’t be a big hurdle since it’s working with fairly retro effects. Either way if you have a Switch you should definitely check this out since it’s for free. You’ll have a good time for a while at least.