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.
Play Time 14h 44m
All Hyrule 34%
Central Hyrule 38%
Master Kohga 53
King Ghoam 54
Level 1-10 All Clear
Level 11-20 All Clear
Level 21-30 8/23 Complete
Level 31-40 6/10 Complete
Level 41-50 0/9 Complete
Level 51-60 0/8 Complete
Divine Beast Challenges 0/7 Complete
Now it’s time to look at the final NES game from the new batch of installments. This one has a pretty cool sounding name. It’s always a little hard to play a SNES game and then go back to NES right after but this one holds its own. There is a bit of a plot which is always nice although good luck remembering it. The gameplay is fairly unique for its time and so when you add all of this together you’ve got yourself a pretty solid experience. I enjoyed the game. It’s definitely quite difficult so you really have to make sure to hone your skills or prepare to rewind quite a lot.
The gameplay is that of a 2D shooter. You are always flying so the idea is to move around a lot so you don’t get tagged by the villains. You can move in any direction but the screen is always scrolling to the right so you want to make sure that you stay in range and ready. If you hang around the edge of the screen too long you may find yourself in a bit of a jam. Your weapon is constantly changing during the game as well. You have a normal blaster, rockets, wave blast, etc. Enemies you fight will drop the various power ups. Due to this, you may not always want to grab the next weapon. Some are clearly better than others if you ask me. For example, I consider the laser to be one of the worst ones. The range is just way too small so no matter how much damage it does you feel like you could do better. That’s why I like the bomb which has a nice explosion or the wave blast. Both of those really put you in a good position to win and at the end of the day that’s really what you’re gunning for right?
There are around 10 levels or so I’d say. Each one has a ton of enemies to get through and then a big boss at the end. You definitely don’t want to underestimate the bosses. Those guys can really fight and it takes a lot of blasts to bring them down. One of the toughest parts is trying to land your hits while they’re throwing out all kinds of attacks. You have to take the hits that you can and then retreat. Rinse and repeat and eventually you’ll have them down. The rewind feature will end up being crucial here though. Without it it’s just very difficult to stay on top of all this.
The graphics are pretty nice. I feel like they’ve aged better than some of the other NES titles I’ve been playing through. It does capture that sci-fi feeling pretty well I’d say. As for the soundtrack, it’s definitely high energy which is good. All in all this game was developed well and the amount of effort here was solid. The game itself is fairly short but that’s to be expected. There isn’t really any replay value here so it’s all just about how much you enjoy the initial playthrough. It’s free if you have the Nintendo Switch Online so you can’t really go wrong there.
There’s not a whole lot more to say about this game just due to how direct it is by nature. It’s very simple to explain and play through. The gameplay is very smooth. I guess one thing I’d say is even if you are avoiding the power ups so you keep your favorite weapon, make sure you pick up any items with an R on them. Those are recovery items which give you some much needed health. Your health goes down real quick here so you really want to grab any extra bits that you can.
Overall, S.C.A.T. is a pretty fun title. I’m not going to say it’s great or anything but I had a good time playing it. It’s the kind of game that doesn’t do anything wrong. I wouldn’t say it’s particularly strong in any area so it’s not as high as it could be but I’d still recommend checking it out. Just remember your fundamentals and you should be able to get through these levels. Now I have to eagerly await the next round of games for Nintendo to add to the service. Hopefully the gap isn’t quite as long this time.
It’s been a while but I finally managed to get a hold of the spinoff which concludes the Professor Layton series. Someday I hope we still get another Layton game though since I don’t want the franchise to end. It’s pretty interesting to be playing as a different character for once. The developers did a good job of making sure that this one also feels very different next to the main games with new mechanics and such. Ultimately the changes aren’t enough to help this game match up to the earlier ones but I did end up liking Katrielle well enough. She isn’t afraid to talk back to the other characters more than the polite Professor Layton would.
This game has more of an episodic plot compared to the main Layton games which had a core story. Still, there is an overarching plot in the background. Katrielle is the head of the Layton Detective Agency although not too many people know about her yet. She has a dedicated assistant named Ernest who is always ready to attend to her every whim. One day she bumps into a dog that she nicknames Sherl. Sherl isn’t pleased about this since he doesn’t think it’s a name for a guy, but Katrielle can’t be bothered with this. She also isn’t particularly impressed with the fact that he can talk. She’ll solve his case at some point but she’s more interested in helping the community with their issues as well as trying to find Layton who vanished many years ago. As Layton’s daughter, Katrielle has dedicated her life to finding him. She’ll have to put that on hold though as she solves various crimes fro theft to murder. Will Katrielle ultimately build an even bigger reputation than Professor Layton?
As with the rest of the series the main gameplay revolves around puzzles. As you go through the campaign the characters will often have various puzzles to challenge you with. There is a lot of variety with the missions as some will be solving a maze, math problems, logic questions, etc. It’s always a pretty fun way to test your mettle. There are well over 100 puzzles but to clear the game you only need to clear around 67. That leaves a lot of room for replay value after you complete the game. You are bale to warp between the various cases and the game even tells you exactly how many puzzles and hint coins are left in each section. I appreciate how thorough the game is in its reporting.
There is one thing that holds this game back compared to the other Layton titles aside from the story though. That’s the puzzles themselves. The movements in the puzzles ask you to be way too specific at times. That’s my main issue, the very first puzzle took me a while to complete as it is. I think they needed to allow for a bit more movements here. I think it may have been something about the transition from 3DS to Switch I imagine. The puzzles occasionally have an issue like that but for the most part the rest are all solid so I would hardly call this a big issue or anything like that.
Katrielle’s mission to find her father is probably the most engaging part of the story so the whole time you’ll be waiting for that to come back. It ties into the ending pretty well with a rather massive twist. It definitely makes you double think everything that has happened previously. If you’ve played River City Girls then you’ll understand the effect. She’s definitely a solid lead even if it feels like she may be taking advantage of Ernest quite a bit. They’re really close friends but she certainly must realize that Ernest doesn’t quite see it that way. I imagine that plot will likely move a bit if we ever get a sequel.
As for the talking dog Sherl, I’m not totally sure how that’ll work out. My personal theory is still that he is Layton because that would be pretty cool. His personality will certainly have changed quite a bit but memory loss will do that to you. Meanwhile Ernest is a solid side character. He’s a little older than Luke so you can take him a little more seriously but puzzles definitely isn’t quite his thing. He’s more helpful to Katrielle in daily tasks and such than with his puzzle skills. Another supporting character is Inspector Hastings who is pretty solid. You do feel like he should have more confidence in Katrielle after a while though since she’s always saving his career and reputation. Without her he would be quite doomed.
The various cases are pretty fun. In general the rest of the supporting cast is a bit on the weak side but since the core characters are good that’s the important thing for the cast. Meanwhile the graphics are definitely really good. I was glad to see the full anime cutscenes make a return here. Level 5 has been very consistent with including those. It always helps to give the game a bit more of a cinematic feel to it and I’m always going to give this kind of thing a thumbs up. The soundtrack has some new tunes and some returning ones. The music is pretty fitting with the game’s setting and keeps things rather peaceful.
The main campaign should take you around 15 hours or so and I think you could probably add another 6-7 in order to complete everything in the game. There’s definitely a lot of content here. Even outside the puzzles and main story experience you have a ton of different minigames. I didn’t really try them out but there are many options. I think there are more in this game than in any of the others which is pretty impressive. Every bit adds up after all.
Overall, This Mystery Journey makes for a pretty solid adventure. The title is a bit surprising since it gives you information on a plot point that you don’t otherwise learn about (or even hinted at) until the final chapter. I suppose it’s always good to have some foreshadowing though. At the end of the day this is a pretty pleasant story with solid characters and good gameplay. I’m not usually much of a fan of puzzles in games but I’ve found that games built around the premise tend to be better. You can’t even compare something like the Layton adventures to Flip’s Twisted World. Now all we need is a Katrielle and Professor Layton crossover and we’ll be set. If you haven’t gotten this game yet then you should definitely check it out.
High Score: 700
Play Time 9h 15m
Gold Bars 370
As it was a free online trial I didn’t really get many stats. If I ever actually buy the game then I’ll update this post.
No real stats this time!
Total score 411