Monday, June 3, 2019

Mobile Game Review: Pac Man 256

In an age where smart phones are in nearly everyone's hands (and almost definitely in the hands of people under a certain age range), mobile games are big business; Konami, Capcom, Sega and Nintendo all have a mobile game division in their companies, and they were some of the biggest game developers in the 80s and 90s.

However, if you've been playing video games as long as I have (since 1989), mobile games have a bad reputation, and for good reason.  You see, mobile games have one major obstacle to sucking in people like myself; control. Touch screens lack the precision control that a keyboard, mouse or controller have, so certain types of games are difficult on mobile devices unless they offer Bluetooth controller support.

And that's where this new series comes in; I download a game, play it for at least a week, and let you know if they're worth your time.  I'll be judging on a few criteria; control, graphical fidelity, sound, and frequency of ads, if any, and fun factor. And then, I'll round it up to whether it's worth your time and money. And with that, welcome to Mobile Game Reviews.

Today's game is something that I saw on advertised on the Google Play store in the popular games tab; Pac Man 256.  The idea for Pac Man 256 is that it's based on the infamous 256 glitch; basically, if you reach level 256, a bug is caused by the calculation of the number of fruit to draw rolling over to zero. The code attempts to draw 256 fruit–236 more than it was designed for–resulting in the maze being corrupted.And that's what Pac Man 256 is designed around; the glitch is chasing you, and if it touches you, it kills you.  It is your task to avoid the encroaching glitch and still gather dots, fruits, power pellets and any power ups you can and achieve the highest score possible before you die.

Control: Pac Man 256 is built around around touch screen controls. You're swiping up down, left and right to move, and tapping for menus.  It's as accurate as any mobile game can get and any mistake made feels like your fault, which is a hard thing for even some console or PC game to hammer out.

Graphical Fidelity: Pac Man 256 has a faux retro style; everything's in 3D, but it's done in a way that's befitting of a Pac Man game.  You can earn themes for the game, which changes the graphics from the basic pixelated design for Pac Man, to something more smoothed out, to the Pac Mania style, to Pac Man CEDX's style, and more.

Sound: Pac Man 256 sounds like a Pac Man game.  All the sounds and music sound like a remixed version of their original sounds from the arcade games and all the successful ports.

Ads: Pac Man 256 only has ads if you want to see them. However, seeing them gives you extra coin rewards you can use to purchase new skins for your game, upgrades to your power ups, etc, but you can also spend real money on those things, so ads don't have to be a thing at all for you.

Fun Factor: Pac Man 256 takes the classic Pac Man formula and ads in the "glitch wall chasing you" mechanic, creating a very fun experience. However, there are loads of power ups in addition to the basic power pellet that lets you eat ghosts in your arsenal.  You can get things a laser to blast ghosts in front of you, a stealth ability that lets you slip past them, a giant upgrade to crush the ghosts, and many more. There's so many options for you to make your way to the high score, and new power ups are unlocked over time.

Final Analysis: Pac Man 256 is easy to learn, but difficult to master, just like the original game.  But it's a great time waster if you've got a few minutes to an hour to kill while waiting on something else. A great mobile experience, overall.

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