PAC-MAN 256 Reviews

Titanium Dragon
Titanium Dragon
TSA Score for this game: 134
Posted on 21 February 17 at 07:21
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PAC-MAN 256 is a variant on the venerable game of PAC-MAN. It is an endless arcade game where you, controlling PAC-MAN, navigate your way through a maze, collecting dots along the way. Unlike the traditional PAC-MAN game, however, the maze is endless in the vertical direction. Using procedural generation, you must navigate your way upwards, while being pursued by the glitch – a wave of numbers, garbage characters, and darkness which gradually eats up the maze from below.

The title of this game – and the wave of darkness that pursues you – are references to a glitch in the original PAC-MAN game, where the 256th level created a bunch of garbage on the screen, generating an impassible kill-screen.

The game itself is very reminiscient of PAC-MAN, but is somewhat more sophisticated; there’s about twice as many ghost types, each of which have their own behavioral pattern. If PAC-MAN touches any ghost or the wall of glitches at the bottom of the screen, it is game over.

Orange ghosts try to go to the bottom of the screen, choosing to turn towards the horizontal side of the screen that PAC-MAN is on, but always turning down when able.

Red ghosts pursue PAC-MAN endlessly.

Pink Ghosts will remain dormant until PAC-MAN comes into a straight line with them, at which point the ghost will fly towards PAC-MAN at a speed faster than PAC-MAN’s own.

Grey ghosts will sleep until PAC-MAN approaches, then pursue PAC-MAN via the shortest route.

Teal ghosts will circle endlessly around a certain portion of the map, generally a single wall; this can sometimes lead to unexpected behavior, though, as they can also circle the OUTSIDE of the map, which can make them somewhat unpredictable when first spotted.

Green Ghosts always appear in groups of 3-4, and move a bit slower than PAC-MAN in a horizontal back-and-forth manner.

Purple Ghosts are similar to Green Ghosts, but move back and forth much more slowly, but will track PAC-MAN’s horizontal movement; you must move around them reasonably quickly (or use a power-up) to get past them.

Glitch ghosts constantly change color, and occasionally teleport around the battlefield; they pursue the player somewhat slowly.

All of this combines to make the core gameplay a bit different from normal PAC-MAN, but still familiar in many ways.

There are power-ups that you can pick up over the course of the game to kill ghosts with or to do other things. In addition to the basic power pills which turn ghosts blue, slowing them down and allowing you to eat them by running over them (and scoring ever more points by doing so), there are 21 powerups with various other effects. About half of them are variations on the power pill, but with added powers – one leaves a firey trail behind you, another shoots a laser beam in front of PAC-MAN, a third turns all ghosts in a radius around PAC-MAN into cherries, fruit which also appear naturally and give you extra points and a point multiplier.

The other half of the abilities are stranger. There are a couple of abilities that create roving entities that home in on ghosts and kill them for you, but don’t make PAC-MAN himself invincible. There are some abilities which simply slow down ghosts, which are pretty bad abilities, but one of them also gives you the ability to score a bunch of extra points (generally inferior to just killing ghosts, though). One creates static traps around the map to kill ghosts, and a couple allow PAC-MAN to gather dots, power-ups, and fruits in a wider radius.

You may select up to three of these abilities before you start each game, and the abilities are gradually unlocked by eating dots. The abilities can also be levelled-up by spending in-game currency on them, found via random loot drops after games, as well as by completing various tasks that the game gives you (such as eating five apples, or killing 20 ghosts with the tornado power-ups).

While all of this combines to make the game feel like it has a bit more of a point than a standard PAC-MAN game, in the end the game here is very simple, and it starts to get pretty samey after a while. While adding the unlockable power-ups makes the game a bit more interesting, and the various quests add a slight spin on things, the reality is that the game itself is very samey – there is a multiplayer mode and a single-player mode, but both are just endlessly running down a maze which, in the end, doesn’t have all that many variations on it.

It is a kind of mindless game, and it isn’t bad for what it is. But what it is isn’t exactly aiming for the stars; it is an extremely simplistic game, and most people will likely get bored with it pretty quickly. It is ultimately a bit of a time-waster, and probably better suited for mobile gaming than sitting down and playing it at a PC – it is just not a very sophisticated game. As such, it is difficult for me to recommend it.
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TSA Score for this game: 160
Posted on 03 April 17 at 06:50, Edited on 03 April 17 at 07:38
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Pac-Man 256 is a Pac-Man reboot that does not wander as far away from the original as Pac-Man Championship Edition did. The view has been tilted weirdly (as if you were looking over the shoulder of someone playing the original Pac-Man), a ton of skins and powerups (which are unlocked and upgraded via coins collected in-game) have been introduced and the game forces you to move on constantly by destroying the level behind you as time goes by. Apart from those tweaks, it is very much a classic Pac-Man game.
The weird name is probably a reference to the weird obsession with the powers of 2 in the progress system. You need 2, then 4, then 8 and all the way up to 2048 coins to upgrade a power fully. Unless of course it really is the 256th opus in the franchise... Could be, for all I know.


+ Classic Pac-Man gameplay
+ Procedurally generated levels alleviate repetitivity somewhat
+ Quest system gives something to focus on and pushes to try all powerups eventually
+ Great variety of ghost behaviors


- Titled view takes some getting used to
- Some skins are harder to read than others
- Retro sounds that might be grating for some and almost no music
- Progress system requires a LOT of mindless grinding to upgrade all powers (which is required for an achievement)


If you loved the classic Pac-Man and played it a lot, chances are you'll have a good time on this game. You'll surely find what you enjoyed in the old classic, with just enough tweaks to discover new things and to have to rethink old strategies and rewire old reflexes.
If you never enjoyed Pac-Man or only its frantic Championship Edition flavor, stay away from this game.
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