If you’re like me and have been playing video games for the better part of the past 25 years, mobile games are a hard sell. Which is why a game like Pac Man 256 is so good. Released by Bandai Namco Entertainment, it is based around the 256 glitch in the original Pac Man arcade game; a glitch where, if you reach level 256, a bug corrupts the entire right half of the maze with seemingly random symbols and tiles, overwriting the values of edible dots, which makes it impossible to eat enough dots to beat the level. The 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 is what the concept that Pac Man 256 is built around; the glitch is corrupting the maze behind you, and run endlessly away from it. If the glitch catches you, you die, but you’re also dealing with all the normal gameplay elements of Pac Man; all the ghosts, all the fruits, all the power pellets. However, you also have extra power ups to assist you along the way.
Graphically, Pac Man 256 has a faux retro style; it looks like the old Pac Man arcade game, but is built around a 3D engine. The characters are voxel based, giving it a very pixelated style of graphics, but there are also different themes that allow you to change the graphics; you can go with different themes such as Pac Mania, Pac Man classic and Pac Man CEDX. On top of that, all the menus and text are large and easy to read.
Pac Man 256 is built around a faux retro sound design; it sounds like an updated version of the Pac Man arcade game’s sound. They sound like a high definition version of the song and sound effects of the original arcade game, which sound perfect on a mobile device speaker. Nothing seems out of place in the Pac Man 256 sound design.
Pac Man 256 has you playing Pac Man in an endless runner style of game; you swipe left, swipe right, swipe up and down to move, collecting dots and power pellets, running from the glitch wall and avoiding the ghosts, or outright destroying them if you’ve got the right power-ups.
Ads and in game purchases
Pac Man 256 is very much ad light, though there are tons of microtransactions available, none of which are required to do well in the game; everything you can buy with real money can be bought with in game currency, which you earn from coins you find in the maze, which are created by the glitches as you run through the maze. However, if you do decide to view ads, you can get those coins faster.
Pac Man 256 is an enjoyable way to kill time when you’ve got nothing else to do. You run through the game, chasing the high score while dealing with the threat of the glitch wall chasing you. And the best part is that it’s free on the Google Play store, and probably the Apple store too. Download it, and you won’t regret it.