There’s no denying the amount of success that the relatively new “battle royale” genre has enjoyed over the past few years. From Fortnite to the more recent Fall Guys, it’s become a staple of contemporary gaming that’s started to invade the retro scene. Tetris 99 decided to take Alexey Pajitnov‘s masterpiece and put a 99 player spin on things. Super Mario Bros. 35 sees you duking it out on the 8-bit battlefields against 34 other Marios. It was only inevitable that the arcade legend Pac-Man would see his very own battle royale game. After all, it was him who helped launch video gaming, as we know, into the mainstream.
While you may never be as good at Pac -Man as Billy Mitchell (controversy aside), you can prove that you’re the best dot muncher out of 64 in Pac -Man Mega Tunnel Battle. The game borrows a similar aesthetic to Bandai Namco’s most recent Pac titles, such as Pac -Man Championship Edition. This Stadia exclusive (for now) sees the player going head to head across 64 interconnected mazes. Like Championship Edition and its respective sequel, Mega Tunnel Battle adds brand new mechanics to spice up a tried-and-true formula. Brand new powerups and the ability to spy on neighboring boards (much like being able to see what your competition is doing in Super Mario Bros.35). Help make this a unique experience beyond just taking the arcade game and giving it a dose of wide-scale competition. Par for the course with this genre, you’re also able to spectate and customize your avatar to your liking.
There is a catch to this, unfortunately. As mentioned earlier, this one’s a Stadia exclusive for the time being and currently costs $19.99. Gamers can play Mega Tunnel Battle through Chromecast via the Chrome browser or any Stadia compatible mobile device. I won’t be that guy who makes a joke involving Stadia’s limited install base. However, I have my fingers crossed to see this one leap to more traditional platforms soon.
As a franchise, Pac Man is somewhat notorious for straying quite far from its arcade roots. Heck, the “official” sequel didn’t make its way to consoles until the early ’90s, and it’s a point and click adventure of all things. The character found some success in the 3D platforming arena with the Pac Man World trilogy and a kart-racing spinoff. Pac and Roll for the Nintendo DS made substantial use of the handheld’s touch screen capabilities to plop the yellow fellow into something akin to Marble Madness. Pac Pix had you drawing Pac-Men with the DS’ stylus to take down ghosts and boss monsters. Pac Man Stories, however, might be the craziest departure yet. Hold onto your power pellets, folks. (Actually, don’t. You’re not going to need those or even a controller for this one!)
No, last year did not make you go completely insane, and you’re not dreaming. Pac Man Stories is a free app that was released back in 2018 for use with Amazon Alexa. Technically, this isn’t a video game but still worth noting just how bizarre it is. Pac Man Stories is a “choose your own adventure” deal aimed at very young children. It strives to teach them the same morality lessons you learned back in kindergarten. Strangely, it doesn’t even appear to tie in with the short-lived Pac-Man and The Ghostly Adventures animated series. It was another attempt at introducing the beloved character to a brand new generation. While a cute concept, I can’t imagine anyone reading this will get a ton of mileage out of it unless they happen to have children. I will give props to that trailer, though, as it nods to just how Toru Iwatani came up with the character. (The story about a removed slice of pizza creating the character’s shape is, in fact, right!)
So, what’s in store for the future? If Pac-Man Stories is anything to go by, it would appear that the sky is the limit. Regardless of the middle-aged mascot’s future holds a Pac-Man World remastered trilogy or ( help us all) a dating simulator. One thing’s for sure- he’ll probably be around for another 40 years in some form.