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In 2019, Tetris 99 for Nintendo Switch Online members mashed up an all-time classic game with battle royale mechanics to give a fresh and enjoyable experience that we never knew we needed, and in 2020 Super Mario Bros. 35 followed suit (albeit for a limited time). This year we got a surprise new remixed classic game, this time featuring our favorite yellow pizza puck, Pac-Man, in the form of PAC-MAN 99.

This is going to be a pretty short review, because PAC-MAN 99's core setup is the same as the other two games previously mentioned. There are more details to learn about and keep track of in terms of the mechanics, but there are plenty of guides online (including a bunch of very thorough ones on NintendoLife). I much prefer to learn through trial and error,  though, and after less than an hour of learning the mechanics I was able to win a round at #1. I'm very much a Pac-Man series vet, though, and I expect gamers less familiar with the iconic gameplay will have much more of a learning curve. As with the previous 99 battle royale games, in this one you can choose which types of players to target, and as usual I couldn't really be bothered to pay much attention to that. In this game there's another set of options you can choose from that provide trade-offs to your character (e.g. increased attack but slower speed), but I couldn't be much bothered futzing around with those either. Steady and solid pellet munching should get you pretty far, and in particular I soon realized that timing when to grab the fruit and the power pellets was key.

I've played a lot of Pac-Man games in my time, so the variations in this game are fun but they're a lot like the Championship Edition mechanics and so they don't make me particularly compelled to sink a whole lot of time into it. This game's also much more obviously intended to generate revenue for Bandai Namco, as each skin is paid DLC, unlike Tetris 99's slew of free and limited event skins. The limited-time events are what kept me coming back to Tetris 99 regularly, so without that hook and without free multiplayer with friends, as enjoyable as my experience with the game was I probably won't be picking it up again anytime soon. I'm sure more competitive players will get a lot more mileage than I, though, and I expect the game will be pretty successful and have a long tail. Overall I'd probably rank PAC-MAN 99 just a bit lower than the previous Pac-Man game I've blogged about, Pac-Man 256, although lord knows that there are many, many more Pac-Man games to try out... eventually!


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