I feel a bit like I'm going in circles, haha. Along with recently playing yet another Picross game, I've also been playing yet another Pac-Man game. In this case, the game has the utterly generic and uninformative title PAC-MAN, and aside from the barebones official webpage and entries on the Google Play store site and the Apple App Store, I haven't been able to find any info on it. Apparently the game released in 2020, but otherwise everything I know about the game has come from my own experience playing it.

The game apparently has 100+ levels, and I played through about a third of them. The levels start off quite small with only a couple of ghosts, but after a while they become more like the size of the original classic. Each level offers up three challenges, such as "defeat Blinky three times" or "avoid Pinky" or "get the bonus fruit" or "finish the level with a score of XYZ", and there are also three powerups that you unlock as you progress. The powerups just make it easier to defeat ghosts, and there are also some stage elements, such as sections that speed up, slow down, or teleport your Pac-Man.

There isn't really much motivation to make progress in the game or complete all the missions or tackle the limited-time event stages. At a certain point early on you unlock the original Pac-Man game, but otherwise the tickets you earn just unlock useless skins for Pac-Man, the ghosts, the onscreen joystick, etc. The game offers three choices of controls, but the swiping gestures were the only ones that really worked for me. Pac-Man (2020) has a stamina system in the form of five hearts (i.e. lives) that recharge over time, but the real drag is the nearly incessant requirement to watch ads. Ads pop up after virtually every stage you complete, and it's impossible to get into any sort of groove when you're constantly being interrupted. I'm all for mobile games making some money, but these are the most obtrusive ads I've seen in a mobile game in quite a while.

Overall this was a pretty standard and only mildly enjoyable release. Pac-Man (2020) is a paint by numbers affair and doesn't really offer anything compelling, even for long-time fans of the yellow hockey puck. Even though I wasn't a huge fan of my previous Pac-Man game, Pac-Man 99, at least it had a couple of unique ideas. This one feels generic and ho-hum all around, and the incessant ads and required Internet connection certainly don't help things either. Although I was playing a stage a day for a while, I don't really feel compelled to spend much more time with it. Here's hoping my next Pac-Man game is a little more interesting.


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