Not content with celebrating his 30th birthday as well as enjoying a smartphone-based revival, Namco’s plucky yellow puck-muncher is back in force, and Liberty Games were on-hand at this year’s EAG Expo (the yearly trade show for the amusement industry) to see for ourselves!
First off we saw Pac-Man Battle Royale – a game we actually sell the little brother to – but this time in a much bigger enclosure. It follows along the same lines, up to four players turn Pac-Canibal to devour each other and move on to the next round. This is certainly an interesting twist on the Pac-Man game concept, and works so much better as a multi-player game than the original Pac-Man. We even get to see him in different colours!
Next up we have Pac-Man Basket – a basketball hoop-shooter similar to many others on the market. Although the colour scheme used was definitely pac-inspired, and the machine produced some very familiar sounding wacca-wacca noises, that’s about where the connection ends.
Unfortunately the basketballs didn’t even look like Pac-Man, which was a bit of a disappointment, and the Pac-Man on the top flash of the machine looks like he has just stubbed his toe. However if you love basketball and love Pac-Man then you wouldn’t go far wrong with this.
Up next is Pac-Man Ghost Bowling, which is eerily reminiscent of Pac-Man basketball in that it feels like the franchise has just been tacked on to an existing arcade game. Actually scrap that, it doesn’t just feel like it, that’s exactly what has happened. Still that said the game is fun enough, if you like that sort of thing, however it isn’t exactly bringing the yellow fellow into a brand new genre-defining game.
Still once again there are a few familiar wacca-wacca noises that emanate from the machine from time to time so we’ll give a few points for that.
After seeing one of his video game counterparts make the move into the air hockey business, it can’t have been long until the video game industry’s new corporate play-thing made the move himself!
Still this time there is more that a tin of yellow paint involved in this transformation, Pac-Man Smash is actually a really great game!
Sure we’re not actually sure what it has to do with Pac-Man (a Pac-Man air hockey puck would have been such an easy win), but then as this game is so much fun we’ll let him off. The play-field of the table is marked out like a Pac-Man game field, but that’s pretty much where the similarity ends.
The fun really comes when multi-puck mode gets going, with ten mini-pucks being released onto each side of the table, which is surprisingly entertaining – want to see for yourself? Check out these overly enthusiastic teens.
So now you’ve played basket-ball, gone bowling, played air hockey – what if you want a souvenir to remind you of your pac-tastic day at the arcade? Well don’t worry, he’s got your back there too.
If you’ve got the skills, then you and the crane arm can bring you home your very own Pac-Man and matching ghosts, just don’t blame us for any loss of earning incurred through trying to grab that last blinky that just won’t budge.
So there we have it – proof that a license is never really dead so long as you get your thinking hat on. That said most of these games are generally fun, and the bright Pac-Man yellow (which really needs to be a colour in the paint catalogues) does help to attract the eye, which is at the end of the day what the arcade business is all about.
Written by: Stuart Kerr