You really have to hand it to Namco Bandai for once again reinventing the wheel. Pac-Man made his pellet-hungry debut 30 years ago, yet the company has created a brand new arcade title set to enhance the original game’s competitive qualities tenfold.
Pac-Man Battle Royale is a cocktail style arcade game that allows up to 4-players to compete head-to-head. Each player controls their own colored Pac-Man character, across familiar grid stages while eating all the pac-dot cookies you can. This time however, instead of trying to gobble up your blue ghost enemies for arcade supremacy, you’re now trying to eat your competitors.
Once you eat a power pellet, your Pac-Man character will grow in size, putting your opponents in the shoes of the franchise’s fearful ghost. Fleeing like mice, opponents must escape the super-sized Pac-Man, or else they’ll get eaten and lose the round. The only way to counter a giant Pac-Man is to gobble a power pellet yourself, or to eat a fruit piece. This time around, eating fruit will change the layout of the puzzle board, likely saving you from an inconvenient demise (this is also achieved by eating all the pac-dots per stage). Simply put, the last man standing wins all.
During my time playing the game, I was quite impressed by just how addictive Battle Royale became. Players are all huddled around the same screen, each controlling their Pac-Man character across a shared screen. The pressure was on, and the crowds were forming, something easily achieved due to the waist-high flat table.
If competition isn’t all you’re after, you can still try and gobble ghosts and pac-dot cookies as part of a personal points game, but I was focused on crushing my competitors. After the end of every round, a winner is decided, with an ultimate winner chosen at the end. Ultimately, I came in second. Each of the four players are then given a title based on in-game achievements, such eating the most items.
Pac-Man Battle Royale is set to release this fall in arcade form, and hopefully in console form too. Regardless of whether or not an at-home version will release, I think Battle Royale could very well be the game to save arcades in America. Quote me, it’s that fun.