Let’s break down Pac-Man 99, the latest retro battle royale game on Nintendo Switch.
First Tetris, then Super Mario, and now Pac-Man: Nintendo Switch continues its streak of “retro battle royale” video games this week by asking a remarkably weird question. What would Pac-Man be like if 99 people played the game at the same time, and only one pellet muncher emerged victorious?
The new game, creatively titled Pac-Man 99, arrives on Wednesday, March 7, as a free download for paying subscribers to the Nintendo Switch Online service. Its resemblance to 2019’s Tetris 99 and 2020’s Super Mario 35 is no accident, since it has been designed with the same “NintendoWare Bezel Engine” used in those other games—and that framework appears to cleverly juggle simultaneous sessions of competitive Pac-Man.
Jammers, ghost trains, and boosts
As seen in the game’s surprise reveal on Tuesday evening, Pac-Man 99‘s default online mode resembles the oldest-school version of Pac-Man, in terms of chasing ghosts and chomping yellow dots on the series’ earliest black-and-blue maze. Like Tetris 99 before it, Pac-Man 99 plays a lot like its traditional source material, only with fields of online players interfering with each other’s progress. You send attacks to other players’ fields (visible on the screen’s edges as smaller windows) by eating power pellets and then devouring vulnerable ghosts. They do the same to you.