I did say I’d review Pac-Man 256 if I was still playing it after a week. In news that should shock absolutely nobody, I’m still playing it after a week. Guess that means I have to write a review, which I sort of already did. What I can review, however, are the bits of Pac-Man 256 you actually have to pay for.
That being said, Pac-Man 256 a rough title to review, simply and purely because a review is intended to be a guide to whether or not something is worth buying, and the practical reality is that if you want to, you can very easily download Pac-Man 256 for your Android, iOS or Kindle Fire device right now. Really.
iOS users, click here.
Android users, click here.
Kindle Fire users, click here.
Yeah, I’ll still be here when you’re done. You can assess whether or not the high score chasing element of Pac-Man 256 is enough to entice you far more by playing than I could through telling you whether or not to play, I reckon, although if you do need some tips on maximising your score, I’ve already written about that here.
The thing is, that goes exactly as far as the “free” elements of the game extend to. Based on detailed analysis, which is to say rough guesswork, the six free credits you get will last you around six minutes, at which point you’re another four minutes away from your first additional free credit.
This is where Pac-Man 256’s iAP model comes in. Having spent the dough on the $9.99 Unlimited Credits pack, that’s something I can review, because it does change how you can and do play Pac-Man 256.
First of all, ignore the $1.29 Temporary 12 Credit Boost. It’s essentially an intelligence test to prove that old maxim about fools and their money. There’s more than enough iAP-led games out there — generally the ones with “OF WAR” suffixes advertised by chesty models who seem to have accidentally left most of their warlike clothing behind the day they were shooting the advert — to prove that particular maxim.
The $9.99 Unlimited Credits pack is, however, really clever iAP, because while it’s not exactly “cheap” in the app sense of the word, it represents both solid value and a good way forward for iAP games. We’ve been down the bad side of the retro-title-reimagined fence with games like EA’s Tetris Blitz and Dungeon Keeper, so it’s genuinely refreshing to see a game model that essentially says that it’s fine and fun to play for no money, but if you do make a one-time payment, you can play the game in an entirely new way.
Why would I say that? It’s largely because removing the credit restraint while keeping the single-continue model intact allows you to refine your strategy, build up credits for powerups and make larger and larger pellet chains, all of which leads to new ways to improve your high score in ways that wouldn’t be impossible with just the free credits, but would be both very hard and extremely time consuming. The classic iAP approach here is to pay to skip time or pay to “win”, and Pac-Man 256 merrily skips past both approaches to say, in essence, that you can pay for the full game, and if you do, you get to have the full amount of fun with it.
It avoids the “pay to win” trap as well, because it’s still hard, still random, still sometimes unfair, and yet still quite compelling to play. Above and beyond the desire to simply justify the $9.99 purchase, I’m finding it a great go-to game inbetween writing articles or waiting for trains or cups of coffee or whatnot, because I could always use a higher score. I’ve seen some truly scary high scores to beat, too, although there’s no sign of the worldwide high score table that only seemed to be part of the game when it first launched. Maybe it melted. Maybe Pac-Man ate it.
I do have one complaint to throw at 3 Sprockets/Hipster Whale/Namco Bandai, and that’s in the fact that paying for the unlimited credits pack doesn’t entirely remove the advertising aspect. You can earn the credits needed to upgrade your powerups by meeting the usual “Do X of Y” type objectives, but you can also do so by clicking on a flashing button that plays the same unskippable ads that the free version offers a free credit for.
You’ve already had my $9.99, so sneaking more ads in by the back door feels just a little greedy, Sprocket-Whale-Bandai types. Not good.
I can’t and won’t tell you if a high score game based on a stone cold retro classic is going to tickle those particular parts of your brain that fizz when a game gets its addictive hooks into you. It’s pretty clear that it’s got its hooks into me, and it works very well even with unlimited credits to kill time for short gaming sessions, or for more in-depth play if you’ve got a high score to chase. Now, if you’ll excuse me, those ghosts aren’t going to eat themselves.