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September 2015 Retro Gaming Article


September 5, 2015 Retro Gaming Blog Post:

Bandai Namco's Pac-Man 256, developed by Hipster Whale, uses the arcade glitch as a foe

Hipster Whale In January, I came across one of those all-in-one multi-game devices shaped like Pac-Man which touted a bonus level 256. Being familiar with Pac-Man's arcade glitch (kill screen), I was curious to know what they had in mind. The packaging even displayed the famed glitch screen on the back. I never got around to buying that little device, but things have a way of coming full circle...

Many of you will be familiar with Hipster Whale's Crossy Road game. It's a brilliant reboot of Frogger as an endless runner. Having received critical acclaim, it's not surprising that Bandai Namco partnered with them to develop Pac-Man 256, a new game for smartphones and tablets - not the same as the all-in-one unit mentioned above.

This modernized version of Pac-Man takes on an isometric view point, adding a thinness to the yellow 80's icon we thought to be round. Like Crossy road, the Pac-Man 256 maze is endless. You still must navigate the maze, avoid/devour the ghosts, and outrun a wave of kill-screen code (the glitch) advancing on you. No problem, right?

Bandai Namco's Pac-Man 256, developed by Hipster Whale Bandai Namco's Pac-Man 256, developed by Hipster Whale One can play the original arcade Pac-Man through emulators, game consoles and the occasional arcade cabinet still surviving out in the wild. It almost begs the question of why we need another variant of Pac-Man. Playing this game answers that question. Hipster Whale added great elements to the traditional game play, leaving enough familiarity while making it fun on today's smartphones and tablets.

It's hard to describe what makes a game successful when other similar ones fail, but it all comes out during play. If the formula were readily apparent, all games would be great. However the translation from a golden age arcade game to modern fun on a tablet is an art form that only a few developers seem to have mastered.

Just as Hipster Whale has done some phenomenal reboots, M2 had brought great additions to the Nintendo 3DS via is updating of Sega classics. As a consumer, my goal is to enjoy as many of these wonderful reboots as I can. You never know when, or if, another gem will appear.

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