Pac-Man 99, a Pac-Man themed battle royale, is arriving on the Nintendo Switch tomorrow, bringing new life to one of gaming’s oldest mascots.
Nintendo has announced a bold new title for the iconic pellet-muncher in the form of battle royale game Pac-Man 99. Pac-Man is one of the most ubiquitous figures in video game history. His legendary arcade debut is integral to the development of the industry, and no matter how far games have come since his first appearance, fans and developers alike haven’t forgotten the beloved yellow orb. Pac-Man has made numerous appearances across the video game space, showing up as a fighter in Super Smash Bros. and even getting his own Minecraft DLC.
This newest Pac-Man title is a new development for the character but not for Nintendo. The Switch has a bit of a reputation for unconventional battle royales, starting with the infamous Tetris 99. This bizarre puzzler made players compete to be the last one standing in an all-out Tetris war, and it swiftly grew an audience after being offered for free to all Switch owners with an Online subscription. Nintendo was clearly proud of its odd battle royale creation, because since release it’s hosted crossover events in Tetris 99 with several titles, including Super Mario 3D All-Stars and Animal Crossing: New Horizons.
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Now it seems Nintendo (via Nintendo Everything) is hoping to repeat this success with the announcement of Pac-Man 99, which is set to release on Nintendo Switch tomorrow, April 7th. This new title follows the tried and true battle royale formula; 99 players enter, but only one can emerge victorious, becoming what the game refers to as the “Pac-One.” In addition to the iconic pellet-popping action Pac-Man fans know and love, players can awake and defeat chains of sleeping ghosts in order to unleash them on their rivals. They can even pick which opponents to target on the fly; the trailer showcased one targeting mode, which sends sleeping ghosts specifically to players who are in a tough spot and liable to get knocked out soon. Purchasable DLC will also allow players to customize the look of their game.
The timing of this strange new title is likely not a coincidence. March 31st marked the end of Super Mario’s 35th anniversary celebrations. The most prominent casualty of this tragic finale was Super Mario 3D All-Stars, a compilation of three of Mario’s biggest adventures. But March 31st also marked the end of Super Mario 35, another 2D battle royale which saw players racing through the early levels of the original Super Mario Bros. Fans considered Super Mario 35 to be quite a bit of fun, but unfortunately, Nintendo arbitrarily pulled the plug on the service the same day 3D All-Stars vanished from the shelves. With this release coming just a week later, it looks like Nintendo is trying to shove Pac-Man into the Mario-shaped hole it’s left in players’ hearts.
Time will tell if this gambit is successful. The battle royale genre is a considerably crowded market, and while it’s still most heavily associated with shooters like Fortnite and Apex Legends, developers are getting more and more creative with the format. Nintendo’s 2D creations are a key example of that, as is last year’s indie sensation Fall Guys, which is still going strong with a brand new Shovel Knight costume. It’s been a long time since Pac-Man was king of the cabinets, but if Pac-Man 99 takes off, one of gaming’s oldest mascots could live on in a way no one saw coming.
Next: Pac-Man’s Latest Game Is Multi-Maze Multiplayer Mayhem
Pac-Man 99 arrives on Nintendo Switch on April 7th, 2021.
: Nintendo (via Nintendo Everything)
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Peter has been playing video games ever since he was a child, pulling his chair up to the TV so he could hold the GameCube controller for Wind Waker. Video games have been a vital part of his life ever since. They’ve been an important piece of his academic career as well; at the University of Redlands, where he studied Creative Writing and Theater, he once submitted a philosophy paper on the video game Soma. Today, in addition to his freelance work for Screen Rant, Peter spends most of his time blogging, playing Dungeons & Dragons, and, of course, playing video games. He believes that video games are an important and oft overlooked medium for telling stories, as well as an excellent medium for having fun. His favorite video game is still Wind Waker, the one that started it all, and he credits the fun he had with that game as the reason he’s here writing for Screen Rant today.
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