PAC-MAN + Tournaments Review

Waka waka waka waka waka waka waka waka waka waka.  This is all you will be hearing once you install PAC-MAN + Tournaments.  There are no fancy upgrades to the visuals to be found here.  Namco delivers the full arcade experience for free, all 256 levels. It also includes demoralizing statistics of how many levels that have been completed on the current credit.  Good luck getting higher than 10/256.  Namco tries to make the experience easier by making the game default into its “Normal” mode where the game moves at a much slower pace and more lives are given.  Those looking for an authentic experience will prefer to dig through the game’s options and choose “Arcade” mode.

Like other Pac-Man apps Namco has released on mobile devices, users have the ability to choose between a “joystick” and “swipe” control method.  Either way, the player will find himself swiping away at the screen hoping that his swipe will register in the correct direction.  The virtual joystick option requires too much precision that is hard to deliver without any tactile feedback.  It should be noted that the joystick option is only available when using the app in the portrait position.  This is just a matter of preference but I found PAC-MAN + Tournaments to be much more enjoyable using the swipe controls in the landscape position with my thumbs which felt reminiscent of playing on a physical controller.  

As the name of the app implies, tournaments have been added to the game.  This is not a clone of the features that can be found in the excellent PAC-MAN Championship Edition DX.  The tournaments consist of newly designed levels and essentially feel like unofficial sequels to the game.  Each tournament lasts two weeks.  In that time players can improve their scores, the only catch being that it costs 1 token to enter a tournament each time.  Tokens are the game’s virtual currency that can be purchased with microtransactions and can also be used to continue a standard PAC-MAN game.  The game does provides the player with enough tokens to get a taste of what the tournaments offer.  Unfortunately, there does not appear to be a way to play mazes created for previous tournaments.  While there may not be a point in playing those mazes once a tournament has finished, they do offer a fresh change over the standard game.
The enjoyment of an arcade game such as PAC-MAN is being able to brag about how good you are at the game.  Leaderboards for each difficulty the game provides are present.  Viewing the leaderboards quickly shows that most people will not deviate from playing the default “Normal” mode.  This is disappointing for players who would prefer to play at the arcade difficulty.  My pathetically low scores are scoring much higher on the leaderboards than they should be.  

The app also includes achievements which are brutally difficult.  The achievement “Be Like Billy” is awarded when a player completes all 256 levels of the game.  This is obviously a tribute to Billy Mitchell who scored the first perfect game of Pac-Man.  Maybe this achievement is just a joke, but it makes me question who Namco was targeting with this app, professional Pac-Man players or a casual audience.
The controls may take away from the enjoyment of PAC-MAN + Tournaments but at its core it remains a solid Pac-Man experience.  The additional features provide an incentive to continue playing and may improve as more people continue to install the app.  

Final score: 4/5
Device used: Samsung Galaxy S3

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