Pac-Man 256 bursts onto the big screen via Apple TV


Chasing ghosts was never this much fun.
Chasing ghosts was never this much fun.
Photo: Rob LeFebvre/Cult of Mac

Pac-Man is a touchstone of gamer nostalgia, and Hipster Whale (the dynamic duo behind runaway hit Crossy Road) has created one of the best spin-offs yet: Pac-Man 256.

Better yet, it looks like the free-to-play endless runner cum dot muncher is now available on your high-def living room screen via the Apple TV itself.

While many Pac-Man sequels have been pretty awful, Pac-Man 256 gets it right, much like the lauded Pac-Man CE did a few years back. This one, though, is a thorough update, as Pac-Man and his ghosty enemies have fully embraced the free-to-play era. Hipster Whale perfected its chops with the amazing Crossy Road, a riff on classic arcade Frogger, making them a ton of money in the process.

Pac-Man 256 hasn’t been as much a success on iOS for the young startup, though it’s obviously doing well enough to spawn a move to Apple TV. Working with Bandai Namco to bring the venerable little yellow superstar to the mobile and Apple TV audience can’t have hurt, either.

What results is a game that doesn’t simply trade on nostalgia, though that may be what brings most gamers into the tent. What will keep them there is, at first, the familiar gameplay: move your Pac-Man through a retro-tastic maze, chomping dots and avoiding ghostly baddies, until you find a pellet to turn them all blue. Eat ’em up!

Once you get over the fun of just jammin’ out to the Pac-Man soundtrack, you’ll notice that Hipster Whale has thrown in some new wrinkles, too, like power ups and credits. Start a game with power ups enabled and you’ll run over lasers, freeze pills, and the like to make your run upward through an ever-glitching endless runner version of the familiar Pac-Man maze a little easier. Pick up credits in the maze as well. When you succumb to one of the evil ghosts, you can spend a credit to continue from that point.

Here’s a quick video of the game in action on iOS/Android:

It’s solid fun on the big screen, too, and though the Siri Remote gave me some problems with accuracy, it’s mostly great–just swipe left, right, up or down to navigate your little yellow chomp master around the maze. Adding a third-party controller like the very excellent SteelSeries Nimbus fully upped my game, though, so if you have one, be sure to give it a try.

Pac-Man 256 on the Apple TV is a great way to spend an afternoon with your kids, too, trading off the controller after every death to engage in high-score challenges. It’s free to download, and there’s only minimal encouragement to spend money via in-app purchases, though it’s always good to drop developers of games you love a little cash now and then.

Thanks, Jeff!