With Super Mario Bros. 35 banished from the Nintendo Switch eShop, a new battle royale contender has arrived to dominate our free time and make us shout angry words at the TV. Yes, PAC-MAN 99 is now available on Switch at no additional cost to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers!
As with Mario's battle royale debut and fellow eShop freebie Tetris 99, this new release is good fun but not especially easy to understand. As such, we've put together a master guide full of tips, tricks, advice and more that should help you learn how to play, how to win, and how to have the most fun. Waka Waka!
The Basics of PAC-MAN 99
At its core, PAC-MAN 99 shares many similarities to the gameplay we've all come to know and love over the years. You play as a yellow pizza-shaped blob thing (yes, that's our best Pac-Man description), working your way around a maze eating Pac-Dots, avoiding Ghosts, and simply trying to stay alive. The twist this time is that you're doing this at the same time as 98 other players. Oh, and they all want to destroy you.
All 99 players compete to be crowned the champion, or the 'PAC-ONE' as it's called in-game. Just like in Tetris 99, the longer you manage to survive, the faster and more dangerous the game gets, and it's your job to damage your opponents and avoid being gobbled up until every other player has been wiped out.
How To Play - Attacking And Surviving
When you jump into a game, you'll immediately notice your maze in the centre of the screen, and 98 other little screens on both sides. Your main focus will be on the maze itself; the other 98 screens are indicators representing your opponents who are battling against you in real-time.
How To Attack Other Players
Attacking other players is one key part of PAC-MAN 99, as this essentially makes your opponents' lives that much harder, hopefully causing them to crash out of the race and propel you up the leaderboards.
To initiate an attack, you'll need to eat a Power Pellet (one of the big circles found at the edges of your maze). Just like in traditional Pac-Man games, eating this turns all Ghosts into Frightened Ghosts, and if go on to eat a Frightened Ghost before the timer runs down, you'll send what's known as a Jammer Pac-Man to other players' mazes.
Jammer Pac-Man sit inside a maze and cause a player to slow down if they bump into them, so if you can send a good chunk of them to your enemies, they may get caught up and eventually be too slow to avoid being eaten – and wiped out – by a Ghost. One enemy down, 97 more to go.
Ghost Trains And Advanced Tactics
That's the basics of attacking nailed down, but there are some more advanced tricks that will give you the best chance of winning.
Near the centre of the stage you'll spot Sleeping Ghosts, all lined up and ready to be eaten at any time. It's a good idea to grab them as you travel around the maze, as these will attach themselves to one of the normal Ghosts to create a Ghost Train.
From here, grab your Power Pellet as normal as head for the Ghost Train. You'll be able to eat plenty of Ghosts in one big swoop, sending an equal number of Jammer Pac-Man to your enemies in the process.
If you want even more advanced tricks, feel free to also check out our guides on Power-Ups and Targeting:
- PAC-MAN 99: Power-Ups - Standard, Stronger, Train, Speed Explained
- PAC-MAN 99: Targeting Options - Random, Counter, Hunter, Knockout Explained
PAC-MAN 99 Game Modes And DLC
Only one PAC-MAN 99 game mode is available for free, with others being locked behind a DLC purchase:
- PAC-MAN 99 (Free): A 99-man Battle Royale against players from around the world.
- CPU Battle: Best out 98 other computer players! Good for getting a feel for Pac-battles!
- Score Attack: Try to beat the high score! Max out that score counter!
- Blind Time Attack: Can you clear the whole maze before time runs out?
At the time of writing, the PAC-MAN 99 Mode Unlock (which unlocks the three modes listed above as well as the ability to play private matches against friends) is available for £12.99 / $14.99. You can also pick up a PAC-MAN 99 Deluxe Pack which unlocks these modes and provides you with lots of additional custom themes, all for £24.99 / $29.99.
- PAC-MAN 99: Private Matches - How To Play With Friends
- PAC-MAN 99: Custom Themes - How To Get And Apply New Retro Skins
More PAC-MAN 99 Hints And Tips
- Spend your first few matches getting the basics nailed down before moving on to the advanced stuff. Unless you're a Tetris 99 pro already, it's likely you'll struggle to juggle all the different attacking options at first, so save that until you're more experienced.
- Don't panic! It's easier said than done, for sure, but remember that you'll have plenty more games to try and get that all-important win. As the pace starts to pick up towards the end, keep the concentration and don't make big plays just because you feel like you should.
- Sometimes, it's better to just stay low. It's tempting to go all guns blazing and try to wipe out opponents, but in the early part of the game, it can sometimes be better to simply stay safe, set up Ghost Trains, and wait until things get serious before laying down your attacks.
- Remember to reset. As standard, we've found it helpful to fall back on the 'Standard' and 'Random' attack options in between hectic periods. You don't want to accidentally leave a power-up activated and then waste it because you didn't realise it was going to happen!
This article is part of our complete PAC-MAN 99 guide, which includes beginner tips and tricks, advice on how to use Power-Up options (Standard, Speed, Train, Stronger), how to use Targeting options (Random, Counter, Hunter, Knockout), the game's basic controls and how to customise them, how to play a private match with your friends, and how to acquire and apply new custom themes.
Hopefully this collection of guides has helped you to improve your game and work towards claiming those victory royales. If you have any tips of your own, feel free to share them with us and other readers in the comments below.
And if you're undecided on whether you should give the game a try, check out our full PAC-MAN 99 review.