A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Pac-Man 256 is a simple arcade game based on the game they played when they were kids. Now they can play it with their kids, since this version adds a four-player co-op option. But while this doesn't have any violence, blood, gore, or naughty language, it does feature a pill-popping binge eater who, when juiced up, eats blue ghosts.
What's it about?
Based on William Shakespeare's The Tempest ... just kidding. PAC-MAN 256, like the original arcade game on which this is based, doesn't have a story. You simply play as the titular and circular hero as you make your way through mazes, eating dots, fruits, and occasional power-ups that let you eat the ghosts that've been chasing you around. Successfully collecting pills and coin power-ups unlock new power-ups that can be used in new game rounds.
Is it any good?
Inspired by a bug in the original game, this new version of the arcade classic has our circular hero running around a maze in hopes of eating all the dots while avoiding a glitch in the system that will kill him. As you move upward, you'll also run across fruits that will multiply your score, power-ups that include a laser that destroys any enemies in your line of sight, and the classic power-up that turns the ghosts dark blue and edible -- but, unlike in the original game, you don't just have to contend with four ghosts who are constantly running around. There are many more, and some will actually stand still, blocking your path. This also doesn't have a single maze that resets after you've eaten all the dots. Instead, it's an endless maze that constantly adds new passages as you head up and away from the deadly glitch. All of which adds up to a rather addictive and unique take on this still-fun arcade classic -- one that may confuse young fans who know Pac-Man as a cartoon hero but will engage anyone who remember him as an arcade icon.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about responsible eating. Pac-Man doesn't have to worry about obesity, diabetes, or even stomach aches, but what can we learn about eating right from watching him chow down on all those dots?
Families can talk about history. How did a simple game such as Pac-Man lead us to our modern video games, and what does it say about this version of Pac-Man that it's fun without being radically different from the original?
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