A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
Encourages family-friendly, fun competition among large groups of players in an online environment.
Positive Role Models
The game's characters are little more than just familiar icons responding to players' actions, emphasized even more so when they're swapped out for characters and themes based on other games.
Ease of Play
Core gameplay is straightforward and simple, with players moving Pac-Man through a variety of mazes, eating dots while avoiding getting eaten by ghosts. Competitive battle royale element adds new layers and features to the familiar formula, with new obstacles and power-ups that can be used to hamper others and to overcome obstacles to outlast other players.
Violence & Scariness
Touching an enemy ghost or red Jammer causes Pac-Man to instantly disintegrate, while a powered-up Pac-Man can chomp down on vulnerable ghosts, who make their way back to their base and immediately return to life.
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Products & Purchases
The base online competitive game is free to download and play. But the CPU Battle, Score Attack, and Blind Time Attack modes, as well as custom themes based on classic Namco games and the ability to play private matches, are all locked behind paywalls.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Pac-Man 99 is a free-to-play online multiplayer battle royale game available for download on the Nintendo Switch. The game turns the classic Pac-Man arcade game into a competitive last-man-standing game, pitting players against 99 other random online opponents. While relatively simply to pick up and play, the game does add new twists to the classic gameplay without any real explanation, which means players will need to learn through practice or by looking up additional information on their own. Parents should also be aware that, while the base online game is free, other offline modes, as well as cosmetic additions, must be purchased separately as paid downloadable content (DLC) packs. There's no inappropriate content to be found in the game.
Is It Any Good?
Back in the day, gamers used to pack into arcades like sardines and feed quarters into Pac-Man machines to test their skills in a quest to be immortalized at the top of the high score leaderboard. Pac-Man 99 recaptures that excitement for a whole new generation of gamers. At first, it's hard to imagine any way the classic Pac-Man game could be transformed into a first-rate battle royale experience. But once players pick up the controller and go a few rounds, that addictive "just one more match" mentality quickly takes over and makes the game virtually impossible to put down. It doesn't hurt that the free-to-play model gives Switch owners little reason not to at least give it a shot.
As much fun as Pac-Man 99 is, there are still a few minor hiccups to overcome. For starters, there's never any explanation given as to how the various options for power-ups and targeting work. In fact, there's very little explanation for anything here. It pretty much just tosses players into the deep end and has them fend for themselves. The short version is that players toss obstacles, called "Jammers," at opponents every time they gobble down a vulnerable ghost. These can be set to target random players (Random), players close to defeat (Knockout), or those who've managed to take out the most opponents (Hunter). Power-up settings can boost a player's speed (Speed), send over more obstacles (Strength), or add more ghosts to chomp (Train), but each comes with a penalty for balance. It adds a layer of strategy to the game, but can easily be overlooked by all but the most hard-core players. Finally, there are some great additional game options, such as private matches with friends, an offline CPU battle, a Time Attack, and a Score Attack mode that players can hone their Pac-Man skills on, but these modes aren't included in the initial free download, and can only be unlocked via a separate purchase. If you can overlook these issues, though, Pac-Man 99 could create a new wave of Pac-Man Fever.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.