What do you get when Pac-Man eats Sonic the Hedgehog? Apparently, it's something pretty close to what just raced its way onto iOS, because after playing Pac-Man Dash it's a wonder that the cover of the game is not the titular hero picking his teeth with a blue quill. Namco Bandai's new game takes the iconic video game hero out of the maze and onto the racetrack. Well, not really a racetrack, but more of a pellet-filled world that's full of endless running madness -- the de-facto standard of countless mobile titles out there.
Pac-Man Dash attaches some fresh new appendages to our hero and throws him out to get his motor running again on your mobile device. For a free to play game, this is kind of what you would expect. The graphics are pretty shiny and smooth, full of bright, radioactive colors that make everything pop out in a highly saturated way. It's a breezy effort that lets you get reacquainted with an old friend via some gameplay that's by now all too familiar. Although, to be fair, the game introduces some new ideas for a genre that definitely needs them.
Like a lot of endless runner titles, you don't control Pac-Man's running. Rather, you guide the massive mouth forward, tapping the jump button to reach platforms on different levels. Any time you start up a level, you will have 30 seconds to complete an objective, instead of just going on and on for as long as you can before meeting your inevitable demise. You can't even fall to your death here. When Pac misses a jump, he will just glide down to a lower level.
On the surface, it may seem like a bit of a stretch to put Pac-Man in a speed-oriented endless runner. But really, the comparison to Sonic makes more sense the more you think about how much of a fast-twitch game the original Pac-Man happened to be. And there's no skimping on speed in this new game.
You will need just as much of your reflexes at hand with this new title in order to progress as you would have with classic Pac-Man. Only now you're getting your tap on, instead of wrangling with an old school joystick.
Since the game is free to play, there are the requisite in-app purchases that will let you buy special powers. And it's pretty clear that these are here for you to complete tasks that can only be accomplished with the powers. Since these powers can also be unlocked by scanning in toys that are hitting the shelves sometime next month, it's no surprise that the younger ones out there are being targeted with this set up.
I had no idea that the old Pac-Man franchise could be revived into merchandise. I'm usually okay with IAPs, provided that they only are necessary for content that's supplemental. Whenever a core part of a game is hidden behind a blatant cash grab (or a poorly disguised one), it's always a bit of a let down.
Pac-Man Dash has some fast and fun action here and there, making it a good title to mess around with for a little bit. But I was not going in to this game ready to be blown away by anything. It's really more or less what you would expect of a stock endless runner title that revives a classic video game character.