(MEGA TUNNEL BATTLE is now available for the Google Stadia. Distributor provided review copy.)
A blast from the past
Remember Pac-Man? One of the most iconic figures in gaming history that almost single-handedly revolutionized the arcade landscape? It would be surprising if you didn’t, considering how he’s been around in some form or another to this day, with re-releases and remasters every few years on new consoles.
But what happens when you take the well-worn concept and apply it to the current fad of battle royales? And, even more importantly, what happens when you release it on a platform a few play – or even care about?
On the surface, MEGA TUNNEL BATTLE is as classic an update to PAC-MAN as humanly possible. The game plays nearly identical to all past incarnations, but even the minor updates make an impact. Players are now free from the single board as the game pits 64 strangers against one another in a long-form battle of survival.
Old dog, new tricks
Each game starts in the same classic way as every Pac-Man in history. You’re alone in a solitary maze hunting for yellow pellets, and ghosts are chasing you. Within moments, two portals open up on either side of the board, leading to other players’ games happening concurrent to you. You can either stay or explore, but the goal is to survive longer than anyone else. Leaving will give you more room to maneuver but can also lead to sticky scenarios as other boards fall into chaos.
When you perish, as often happens, PAC-MAN transports you to a spectator mode, which allows for further manipulation of the map. During gameplay, power-ups will drop at random intervals, allowing faster speeds or even the power to eat other players. As a spectator, dropped players have the opportunity to decide where and when these drops occur, further complicating the hectic game.
Winners receive tokens, which unlock cosmetic items for their respective Pac-Men and mazes. Sadly, none of these appear to change the layout of the levels, only the visuals. While the 64 boards provide a lot of variety during gameplay, I can’t help but wish that they’d also change the layout for some added challenge.
Challenging, but fun
Alongside the battle royale is a Challenge Mode, which doesn’t offer any surprises but is enjoyable for what it is. Ranging from simple to deviously tricky tasks, the Challenge Mode changes on a daily and weekly basis, with each new obstacle offering up bountiful awards in tokens.
And that’s about it. PAC-MAN: MEGA TUNNEL BATTLE is exceedingly straightforward in what it offers, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. For fans of both the classic arcade game and multiplayer shenanigans, it’s the real deal. The way MEGA TUNNEL BATTLE seamlessly blends the two together will keep devotees occupied for hundreds of hours.
But it’s currently only available on the Google Stadia, and it’s not a game that sells systems. Not even something as reasonably cheap as the Stadia. I didn’t have a particular challenge in finding games during my time with MEGA TUNNEL BATTLE. Still, I also nearly forgot that I had access to the Stadia almost immediately after I stopped playing it. With the release of a new console generation, and the existence of the Nintendo Switch, it’s too big of an ask for players to hop on yet another system. Especially one that has no other exclusives to speak of, even if PAC-MAN: MEGA TUNNEL BATTLE is boatloads of fun.
Once it gets ported on to anything else, do give it a go. It’s well worth your time. Just not on this platform.