Pac-Man has been around for over 30 years, but is usually relegated to munching in a maze. Like many other video game characters, Pac-Man has now made the transition to the endless runner in the form of Pac-Man Dash. It’s a fast paced 2D side scrolling sprint covering twisting pathways while collecting dot cookies, and ghosts. Rather than an endless set-up, there is a single concrete mission to complete in each level whether it’s running a certain distance, eating a certain number of ghosts or cookies, or using a special ability. It’s a whole new way to play Pac-Man, and a different way to play the endless runner style.
The missions keep the challenge relatively fresh, and it also entices you to keep playing, which isn’t always the case with endless games. You only have 30 seconds to complete a given mission, but as soon as you complete that mission, you can let the rest of the level play out automatically, like in the iOS game The End. There are 70 different missions spread across five environments, and the new designs are another reason to keep dashing. The level designs are reminiscent of the classic Sonic, as well as Mega Run with forking pathways that rise and fall that you cover at great speeds.
The sense of speed is the best part of Pac-Man Dash to the point that you need split second reaction time to leap over gaps, dash into ghosts, and follow the path of cookies. There’s so much potentially happening on screen at once, and it’s great to truly dash with the 30 second intervals, challenging missions, and great flow to the level layouts. The game is free to play, and there are in-app purchases to pick up new cookies to unlock special abilities, which can also be acquired with Pac-Man toys that you can scan in, Skylanders style. One problem with the IAP set-up is that some challenges require special abilities that have exorbitant prices. The only real drawback with the gameplay is that the game can be a bit too easy, as there’s no negative to missing a jump since there are always lower pathways. The level layouts are randomly generated, but there are only a couple different sequences, so that presents some repetition as well.
Pac-Man Dash (Free, Universal) is a surprisingly engaging and fresh addition to a tired genre that offers some fast paced action with short bursts of enjoyment making it worth your time to pick up and play.