Obscure Game #4: Pac-Man Battle Royale for Arcade

Battle Royale. Those two words will immediately flash back to the recent hits of the likes of Epic Games’ Fortnite or Tencent’s PlayerUnknown Battleground as examples of the increasing popularity of the genre with game developers monetizing contents through seasons passes and downloadable contents. These are the types of games that require an active community to allow the game to truly flourish in its online presence on the internet. Without a solid foundation that stands out from the rest of the competition to levitate the genre to new heights, the game will linger in obscurity until the developer decided to pull the game out of its misery. An example of this occurring is Xaviant’s The Culling 2 that poorly timed the launch of the game during the height of the Fortnite craze, which was unable to have any sufficient players online for weeks leading very few actual players within the sever playing the game as intended. Later on, Xaviant pulls the game altogether from Steam and other copies from consoles citing poor financial failures of their game and eventually retracing back to their original game in hopes of salvaging the game’s fanbase remaining with the game. Although many games of this genre have its critics in regards to how much the genre has been saturated with needless microtransactions and that the idea of reusing the same idea again can become stale.  It is, however, undeniable of the impact that battle royale has certainly given to the industry as a whole.

The history and origin of the name can be traced back to a 1999 novel by Japanese author Koshun Takami’s Battle Royale of the same name, which was then adapted into a movie and manga in 2000 of the same name with a sequel and remakes later on. The plot is about a group of students forcibly captured on an island by the government called “The Program” and force them to murder each other in an attempt to set up an escape plan.

In terms of Battle Royale video games, it is somewhat confusing to pinpoint the exact game that started off the genre. Many say that the beginning of battle royale started with the mods of Hunger Games in Minecraft that originally used to develop further the uses of the game. Starting in 2015, when early beta testing of games such as H1NZ started to become available to the public was when the genre absolutely exploded. However, others consider Bomberman as the first battle royale game, which shares elements of the genre. I mean, it has loots that the player needs to quickly upgrade by blowing up bricks for power-ups, it requires the player to eliminate each other for first place and generally can be played either as a solo or team multiplayer. In 2016, Japan released its own exclusive battle royale game for mobile titled Btoom! Online, which was based on a manga and anime series that sold dismally and possibly ended a second season for the series.

Of all the battle royale games, Tetris 99 for Nintendo Switch is an interesting title. Announced as a surprise title from Nintendo February Direct has caused quite a stir within the gaming community for the mixture of the core classic simplicity of Tetris infused with the popular battle royale style was initially met with initial skepticism of how well implemented considering Nintendo’s awful online service. When the game was released, the game received many positive reactions from critics deeming the game a solid alternative to the aforementioned shooters that have largely dominated the scene and that game also performed well on Nintendo’s latest hybrid console. Although the idea of turning classic games to battle royale sound like a ridiculous idea, there was another classic IP that experiences this genre much earlier then Tetris 99. If there was an official battle royale that was officially licensed and released for arcades in the early 2010s, you wouldn’t believe it. One company called Bandai Namco decided that it would be an interesting time to add a little twist of a battle royale to their established IP with Pac-Man.

Pac-Man Battle Royale by Bandai Namco (2011)

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Advertisement of the arcade game (2011)

Seeing Pacman in a Battle Royale game might be a novelty of an idea itself, but having much of the rules that are currently applied of a kill-to-win first place concept on a Pac-Man game is very interesting to see as previous installments often remix levels of other stages from the game. The poster above shows the tabletop versions in homage to the original 1980 arcade that was also represented as a cocktail arcade unit. There is also another version of the arcade game with four-player stands and a widescreen TV that plays more remarkably like a game show with each platform controlled by one person separately on the control stick.

The game plays very much like a battle royale game in that either one to four players of Pac-Man of players must eliminate each other for the game to declare a winner of the round. During this time, the game last around a two minutes per round, so each player can manage their own pathway of yellow dots to gather for the power pellet by eating enough to activate a fruit to appear randomly to appear on the maze. This allows for another chance for a player to gather enough resources for a power pellet to appear on the path to eliminate the player for the chance for a winning point. The game aesthetics are mainly based on 2007’s Pac-Man Championship Editions with respect of paying homage to the original game with energized neon on the background of the maze while craving a new identity that builds on the foundation of classic Pac-Man. If either player ties within the two matches, the game sends an entirely different stage for the player to culminate their moves again in a different wider scope of the maze. There are around five stages in total that drastically increases the width of the maze that allows the player to travel consecutively to the other side of the maze adding to the frantic nature of the game.

Originally announced back in World Amusement Expo 2010 of Las Vegas as well as other parts of America, the game was announced by Bandai Namco to honor Pacman 30th anniversary and apparently, the company was so confident that they made a Facebook account just dedicated to players to selected locations of the United States, such as Dave and Buster. When I check out the link attached in the advertisement, the URL took me to an empty Facebook leaving me with presumably either a broken link or a deleted page. It would be disappointing to know that not much information can be found anywhere online. It looks like Bandai Namco was hoping that the game would be much more attractive for the more casual audience and fans of the experience.

Video footage of Pac-Man Battle Royale. Uploaded July 23, 2013 by Highway Entertainment on YouTube.

The game reminds me what’s Namco and Nintendo did with Pacman VS for Nintendo GameCube with GBA connectivity of a link cable. The game probably was best known for its disappointing appearance as the game to show off the GameCube in Electronics Expo 2003, which led to a famous IGN meme called the “Gajin4Koma”, where the group of IGN critics was unimpressed in the reveal compared to next year expo when a Legend of Zelda was announced. Also, Charles Martinet, who voice Nintendo’s mascot Mario makes an appearance as a narrator who speaks for the overall duration of the game. In that game, three players can play as the following ghosts to catch Pac-Man who is controlled by another player holding the Gameboy Advance. Each of the characters holds both positives and negative traits that add some strategic elements in the way each player manage the match. For example, if you decide to play as Pac-Man, the visibility is much more widen as it attained to the entire stage along with four power pellets at your disposal when necessary and the option take the tunnels to scrape off the trailing ghosts, but the easy vulnerability of only one player as Pac-Man could easily be clutched by the other three players to end the round. On the other hands, the ghosts could easily overpower Pac-Man in sheer quantity of players band together at the player through taking similar routes to entrap the Pac-Man player. Once the round is over, the player who won the stage earns bonus points and then switches to another player in control for another set round until the time limit ends.

Both of these games relate somewhat to each other as they require much of the skills from both sides of the players and how their methods would easily work for the sides to play on building up the character for a reasonable amount of time that allows the player to strike against each other for the win. the eventually, Pacman VS was ported to Namco Museum DS and more recently, Namco Museum for Nintendo Switch in 2017. Pac-Man Battle Royale got an iPad release in December 2011 and was then ported to Pac-Man Museum for Xbox Live Arcade, Microsoft PC and PlayStation Network. It was also planned for Pac-Man Museum for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U before it was promptly canceled due to “development issues”.

Pac-Man Battle Royale is an amusing take on the battle royale genre that came out at a time where many peoples were unaware of how much the genre would follow in the later years before it would become a mainstream competitor, and its impact for decades to come. The idea of taking beloved franchises and turning into a multiplayer of being the only player has an addictive quality that cannot be turned away, as the concept does provide the potential of how established series can combine with unlikely genres to produce a new experience.

Sources:

1.https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/reaction-guys-gaijin-4koma (IGN meme of the reaction of the disappointing showcase of Pac-Man VS and the aftermath of Nintendo E3 2004 on Know Your Meme)

2.https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2010/06/pac-man-battle-royale-four-player-death-match-arcade-style/ (Information of the game by Ars Technica in 2010)

3.https://ca.ign.com/articles/2017/09/26/competitive-pac-man-battle-casino-coming-to-casino-floors-2018 (Reference between Pac-Man Battle Casino and Pac-Man Battle Royale on IGN)

4.https://www.pocketgamer.com/articles/051588/pac-man-battle-royale-is-heading-to-the-3ds-as-part-of-the-pac-man-museum-collection/ (Pac-Man Battle Royale was going to be ported to 3DS from Pocket Gamer)

5.https://www.gameroom-goodies.com/pac-man-battle-royale-arcade-game/ (Images of the game)

6.https://www.destructoid.com/sample-pac-man-battle-royale-on-your-ipad-for-free-192736.phtml (iPad version of Pac-Man Battle Royale)

7.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_Royale_(manga) (Battle Royale Wikipedia)

8.https://goboiano.com/btooom-wont-get-a-2nd-season-as-mobile-game-flops/ (Second season of BTOOOM Online canceled due to poor sales)

 

 

2 thoughts on “Obscure Game #4: Pac-Man Battle Royale for Arcade

  1. I have seen an arcade table of this game, and it does look like a lot of fun. Another good multiplayer Pac-Man game is Pac-Man Vs. It’s a game in which one person plays as Pac-Man and the other ones play as ghosts; it’s a really neat concept.

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