127957_largerIs there a more American game character than Pac-Man? I know it's Japanese, but come on, has there ever been a better metaphor for Fitzgerald's American Dream? The Jay Gatsby of games swallows whole each and every pellet in its path, with no hope of stopping, until the ghosts of one's past offer death's sweet release. Unlike Tetris, a Soviet fantasy about placing blocks in an orderly fashion.

And so, maybe I could be depressed or annoyed that NAMCO Bandai Games is releasing PAC-MAN DASH! [Free], the least surprising free-to-play runner released this summer. But instead I'm charmed by the appropriateness of this once-great capitalist icon finding its home in a game bursting with IAP and recycled ideas. Is this a cynical game? Maybe. But maybe it's genius!

Either way, DASH! isn't the worst thing I've ever played. In fact, putting aside the cynicism of the exercise, it's kind of fun. And Pac-Man makes sense as a runner.

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In DASH!, Pac-Man chomps down fruit, ghosts and pellets, or as the game sacrilegiously refers to them, "cookies." Since Pac-Man is always able to devour ghosts, there's never any fear of dying or getting caught by Inky, Pinky, Blinky or Clyde, and thus, no joyful moment of revenge when the "hunter becomes the hunted." Instead, the only challenge comes from the missions, which include exciting tasks like "Collect 200 cookies!" or "Eat 20 red ghosts!"'

Cookies can buy new characters, and different power-ups and characters make these tasks easier. After finishing 10 missions in each world, a new world opens up. There are five total. Each stage looks exactly the same, and only the five worlds bare any distinction. It would have been nice to see a few more locations, but the worlds that do exist offer some visual and gameplay variations.

PAC-MAN DASH's IAP is particularly egregious. It takes one heart to play or replay a stage, and the game starts you with 10 hearts that take over 13 minutes to refill. That's 13 minutes per heart. So after depleting my stamina, it takes a solid two hours to keep playing uninterrupted. Still, I managed to play for a solid 20 to 30 minutes at a time, and the game does offer one free recharge. The next recharge is a buck. It may be crass, or it could be the game's own subtle satire of the free-to-play model. Maybe. Probably not, though.

I sound harsh, but really, if you have a high tolerance for cynicism, enjoy runners, and love hearing those delightfully nostalgic "wakawakawakawaka" sounds, then PAC-MAN DASH! is a solid use of your zero dollars. As much as it made my eyes roll, it's also some super sugary eye candy. And there's real dumb fun to upgrading my character so that it can triple jump and magnetize every ghost on the screen, or getting enough pellets to turn into giant Pac-Man and trample all the ghosts in your path.

I hated Sonic Dash when I first played it. I did. I was sick of runners and I didn't like that the newest Sonic game had to be a runner. Well, guess who's still playing Sonic Dash? I hate to say it, but I gladly finished every mission in PAC-MAN DASH!, and should the developers release new content, I'll likely download the update and give them even more of my time, if not my IAP dollars. Once you accept that it's terrible, it's really not so bad.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • deepblueocean84

    This review was egregious. Haha

  • B30

    "Once you accept that it's terrible, it's really not so bad."

  • ryan.w

    I have done all levels in this game plz hurry with new levels

  • old man gamer

    is there a reason every article needs to be geared to 14 year olds who hate paying for stuff? this site used to be a daily check-in for me but with this new focus on bitching about iap in every article, I look maybe once a week now, and usually stop reading after one annoying screed.

    it's almost funny... it's like you forget that pac-man originated in the arcade where you paid a quarter for each play.

    • McBlink

      Or he isn't old enough to remember.

    • Phoenix Dirk

      It seems his biggest issue was the fact that this is another goddamn runner. Cause we really don't need another goddamn runner. If you're saying the original, arcade pac-man is the same as this garbage, i don't know what to tell you. But I wouldn't be dropping quarters into this.

    • sweetdiss

      I seem to recall TA giving a solid 5 star review to a certain agricultural zombie sequel despite it being free-to-play.

      • Nutrilica

        They gave Zombie Farm 2 five stars? When did this happen? XD

    • Jacob Gehman

      Probably because UNLIKE at the arcade, where you know going in what you're spending per play, the IAP schemes for free-to-play games are different depending on game/developer/etc.

      And it isn't about criticizing IAP, it's about criticizing absurd IAP.

  • defunct32

    Oh look it's Namco Bandai! How about a tales game on the iOS? Oh wait... We might have to do a petition, beg online and sell our souls or something like that to be localized; Tales of Localization Never.

  • toxiccheese

    I deleted the game when I saw that they Ed the pellets 'cookies' instead

  • toxiccheese

    I deleted the game when I saw that the called the pellets cookies. Are they trying to cater to a new young audience? Terrible change.

  • LOLCAT

    I 100% agree with this review. (Let the flames begin!) the IAP is terrible, the runner formula is worn-down, and the game is pretty good...for a bad game. The graphics are excellent, the gameplay is solid and addictive, and the missions are actually pretty well-designed. (Nearing the end, anyways.)

  • Blodia

    The game is better than the cartoon, a given considering how godawful "Ghostly Adventures" is. Marty Ingalls, your phone is ringing...

  • HelperMonkey

    Why the hell does Pac-Man have arms and legs?

    • David Clarke

      Let's write some fan fiction and figure this out!

    • _the_escape_artist_

      He's had arms and legs since before.
      If you ever played Pac-man World for Xbox and stuff. That game was freaking awesome.

    • Taclys

      Because it needs to be am endless runner, not an endless roller.

    • Protoman

      The pellets he's been munching all these years have been radioactive isotopes in actuality. Slowly, steadily, his very genetic structure has been mutating this whole time. From a sphere with a mouth began at first small buds, than where once were buds digits formed. Longer and longer, hands, feet, arms, legs. Pac-Man was never himself again. Hounded by the other spheroid entities of Pacland he had no choice but to RUN, and run endlessly he did!

      • David Clarke

        PAC-MAN DASH! sees the once sympathetic character chasing down ghost-after-ghost, gobbling everything in his path. At one time, he was doing it for Skylar Pacman and Pacman Jr., but now he had become something different... something unstoppable. He was Heisenburp. He was Ozymandigest. He was PAC-MAN.

        Fear him, for he is the one who chomps.

  • MonkeyChunks

    This is probably in the store because they recently started showing a new Pac-Man cartoon on Disney which features not the real paan (yellow ball with a mouth) but one of these re imaginations of pac-man with two cartoony eyes, shoes, and gloves.
    They should just remake the pac-man game that was out in 90s on consoles which was called PacmanWorld or Pac-world, which had great reviews and all that.

  • Nutrilica

    Eh, it's a free sonic :)

  • rewyan

    This game is a horrible combo between pac-man and endless runner. It's more like an advertisement for the new TV show. Seriously, if pac-man is combined with an endless runner, all creativity has been lost in this world.

    By the way, this review is over a month late, for a really crappy game with a crappy idea.

    • rewyan

      To add on, the first half of the game is incredibly easy. It gets boring until much later in the game.

  • DoctorDoom80

    You should also add that it's based on the Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures cartoon series on Disney XD

PAC-MAN DASH! Reviewed by David Clarke on . Rating: 3