A former Stadia unique involves PC and consoles this week, and it’s a blast

Pac-Man runs from ghosts on a graveyard themed board in Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle: Chomp Champs.
Bandai Namco

If you’re a fan of Pac-Man, you’re in luck. On May 9, Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle: Chomp Champs (not the catchiest identify, is it?) hits PC and all main consoles. The online-only multiplayer launch is a battle royale game the place 64 gamers combat to outlive throughout interconnected mazes. It’s a chaotic use of the Pac-Man system that followers of the sequence ought to get pleasure from.

If all of this sounds oddly acquainted, it’s as a result of the sport initially launched practically 4 years in the past … as a now-lost Google Stadia unique.

Originally launched on November 17, 2020, Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle was touted as one among Stadia’s key exclusives. Like so many different video games, it was practically misplaced to time when Stadia shuttered on January 18, 2023. Since it was a real unique for the service, it appeared like followers would by no means get an opportunity to play it once more. Thankfully, it’s again. And that’s excellent news, as a result of the newly up to date model is a enjoyable multiplayer curiosity that deserved a second probability.

In Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle, 64 gamers chomp via mazes concurrently and combat to be the final Pac standing. That concept could be explored later within the Nintendo Switch unique Pac-Man 99 (one other recreation that’s now defunct), however the concept is rather more profitable right here. The large distinction is that gamers get extra alternatives to work together with each other. At completely different intervals, paths will open that result in rival gamers’ mazes. Players can mess with each other, stealing their worthwhile fruits or gobbling up each other’s energy pellets. It’s all a bit extra tense and cutthroat than the comparatively lonely Pac-Man 99.

Pac-Men chase one another through a beach maze in Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle: Chomp Champs.
Bandai Namco

It’s additionally a bit extra complicated. There’s loads occurring on display screen, and the in-game tutorial solely explains a lot. Power-ups can seem in mazes every now and then. Some are easy, like an merchandise that freezes ghosts (and some other people within the maze) in place. Others aren’t terribly effectively defined, which may make early battles really feel slightly hectic. Its scoring system could be laborious to determine too, because it’s not initially clear if gamers must get the best rating to win or survive. An odd mission system that offers gamers sure duties to finish solely clutters it extra.

While there’s a studying curve right here, Chomp Champs is sweet enjoyable when you get a way of the way it all works. The core Pac-Man gameplay is as tight because it must be and it has a inventive approach of ramping up in complexity. Anytime gamers clear a board, the problem rises. The ghost AI will get smarter and the maze turns into trickier to navigate. That infuses some rising stress into battles as the ultimate gamers might want to showcase some severe expertise to outwit each other.

My greatest match got here right down to an extended one-on-one duel the place my rival and I spent a great 10 minutes battling it out in a single maze. I saved attempting to bait them into corners so I might seize an influence pellet and chomp away one among their lives. It’s ruthless enjoyable, although the endgame can drag as soon as it’s down to 2 equally expert gamers who don’t die simply (power-ups like additional lives drag that point out much more). It’s not probably the most elegant model of Pac-Man, however it’s a terrific take a look at of endurance for professionals.

As a re-release, Chomp Champs doesn’t convey too many new concepts to the desk. It’s a reasonably stripped-down multiplayer bundle with one core mode, a ranked playlist, and a few cosmetics to purchase with cash earned from taking part in. The new model does add crossplay assist, although, which ought to assist it attain a extra constant participant rely than Stadia ever might. Its $20 price ticket does really feel a contact excessive for what’s provided right here, however there’s some strong multiplayer motion to be discovered right here for individuals who wish to dive in.

Even if it’s not a revelatory Pac-Man recreation, I’m thrilled to see Mega Tunnel Battle rescued from Stadia jail. Stadia’s sudden shutdown in 2023 created a real preservation disaster for video games like this. Every unique on the platform deserved to make its way to modern platforms, however that’s in the end as much as builders to determine if it’s worth the resources. In the case of Mega Tunnel Battle, I’d say the trouble is value it once you’re coping with one among gaming’s most iconic franchises. Here’s hoping that Pac-Man 99 can discover new life sooner or later, too.

Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle: Chomp Champs launches on May 9 for PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC.

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