Apparently I'm just a sucker for weird, retro game-themed battle royale stuff. I hopped on Tetris 99, Super Mario Bros. 35, and now Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle as soon as they were available. It helps that I can actually play these games well, instead of twitchy shooters I don’t have enough fun with to practice. If you have a Google Stadia account, there’s a free demo for this new Pac-Man battle royale game running right now. I’ve spent some time with it, enough to get that win, proving my Pac-Man Prowess.So if you’re having trouble, here are some key tips that will get you into that top ten spot.
First of all, you have to realize what’s happening. There’s a lot going on in this ridiculous game, more than in Tetris 99 or Mario Bros. 35. 64 total Pac-Man players are dropped into a massive grid of mazes, and everyone gets their own. Each maze is a full game of Pac-Man, with its own set of four ghosts, fruit, power pellets, the whole shebang. There are two major twists. One, there are power ups, and even power-downs that will occasionally spawn in the maze in addition to the fruit. Two, each maze has a series of doors along the edges, which allow you to travel to another maze. Your goal is to survive of course, and you have three lives to do so.
Related: Pac-Man 256 Guide and Tips
If you eat all the pellets in a maze, that maze will progress to the next level, classic Pac-Man style. So it’s totally possible to scoot across the overall board and have the difficulty ping-pong at you. But more importantly, you can’t really see what’s going on when you’re crossing over to a different maze. When you approach a door, you will see what level the adjacent maze is, and the number of players in it already. If you’re occupying space with another player, it’s important to keep a few facts in mind:
- If you run into another player and you’re both regular size, you’ll collide and separate bumper car-style. Yes, you can knock them or get knocked into ghosts.
- If one of you has a power pellet activated, the other will be eaten
- If anyone clears a maze, every player in the room will be moved to the starting position, so you’ll have to re-orient.
It’s totally possible to play aggressively, seeking and destroying other players. But it’s just as easy to mess up if you’re going hard, so that’s risky play. On the other hand, it’s also possible to try turtling, avoiding other players and just playing a weird version of Pac-Man. You’re in mortal danger either way.
There is a caveat when it comes to jumping mazes. Each door is set on a timer. If it’s blue, that means you can use it, and it’s counting down to locking. Red means no bueno, and you’ll have to wait for it to open up. The doors operate independently, although generally you’ll see half of them synced up. A 256-style glitch can also come in and relocate the doors, so you can never truly rely on the doors for safety. You have to be agile and adapt to sudden changes if you’re trying to pinch out an escape from a ghost or another player.
There are also a series up pickups as I mentioned earlier. If the power-up floating around is yellow, it’s a good idea to try to go after it. If it’s blue you need to watch out it can have detrimental effects if you touch it, or another player does. The power-ups are as follows:
- Invulnerability (yellow) - this has a shield icon, and both other players and ghosts will bounce off of you.
- Ghost Repellent (yellow) - This has a “stinky” Pac-Man icon. Ghosts will avoid you briefly.
- Clone Ghost (blue) - if you grab this, an extra ghost will be added to the room!
- Ghost Attractor (blue) - Ghosts fall in love with you and will chase you more aggressively.
- Smart Bomb (blue) - everything around you blows up, and you get points.
There are two other pick-ups, a yellow 1-Up, and a blue key. The key will lock/unlock the doors in a room, and the extra life is exactly that. Expect to be challenged if one of those shows up.
Above all else, there is something you need to know about the power-ups. You can store them! There are two different “store” buttons, which you can map as you want. You also have two slots, meaning you can store up to two power-ups to use when you want. You just have to hold the respective button down as you’re grabbing a power-up to use it. Otherwise you’ll use it instantly if you just touch it. When you have power-ups stored you can set combos up to really take control of a situation, so that right there is a big metagame-y element for sure.
Despite all the power-ups, winning Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle is all about the power pellets. Every time you enter a maze, your first goal is to check for other players, and your immediate second concern is power pellet status. Like I mentioned earlier, power pellets are how players can take each other out. But they’re also a tool for survival as much as they are for offense. So looking out for them isn’t always about getting kills.
If you want to be really aggressive, I found out it’s really effective to hunt power pellets. Getting into scraps with other players is thrilling, but risky! But if you can zip through a maze and make an immediate beeline for any power pellets, then zoop over through the next open door, anyone who is in that maze has to deal with the ghosts on their own. The game only gets faster, and ripping away those lifelines is an excellent sabotage maneuver.
Obviously no matter what you do, you have to pay attention. The original Pac-Man gets decided on bad corners, and that’s the same here. But don’t forget you have three lives to play with. Also, don’t forget you can move the instant you respawn, so make sure you don’t go sailing right into a hazard. Storing power-ups can be just as key here, for getting you out of bad situations quickly. Again, you just have to be ready to adapt to what’s happening around you, and ready to change direction the moment you need to.
At the end of the day, Pac-Man Mega Tunnel Battle is just a really big game of Pac-Man. It isn’t nearly as wild as something like Pac-Man Championship Edition. The power-ups aren’t even that frequent or game-shattering for the most part. If you want to be the last remaining Pac-Man, you have to have a solid game of Pac-Man. Move quickly, abuse the doors, and eat all them pellets. You can do it, kings. I know you can.