Would games even exist if Pacman had never existed? Maybe, maybe not, but it’s impossible to deny that this game paved the way for arcade gaming and beyond. Despite being an iconic game, there aren’t as many Pacman clones as, say, Breakout clones, but the ones that do exist are definitely worth playing.
Want to play some Pacman-like games today? Satisfy that itch by checking out these games.
PacZ, also known as Pacman Worlds 2, is a beautiful indie-made clone of Pacman that stays true to the original in many ways, yet also adds a load of new features that amp up the fun and make it a unique product. It was originally released as a shareware title but is now available for free on the Acoders website.
In traditional fashion, you control a small spherical creature who must consume all of the pellets on a level to progress. The game features upgraded graphics which feel better than the neon simplicity of the original. There’s also an in-game Pac-shop where you can buy gameplay items that grant bonuses (jumping over enemies, laying bombs, etc.).
NjAM [Windows, Linux]
NjAM is a cross-platform desktop game that takes the fun of Pacman and extends it into multiplayer goodness. You can play it as a single-player game if you want, but you can also play with your friends by sharing a keyboard or by connecting over a network. This alone could justify NjAM’s tagline, “The most addictive free Pacman game.”
Multiplayer modes include Duel Mode, which pits two players against each other to see who can rack up the most points, and Cooperative Mode, which tests players to see how many levels they can complete together. With a built-in level editor and customizable graphics, the fun just keeps going.
And for those of you who are programmers, NjAM is open source. Ever wondered how to make a networked game using C++ and SDL? This is a great place to start.
Not Pacman [Windows, Mac, Linux]
Like most clones nowadays, Not Pacman takes the original gameplay and spins it around with a unique twist. What’s the twist here? Physics! Instead of controlling the character using directional arrows, Not Pacman revolves around the concept of gravity. By spinning the board around, you determine where Pacman can go.
Needless to say, Not Pacman is much harder than the original. You lose a lot of precision control and you’re bound to get frustrated sooner rather than later. However, it does feel more satisfying when you complete a level. If you’ve ever wanted to play a version of Pacman that required hand-eye coordination and expert timing, this is the game for you.
EVAC [Android, iOS, Windows Phone]
Pacman’s simplistic gameplay seems like it’d be a perfect fit for mobile devices, so it’s a wonder why app stores aren’t flooded with clones. However, there’s always EVAC, which is a brilliant game with a neon-colored polygonal aesthetic inspired by games like Geometry Wars. It’s Pacman on a whole different level.
There are some new gameplay elements here. You can rush through all of the pellets if you’d like, but you can also play by stealth and by setting traps for the enemies. It’s a fun blend of action/stealth/puzzle that takes you through 24 levels, each with its own unique design. The best thing about EVAC is that it promotes creativity for beating its levels.
Have you played any other Pacman clones that deserve a mention? I know that there are a lot of them out there, many of which I’m sure I’ve never heard of before. Please share them with us in the comments!