Much like the majority of the technology world, I’ve been obsessed with Pac-Man 256 within the last week. Its vibrant throwback images, beautiful gameplay mechanisms, and ridiculously entertaining power-ups keep you looking for pieces long after the novelty of a conventional Pac-Man match may have worn . If you are having difficulty beating your friends’ scores or want some extra help to get you over the 5,000 or 10,000 mark, here are some of my best tips, tricks, and bit-chaining advice to get you on your way.
Know your ghosts
Funky (green): Funky, like Sue, travels in a group and is trapped to a single horizontal lane; unlike Sue, Funky comes in a group of four, and travels at full movement speed. But the same principle of avoidance and dodging applies here.
Blinky (red): Starts appearing around the 3000-point mark, and will wind its way through the maze targeting you. Blinky will destroy you eventually if you give it the chance, so you need to either eat him first or send him to his death in the glitch void.
Glitchy (glitch): The weirdest of the ghosts, Glitchy has… well… a problem: It glitches in and out of existence. Glitchy appears in a swarm of glitch numbers. In swarm-form, the ghost is actually harmless, and you can munch through it with no concern; once it transforms into a colored ghost, however, it will follow you much like Blinky… until it glitches out of existence again a few seconds later.
Unlike your average Pac-Man game, there’s no limit to the number of each ghost type that can be on the board–you could run into a section with three Blinkys, two Clydes, an Inky, and a set of Funkys.
Use your power-ups and fruits to your advantage
If you’re looking at that list of ghosts from the last slide and going”Gee, that is a great deal of ghosts and I’m just one small Pac-Man,” I feel for you, buddy. And so do the game designers: You’ll get a lot of weapon power-ups at your disposal to dispatch with them.
There are 21 power-ups in the game, and all are earned strictly by eating Pac-dots. You can’t buy them, find them, or otherwise cheat your way into having them: Like all good things, these power-ups come with time–and bit-chains munched.
You’ll start with the age-old Pac-Man power-up: a Power Pellet, which appears in the maze like an oversized white dot. Munching a power pellet will turn all the ghosts blue, and give you the power to destroy them from the map by eating them. Unlike typical Pac-Man, once eaten, ghost don’t respawn from a box; instead, they’ll re-appear upwards on the map.
You’ll also get the first of many very cool power-ups: the Laser. This does exactly what it sounds like when you pick it up–it shoots a laser out of Pac-Man’s mouth straight down any maze corridor you turn into. It’s one of my favorites. The Laser starts as a 5-second power-up, but you can increase its power and points-per-ghost-vanquished with coins. (More on that later.)
As you play, you’ll uncover a bunch of other great power-ups–some more awesome than others. You can only ever have three active power-ups (plus the Power Pellet) in the maze at a time, so choose wisely. (My current favorite lineup: Optics, Pyro, and Boom.)
Here are the various “active attack” power-ups:
Freeze: Slows all ghost movement for a certain amount of time to allow you to dodge through the maze.
Bomb: Touch a ghost, and you’ll trigger an explosion that will take out all ghosts in a three-dot radius.
Giant: Turns you into a giant rolling Pac-Man that can squish all enemies.
Fire: You turn into a flame ball, and set fire to every path you take.
Pyro: Fire’s big brother. Flames appear in every path you take, but also spread out one or two dots to adjacent lanes.
Optics: A better version of Laser, and my favorite power-up in the game. Optics gives you lasers that go the length of a lane then bend around one corner, letting you sneak-attack ghosts nearby.
Boom: Not only do you get a massive bomb after a certain time period, but any time a ghost runs into you until that point, they’ll get exploded, too.
Here are the “passive attack” power-ups (they do the ghost-killing for you):
Tornado: You summon a tornado that randomly chases ghosts through the maze for a set time period.
Stealth: For a set period, ghosts can’t see you and you can roll right through them.
Trap: Five or so traps spring up around you in the maze, killing ghosts who run across them.
Pac-Men: You’ll get a few clones, all of which go and attack ghosts.
Twinado: Like Tornado, but there are now two of them. Double the trouble.
And here are the”get you more things” power-ups:
Magnet: Fruit and coins within a three-dot radius get automatically absorbed by Pac-Man, no eating necessary.
Shatter: Five or so stalacmites appear on the board, which you can shatter for bonus points. Ghosts also get slowed and frozen.
Regen: If you eat this power-up, any Pac-dots you consume will automatically regenerate.
Fruits and coins
In the maze, you’ll see two other items you can eat along the way: fruit, which gives you a point multiplier for a limited time period; and coins, which help you upgrade your weapons.
There are five fruits in the game, each with a different multiplier: Cherries (2x), Apples (3x), Strawberries (4x), Oranges (5x), and Melons (6x). All of these are good, but if you have to choose which to pick up and which to skip, keep your eyes out for Strawberries, Oranges, and Melons.
Picking up coins is the only way you’ll upgrade your power-ups (so they last longer and score you more points per ghost kill), but coins also don’t get you any points. If you’re going for a points run, you’ll want to avoid coins; if you’re trying to upgrade your weapons, you want to pick up nothing but coins on a run. (Coins, incidentally, are also one of the few in-app purchase items you can acquire: you can double your coins for $5, or you can watch an ad to get a chance at more coins.)
ABCP: Always Be Chasing Power-ups (for lots of points)
If you want to be the envy of your Game Center friends list, this is the way to do it. You want to traverse the maze with one goal, and one goal only: Get to the next power-up on the screen.
This works best when you have a load-out of three active attack power-ups. When you pick up a power-up, you’re protected from ghosts; your goal should then be to run up the maze until you can find the next power-up, and get as close to it as possible before time runs out.
When you eat a power-up, any”additional” power-up shows up on the screen as a white Pac-dot diamond: This is what you should be looking for. As soon as the previous power-up expires and you see the diamond turn back into an icon, eat it to turn on the new power-up. (On rare occasions, you may be lucky enough to find two in a row of the same power-up; in that case, you’ll see the icon for that power-up immediately instead of a white diamond.)
What power-ups you choose are ultimately up to you, but I’ve had great success with Optics, Boom, and Pyro (or their lower-level cousins Laser, Bomb, and Flame).
Do not fall into the trap of eating Pac-dots horizontally–even if it means you get to eat a few ghosts. If you absolutely have to move horizontally to advance forward, do it, but otherwise, focus on vertical movement and don’t get distracted by fruits, coins, or ghost-eating possibilities.
Look ahead and have an escape plan
As you traverse the maze, you’ll want to look upwards to see what kinds of ghosts you’re going to be encountering. Some can be easily avoided; others, like Blinky, will need to be killed with a power-up or led into the glitch. (More on that trick later.)
You can also look ahead to avoid accidentally running yourself into a corner. And remember: If you run up the edges of the screen, you may see a group of arrows pointing a corridor off-maze; that loops you back around to the opposite side and can be useful in avoiding ghosts. (When you pop back into the maze, you’re also briefly invulnerable from any ghosts in that immediate vicinity.)
Earn more power-ups by chaining your Pac-dots
If you want some of the big-daddy power-ups like Optics and Pyro, you need to collect Pac-dots, not points. There are a couple of good ways of doing this.
My personal favorite (and how I got all my power-ups) is eating as many dots as possible at the very beginning of the game. The glitch starts five seconds in, so you have a brief period of time to munch along the very bottom of the maze, collecting Pac-dots, and you’ll likely only have one or two ghosts to avoid. Collecting Pac-dots gets a lot harder the further up the maze you go, so getting as many as you can at the beginning is crucial.
Additionally, in this variation of Pac-Man, you have two lives: When you die the first time, the board is wiped of ghosts and the glitch resets. That often gives you an entire blank screen of Pac-dots and power-ups with which to gorge yourself on.
Earn more coins by completing missions
If you’re finding coin collection to be exceedingly slow going, you can get more power-up juice in a variety of different ways.
If in-app purchasing and watching 30-second ad videos aren’t your jam, you can win coin groupings by completing missions; you’ll get these during the game over screen, above the settings buttons and miscellany. Missions can range from”Kill 30 ghosts” to”Deploy bombs 5 occasions”, and after you’ve completed them, you are going to find just a small play during the game over screen which allows you roll an opportunity expire for cash. You’ve got a prospect of having 16, 32, 64, 128, or 256 coins each time you finish a mission, therefore the more assignments you’ll be able to finish, the better.
Allow the glitch function as buddy and rid you of ghosts
If you own a Pinky or a Blinky that simply won’t eliminate your spine, you may use the glitch for your benefit and ship them in the fantastic black outside.
Provided that the glitch only partly obscures paths, it is safe to travel right into –although your screen will begin shaking and Pac-Man moves somewhat slower. You may use this for ghosts to accompany you down display, then cut horizontally and flee the glitch whenever they get consumed. You won’t receive any points due to their passing, but you will at least get them off your back.
The Way to Acquire the 256-chain combo
If you consume 256 successive Pac-dots, you’re clear the whole board of ghosts and obtain their points (along with also a point bonus). It is a very enjoyable way to begin a jog, and fairly simple to accomplish if you start at the beginning of the board.
Start with visiting the centre left and ingesting down the side of the display, moving around, then moving up the extended right vertical. From there, start looking for squares, long flat lanes, and other regions where you are able to collect as many sequential dots as you can without running into a ghost. Completing a 256 series is a good deal tougher as you get up into the maze, so it is ideal to begin at the very start.
I have had decent luck with creating a 256 chain instantly following your very first passing in-game, once the board has been rid of ghosts and glitches.
Visit the settings display by getting exploded
Can not locate the settings display? Weirdly enough, you may just get to itand its own audio controls–once you die, on the Game Over screen. If you would like to switch off the sound and music effects, begin a new game, and instantly come across the very first ghost you will see.
Upgrade power-ups in the end of a gaming session
Your power-ups take real time to update when you invest coins onto these, and will probably be inaccessible while they are pumped up. Therefore, if you are considering spending a lot of coins to choose your Laser to another level, be sure to do it in the end of a gaming session, in order they can update when you do not want them to conquer that one phantom.