Think You’re a Pac-Man Pro? Wanna Bet?
There was a Pac-Man stand-up arcade game where my kids used to take swimming lessons. When I remembered – or when I had enough change in the armrest of my car – my kids and I would have a little classic gaming fun before heading home. Naturally, I would amaze my offspring by clearing a whole bunch of levels when they could maybe only get through one or two. Playing after them made me feel like a veritable Billy Mitchell. YOU CAN’T STEP TO ME! YOU NEED A BOX TO EVEN REACH THE JOYSTICK!
Thus, my reaction when I heard about a new Pac-Man gambling game that is set to debut at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) next week was to invoke Charles Montgomery Burns and utter an evil, “Eeexxxcellent.”
This is my opportunity to win back all the money I have spent on my children. They won’t even know what hit them. Let’s play some Pac-Man, he said. It will be fun, he said. Then BOOM, I drain their piggy banks.
Let’s forget for a moment that the oldest won’t be able to set foot in a casino with even the loosest age requirements for seven years and by that time both of their hand-eye coordination and quick-analytical skills might eclipse mine (guffaw) and just revel in the thought of me tasting their salty tears as they realize too late was has happened in such an innocent game of Pac-Man.
The game of which I speak, Pac-Man Battle Casino, has been developed by Gamblit Gambling, LLC and BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment, the company that created arguably the most important video game of all time. It is based 2011’s Pac-Man Battle Royale, a player-versus-player version of the game we all know and love.
We haven’t seen the actual gameplay of Pac-Man Battle Casino yet and Gamblit Gambling hasn’t described it in great detail, but if it is largely mirrors Pac-Man Battle Royale, it will be playable by two to four players, competing against each other simultaneously. As opposed to the classic Pac-Man game, where two players can participate but take alternate turns when the other loses a life, this one has all players navigating the maze at the same time.
Players aim to chomp dots and avoid ghosts as usual, but in Pac-Man Battle Royale (again, let’s assume that Battle Casino is the same), when a player eats a power pellet, not only do the ghosts turn blue and become edible for a short time, but so do the other players.
Rounds are timed and players are eliminated if they are caught by a ghost or a powered-up opposing Pac-Man. The last player remaining wins the round. In Pac-Man Battle Royale, there are three to nine rounds, which may or may not be the same for Pac-Man Battle Casino. It is conceivable the games could only be one round, but if I were to guess, they will be at least best-of-three. Because it is positioned as a “skill game,” having just one round could be unfair to someone who hasn’t gotten used to the game mechanics yet.
If you were wondering, if two players bump into each other (and both are either power-up or at normal power), they will bounce back, away from each other. Rather than the level ending and a new maze appearing when all of the dots are eaten, the dots simply reappear in a different arrangement (the entire maze is not necessarily filled with dots). The dots are also reset if a Pac-Man eats one of the bonus items, like the classic cherries or pretzels.
Based on screenshots distributed by Gambling Gaming, it looks like the prize will be determined by a random wheel spin. One would assume that the dollar figures on the prize wheel will grow with the amount wagered and that the probabilities will be as such that the casino will take more from bets in the long run than it gives away in prizes (obviously).
In a screenshot, it looks like each of four players bet $5 and ended up playing for what may be the largest prize on that wheel, $600. Thus, that’s 30 times the total amount bet. It is difficult to read all of the dollar amounts, but it appears that the lowest prize is $12, so much less than the $20 in total bets.
It also seems that, like in PokerStars’ Spin & Go, the prize pool is displayed before the game starts, as the wheel says “Playing For $600.” If it was shown only at the end, it would have said something like “You Won $600.” A different screen displays “Player X Won! $600.” On game play screenshots, the prize is also displayed in the middle of the maze.
One thing that could be interesting about Pac-Man Battle Casino, aside from the ability to gamble on Pac-Man, is that it could open up the opportunity for players to collude against the casino is some instances. One of those instances would be the example provided in the screenshots. If each player wagered $5 and the prize for the winner is $600, the four players could very easily agree to split the prize, each guaranteeing themselves an automatic $150 win on a $5 bet. Obviously, there would have to be trust involved, so it would probably need to be friends playing against each other, but it seems like it could happen.
For a smaller prize like $12 (and 9 out of 16 spaces on the prize wheel in the screenshot are $12, $15, or $18), it wouldn’t be worth it to collude, everyone would automatically be a loser. Might as well play it out and only make a deal on the big prizes. Of course, those large prizes are probably quite rare, so my collusion thoughts may be overblown.
Gamblit Gaming has developed a number of skill-based gambling games, some of which are variations on popular mobile games like Doodle Jump and Jetpack Joyride. Semi-gambling versions of the games can be found at arcades like Dave & Busters.
Pac-Man Battle Casino will be unveiled at G2E this coming week and will be installed in casinos in 2018.