Pac-Man Works Better As A Battle Royale Than Super Mario Bros.

Within one week of pulling the plug on Super Mario Bros. 35, Nintendo announced another battle royale-style game: Pac-Man 99, a 99-player take on Bandai Namco’s arcade classic. As it did with Super Mario Bros. and Tetris before it, developer Arika has taken a well-known retro game and added a competitive twist to it–and even from just a few rounds with the title, it’s immediately clear that Pac-Man is better suited to the battle royale format than Super Mario Bros. was.

The reason comes down to the game’s immediacy. Given its roots in the arcade (where a developer’s primary concern was to wring as many quarters as possible out of a patron’s pockets), Pac-Man is about reflex. Super Mario Bros. also requires dexterity, of course, but it was designed for a home console. As such, it’s a grander, more methodical sort of game, featuring larger stages that are rife with secrets to discover if you take the time to poke around. This makes for a more satisfying single-player experience, but it doesn’t lend itself quite as well to battle royale-style competition.

This was especially evident in Super Mario Bros. 35’s late game. While the playing field would shrink fairly quickly as less experienced players were winnowed out, the final stretch of a round could be a slog, especially if everyone played cautiously and stockpiled their coins for the power-up roulette. Because of this, victory was often decided by the clock, which meant that one round of Super Mario Bros. 35 could last upwards of 20 minutes–not exactly the kind of game you could casually dip into.

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