You might have guessed this was coming!
My game developer friend, who used to post with me on Cheap Ass Gamer, emailed me some big, unexpected news — just in time for the spring gaming drought. This is all really super-secret stuff, but he’s absolutely sure his “Japanese cousin,” who may or may not be a Bandai Namco employee, will remain incognito.
Right now, I’m analyzing some leaked screenshots which I promised not to post, but I can definitely talk about the plot points and general information on this “modern take on a classic” game releasing Holiday 2016 on PS4, PS3, XBOX 360, XBOX ONE, Wii-U, Android, and iOS platforms. The PC release, although not confirmed, is slated to drop sometime in 2018. I have to say I’m pretty stoked!
Prepare for PAC-MAN: MILLENNIUM FORCE! Yes, it’s the original 1980 PAC-MAN — and it’s the next beloved franchise getting the reboot treatment! My exclusive source confirms Bandai Namco is committing to 4K resolution, an engaging story, cinematic presentation, and VR headset support. That’s a tall order for this historically simple and fun game, but the developer is fairly confident they’ll be able to meet expectations. Through an unprecedented collaboration, Bandai Namco will be leaning on marketing support from giant publisher, EA, and creative input from the geniuses at Ubisoft who have recently tackled other classic games like Tetris and Monopoly.
This is definitely not your grandad’s arcade experience, though. PAC-MAN: MILLENNIUM FORCE will ostensibly be an open-world, survival-horror, “first-person eater” — a new genre Bandai Namco hopes will flourish in successive releases.
How will all the mechanics work together in an ambitious title like this? It’s all driven by the epic story inspired by recognizable elements from the classic coin-op obsession. And I already see some inspiration from F.E.A.R., Shadowrun, Ghostbusters, Robocop, Resident Evil, and maybe even a slight medical procedure from (dare I say) Human Centipede. You’ll see why.
Here’s what we know so far:
- The highly interactive open-world is set circa 2040 in New York City. A tyrannical corporation is flooding the streets with cheap paranormal-tech, and the drug-obsessed denizens are now getting high from capturing roaming spirits and “ghost huffing.” The dead are becoming very angry with the living for using them for recreational drug use, so the ghosts amass underground, compounding their psychic energy. The spirits occasionally attack the living, and specialized military forces are procured to deal with the issues. It’s problematic because they can’t really “kill” a ghost; they can only temporarily repel or captured.
- To grant significance to the old title, “PAC-MAN” is now a Department of Defense acronym for “Paramilitary Authorized Clairvoyant-Metaphysical Attack Negation.” You play as one of these “PAC-MEN,” Sergeant John Grant, and your specialized five-man unit is investigating some spiritual shenanigans in the intricate maze of sewers. PFC Barry Blinkowski and Corporal Clyde Otto have bad feelings about the seemingly routine mission and they argue with you to abort.
- Note: PAC-MEN are selected for their paranormal affinity and environmental energy absorption abilities. They employ advanced paranormal equipment and psychic techniques to track and capture nuisance ghosts.
- Early into the campaign, John is attacked, injured, and isolated by a group of insane “ghost huffers” raiding the sewers. To regain his energy, John feeds on a trail mix of fruit including bananas and cherries as he stumbles through the smelly complex corridors. He collapses and falls unconscious for days, but wakes up surprised he’s being stalked by four powerful ghosts. John sneaks around and tries to contact his unit, but he’s predictably unsuccessful. Here, Millennium Force takes a darker turn.
- Having lost his weapons and equipment, John resorts to fighting the ghosts using his raw paranormal powers. To gain a tactical advantage, in a gruesome scenario John slices his face into a “Glasgow smile.” The corners of his mouth are now split wide open to help absorb the ambient psychic energy in the sewer tunnels. John soon learns to focus his telekinetic mind to “pelletize” the energy into a digestible form. He eats the pellets faster and faster until he gains enough psychic power to actually “eat” the ghosts with his wide flapping mouth.
- The ghosts John consume don’t ultimately die, though, as they reanimate stronger and faster, scattering after John through the dank, winding tunnels.
- You basically have to avoid the ghosts while you build up your energy reserves…the cycle of eating and avoiding continues.
- SPOILER ALERT!
Because you’ve been eating these ghosts for their energy, you’ve also been absorbing their long-term memories. You’re shocked to discover the four ghosts you’ve been struggling with throughout the campaign are actually the remnants of your unit who were murdered by ghost huffers — unbeknownst to you — when you got trapped in the tunnels. You see, PFC Blinkowski is “Blinky” from the original game? Clyde, Inky, and the token female of the group, Pinky, also play a part. That’s really cool.
WOW! Can you imagine the level of immersion playing the new PAC-MAN reboot with Oculus Rift virtual reality, eating those nasty blue ghosts right in your face? Now, if that doesn’t sound exciting enough, DLC is already being planned so you can play as “John’s girlfriend.” You know this is clearly a nod to the Ms. PAC-MAN game.
Other than that…
It’s hard to sort through all the details, but my source also confirms Bandai Namco’s PAC-MAN: MILLENNIUM FORCE will have:
- online multi-player
- online co-op
- online survival mode
- classic skins
- standard skins
- fan-made skins
- weapon packs
- booster packs
- day-one patch
- mandatory install
- free launch day “classic” map
- dedicated server rental
- two season passes
- a mobile app
- a sweepstakes
- three varying collector’s editions
- an ultimate edition
- two future remastered editions
- two varying day-one essential editions
- a pre-load essential digital edition
- a PS4 bundle edition
- an invite-only reveal
- a closed beta
- an open alpha
- a paid pre-alpha
- a pre-order midnight pick-up party
- a pre-paid 48-hour pre-launch
- five retail-specific digital pre-order bonuses
- three different regional physical bonuses
- sign-in to the Bandai Namco network for daily bonus pellets