Illustration for article titled Test Your Retro Gaming Skills in a Battle Royale with 'Pac-Man 99'Image: Bandai Namco / Nintendo

A brand new Pac-Man game, Pac-Man 99, is released exclusively on Nintendo Switch today. You can play it for free if you are a Nintendo Switch online subscriber.

Like the Tetris 99 of the same name and the now defunct Mario 35, Pac-Man 99 gives the original Pac-Man arcade game a large-scale competitive advantage. The core gameplay of Pac-Man is here: You move Pac-Man in a maze-like level, eat points and fruits and avoid ghosts. Chewing a power pellet will put Pac-Man on the offensive for a few seconds, allowing you to bite these ghostly chasers and temporarily remove them from the level.

But Pac-Man 99 faces a new threat: 98 other players.

Each person in a match plays their own level of Pac-Man, and if caught by a ghost, they lose the match. Players can influence their opponents’ gameplay by eating ghosts to send a “Jammer Pac-Man” to another player’s board. Touching a Pac-Man jammer will slow Pac-Man’s movement and make it easier for the ghosts to catch you.

Pac-Man 99 also introduces new power-up items that open up additional play styles, such as collecting “Ghost Train” combinations that increase a player’s personal score, throwing additional Jammer Pac-Men at opponents, or increasing the speed of the Game increase challenge and higher rewards.

Each Pac-Man 99 match lasts until there is one player left – but you will receive rewards even if you don’t win the round. The points you earn while playing are used to unlock in-game items such as avatar symbols.

Pac-Man 99 has other game modes if you don’t want to play battle royale matches, including CPU battle and single player. However, these additional modes are not included in the base and must be purchased separately. You can also purchase unique themes that change the look of the game. There are over 20 available at launch, and each one is based on other Namco arcade games like Dig Dug, Galaga, Tower of Druaga, and Xevious.

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Some call Pac-Man 99 the “replacement” for Mario 35 since it only arrives for a week after Nintendo shut down the Mario 35 servers and both games share similar ideas about gameplay. However, it appears Pac-Man 99 is going to stay here and not a limited-time event like Mario 35. Given that Pac-Man is now the third retro title to receive battle royale treatment for the Switch, ask whether we will see more games in the “99” series. I could go for a Donkey Kong 99 or a Legend of Zelda 99.

Pac-Man 99 will unlock on April 7th at 6:00 p.m. Pacific time / 9:00 p.m. Eastern time. It is available as a free download on the Nintendo Switch eShop for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers, and you can download it early so you can start playing as soon as it becomes available.

The Nintendo Switch Online service costs $ 4 for one month, $ 8 for three months, or $ 20 per year. You can also sign up for a package that supports up to seven accounts for a one-time fee of $ 35 per year.