Australian indie developer Hipster Whale became an overnight sensation when they published Crossy Road - an update to the classic Frogger where you swipe to move. The difference here is the road is endless - you are never safe, constantly trying to beat the traffic (or whatever else is coming your way). The throwback simplicity was paired with unbelievably cute 3-D pixel art. The combination made it an App Store best-seller, and it spawned countless imitators and clones.
A funny thing happened on the way to being cloned out of business though. Some big companies with big named properties saw the genius in the little studio and cut deals with Hipster Whale for their own versions of Crossy Road. Most of the time a re-branding isn't very exciting - change the art and re-release the game. Profit. This time - thanks to the creativity of Hipster Whale -- a re-branding became something greater than the original... and Pac-Man 256 was born.
If you know Pac-Man, you know this game. Eat the dots, avoid the ghosts, eat the power pellets, eat the ghosts. The twist, like their Frogger re-make, is that the maze never ends. As the maze slowly scrolls down the screen you must constantly work your way up through the maze staying ahead of a dreaded "de-pixelization glitch" climbing ever closer to poor Pac-Man. This line of death is based on the scrambled screen that occurred in the original game when you hit the 256th level. Hence the name of the new game and it's genius. Hipster Whale has taken a limitation of 34 year old computer hardware and built an entirely modern game around it. The game is a great mix of retro and modern "bite sized" gaming that is perfect for a train ride to work or a break at lunch.
The game does iterate on the original a bit. There are power-up abilities that you can unlock over time as you play through the game. Eating one of these special power-ups affects the game in some unique way for a limited amount of time. Some are active abilities like Pac-Man shooting a laser in the direction he moves to kill ghosts in his path; or it may be more passive like a power-up that freezes ghosts in their tracks. It is a fun addition and since earning the unlocks takes some time, it gives players a nice feel of progression despite "starting over" after every game.
The game is free so give it a whirl. There are in-app purchases, but it is limited to different looks of mazes, characters or early unlocks of power-up abilities. There is no overwhelming need to buy anything, unless you want to support the devs (and you should since they are awesome).
Bandai- Namco took a chance on Hipster Whale and it paid off for them in spades. Pac-Man 256 has re-invigorated the brand for a new generation of gamers. It has paid off for Hipster Whale too - have I mentioned Disney Crossy Road?