As one of the definitive arcade classics, Pac-Man needs little in the way of introduction. We're sure that many readers can still remember putting quarters up on a Pac-Man machine at the arcade waiting with anticipation for their turn to play. You may also have played on numerous other platforms since the game's release in 1980. Whether you're an old Pac-Man vet or you're one of the few who has never experienced the pill-eating arcade classic, the iPad version is very good, with only a few minor annoyances.
For the uninitiated, the object of the game is to clear the board of dots, by navigating Pac-Man through the game board without getting caught by any of the four ghosts. Eating a large dot turns all the ghosts blue, making them the prey for a short period of time, and you get more points for each successive blue ghost you eat. As you progress in levels, the game gets faster and the ghosts get smarter.
Playing Pac-Man on the iPad is a lot of fun, but there really is no substitute for the joystick you used on the original arcade game. You get two ways to control Pac-Man on the iPad: you can use an onscreen joystick or you can use swipe controls, which require a swipe each time you make a turn. We found the swipe controls to be a better choice, but it becomes crucial that you know where you're going in advance of making a turn. The iPad version lets you play in both portrait and landscape views with some additional background art (reminiscent of the stand-up arcade version) on the sides of the screen.
Aside from the control system, Pac-Man for the iPad is very true to the original, so even old-school masters (with "patterns") will appreciate the attention to detail. But is Pac-Man for iPad worth $4.99? That largely depends on your history with the game. If you were a Pac-Man fanatic back in the arcade game days, you might be put off by the controls. On the other hand, newcomers to Pac-Man might feel cheated because there's only one map. But if you can get past the controls and enjoy old-school arcade action, this game will make for a classic addition to your iPad game collection.