A Japanese startup is working with Bandai Namco to rework the classic arcade game into an immersive virtual reality experience—using a touch-control VR headset that will cost under US$20.

When you really think about it, the concept of Pac-Man is kind of horrifying. It may not seem that way, since players are viewing Pac-Man’s world from a top-down perspective, removed far enough from our hero’s predicament to not have to think about it too hard. But put yourself in Pac-Man’s shoes — or whatever it is Pac-Man is using to get around (chomp momentum?) — and you’ll quickly realize you’re trapped in a pitch-black labyrinth with no exit, surrounded by vicious apparitions hellbent on vaporizing you with a single touch. Holy crap, that’s terrifying!

And soon, you’ll actually be able to experience this nightmare for yourself with this upcoming virtual reality headset from WHITE, a startup company that’s working with Bandai Namco to bring the classic arcade game that started it all to the company’s super-affordable Milbox Touch.


The Milbox Touch is WHITE’s flagship product and is set to go on sale in April of this year. Design-wise, the Milbox Touch is similar to Google’s Cardboard in that it’s a super cheap, semi-DIY virtual reality headset powered by inserting your smartphone as a monitor. But Milbox Touch brings with it one game-changing new design feature: A side-mounted touch panel that enables simple touch controls, allowing you to navigate menus and play games without the need for additional equipment.



For this new VR Pac-Man experience, players will control the voracious hero by sliding their fingers across the touch panel in a winding motion — clockwise to move forward, counterclockwise to reverse. Looking around in real-time will steer Pac-Man in the direction you want him to go. Sure, a lot of people would probably like to see this applied to something like the Oculus Rift, with its accelerometers and gyros and whatnot that allow walking around in real life to be reflected in-game, but we imagine with the sprawling virtual maps of Pac-Man, this setup will result in a lot fewer instances of be-goggled players obliviously stumbling into traffic.

The first-person perspective actually adds a lot of complexity to the Pac-Man experience, as players will be only be able to see enemy ghosts when they are directly in your line of sight, and the ability to go in reverse could let players back out of sticky situations, but it’s a risk-reward gamble as you won’t be able to see what’s behind you (which is where ghosts like to hang out, after all).


Oh, and did we mention the Milbox Touch is going to retail for just shy of US$20? Not bad for a basic VR experience with a handful of games.

To top it all off, players may be able to look forward to VR versions of tons of classic Bandai Namco games as part of the company’s “Open Channel” project, which has made the code and limited rights to 17 of the company’s classic intellectual properties available to creators. Some other titles made available in the catalog include Galaga, Galaxian, Xevious and Druaga. Dig Dug is on the list, too, but we’re not sure if we could handle the experience of exploding cute critters in a VR environment.

Source: Makuake
Images: WHITE/Bandai Namco