The core gameplay is more or less the same as the original Pac-Man. The player controls Pac-Man to eat all the Pac-Dots while avoiding ghosts. He can also get a Power Pellet in order to eat the ghosts, and can collect fruit for bonus points. When all dots are eaten, the player moves onto the next stage.
The most apparent difference in Pac-Mania is that the entire game is in an isometric, pseudo-3D perspective, which was very impressive for its time period. Pac-Man now also has the ability to jump over objects, including dots and ghosts (but not parts of the maze itself). This is a very useful move in tight situations, but it must be performed carefully.
Two new power-ups appear in the game as well, referred to as “Special Items”, which appear occasionally in the center of the maze. The Red Pellet will increase the points Pac-Man gets from eating ghosts, and will last until he loses a life. The Green Pellet makes Pac-Man go faster, but only lasts a short while.