Interesting take on the dice roll; boss events bring fresh air to the board game genre
Terrible story and cut-scenes; broken mini-games; apparent lack of polish and effort; the new characters; ugly presentation
Pac-Man Party 3D can be described as nothing more, but perhaps less, than a Mario Party rip-off. Sure, the game adds a few interesting elements that differ from the obvious source material, but in the end, they all add up to being the boring, mediocre game that is Pac-Man Party 3D.
The things that Pac-Man Party 3D does differently than Mario Party (which, admittedly, is a fair amount) are interesting. But, they’re executed poorly, and to be candid, lack any sense of good judgment. Instead of collecting coins and stars, you’re collecting cookies. A game ends when a character collects a certain, very high, amount of cookies, which are earned by winning minigames, building castles, and, well, being lucky.
Taking a page from Monopoly, whenever you’re on an empty space in Pac-Man Party 3D, you claim the property with a castle. If another player lands on your castle, a minigame ensues, causing both the attacker and defender, plus the other two players (if the maximum amount of people are playing), to compete. If the defenders win, they keep their castle and win some cookies. If the attackers succeed, they take the castle for their own. But if neutral players win, they earn a Power Cookies– yay!
Pac-Man parties with his … friends?
While suffering through the friendship-filled story of the 3-4 hour single-player campaign, you’ll encounter 50 minigames that range from “that wasn’t that bad” to “what the heck just happened?” The instructions before a minigame are terribly sparing, leaving you to try and figure out what you actually need to do in the minigame before it actually starts, which, occasionally, is much too late. Imagine knowing absolutely nothing about football: you don’t know how to win, how to play, or what to do with the ball. Now, imagine being thrown in as the quarterback during the last, crucial minutes of a football game. This is the experience of playing the majority of the minigames in Pac-Man Party 3D, but much, much less exciting and way more aggravating. An instructional video, a feature present in Mario Party, would have been a worthwhile inclusion.
Besides the story mode, there are a handful of other game modes to try out. If you wish to pass the boring, time-consuming board game half of the game and jump straight to the broken, irritating minigames, you can play the “minigames only” mode, where you can either play against a computer, play against friends through single-card/multi-card play, or play by passing the system around. I doubt you’ll find a minigame that you’ll want to have a second go at, so this mode is mostly useless. You can also play the main party mode with up to four friends (good luck!). Also, in what seems as a “we’ve got to get something worthwhile on this cartridge” move, the developers added three Namco classics: Galaga, Dig Dug, and the good ole Pac-Man that we all know and love.
Grammar is not one of the game’s strong points
This isn’t to say that the entirety of the game is bad; there are some actual, genuine moments of fun and cleverness. Instead of rolling a die and receiving a random number to move x amount of spaces, you play a minigame, where you can get the exact number that you want– with enough skill. Another fun idea is the inclusion of boss battles: when a specific space is passed a number of times, a boss battle is triggered. When this event takes place, the entire game board gets a face lift, blocking off a given amount of spaces and supplying the landscape with a fresh new face. Soon after, all four players cooperatively try to take down the boss. Finally, the aforementioned Power Cookies are an exciting variable to each minigame encounter. If you find yourself falling behind in a minigame, you can use a Power Cookie to power up your player, giving you a temporary advantage over everyone else that is unique to each minigame.
But ultimately, the game tries to be more than what it turns out to be: a poor, unexciting take at the Mario Party formula. The game is littered with cool little additions that would usually make the game great, but sadly, they’re all bogged down by inconsistencies, glitches, and what appears to be a lack of effort. For instance, the minigames that include touch and gyroscope controls rarely work, and there were times that I actually put down the system and did something else during the elongated CPU turns and load times. At the same time, the game is littered with grammar mistakes and unfair glitches. The game just isn’t very fun. If you’re looking for a fun Mario Party-esque experience, there are plenty of better, more fun experiences on other consoles– but, if you only have a 3DS, I recommend waiting until the eventual release of Nintendo’s own shot at the party genre in 3D.
Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.