Changing up some tropes of the party genre, fantastic music
Some weak mini-games, occasionally hard to control
Though his star was eventually eclipsed by Mario’s, Pac-Man was once a household name synonymous with video games. He even had a song written about him. The golden-colored game star still has pull, and his latest romp, Pac-Man Party, is a multiplayer-themed party game based around Namco’s arcade classic.
The game’s visual style is clearly a nod to Avi Arad’s upcoming 3D Pac-Man animated series, although the Story mode of the game does little to enlighten players as to the show’s plot. While this game would obviously not exist without the Mario Party series, Pac-Man has dabbled in these waters before, with 2002’s Pac-Man Fever.
The main game revolves around four participants traveling around a game board, with multiple board themes that share similar bonus and penalty spaces. The goal is to get a certain number of Cookies, essentially Pac-dots, and head to the cookie factory, which resembles passing Go in Monopoly. All blank spaces in the game can be captured by players, who will erect a castle on the spot. Castles can be linked up to four spaces, and other players can try to take over opponent’s spaces, which results in a mini-game. Players can choose to play as Pac-Man, the regular cast of four ghost-monsters (Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde, sporting their new looks), or three additional original characters. Ms. Pac-Man is strangely absent, though this may have to do with the link with the new show.
All four players will participate in these battles, even though usually only two or three will be directly involved. If neither an “Attacker” or “Defender” wins a battle, the unaffiliated winner will be awarded a Power Cookie (power pellet/energizer) which can be used for an advantage in successive games, and whichever of the battling players finishes higher will “win” the attack. This can be confusing, but one can also see how leaving out the other players and having only the battling players participate in a mini-game could get boring for the others. There are also boss battle mini-games in which all four players team up against a large foe, each player gets a bonus depending upon his or her performance.
There are a few things to love about this game. First and foremost, the music is fantastic. The majority of the score is fully orchestrated, and some of the incidental Pac-Man chip tunes are quoted at random times. Secondly, Pac-Man Party streamlines some aspects of the party experience. All players roll and move at the same time, cutting down on the “watch time” having each player roll and move individually. In addition, rolling is actually done via one of four different micro-games and lets players actually have some control over how many spaces they move, which can lead to greater strategy.
Most of the mini-games revolve around eating or being round, fitting since this is Pac-Man. That being said, while some games are quite fun, there are others that can be repetitive, and still others that feel as if they have specifically been adapted from a Mario Party game. The game seems particularly hard to control in mini-games where the Wii Remote is held sideways and used to tilt, although this is not present in all mini-games. Even with the streamlined interface, the game can still take a long time if the goal number of Cookies is set high.
In addition to Party Mode, the game features Story Mode, where one player takes Pac-Man across a series of boards to meet the other characters and recover a lost cookie recipe; Mini-Game mode, where the various battle games can be tested with others or against the computer; and a Retro Arcade, which features Pac-Man, Galaga, and Dig-Dug. This is a good spread, especially as a bonus, but it might have seemed more in keeping to have a group of Pac-Man games, like Ms. Pac-Man, Super Pac-Man, or Pac-Mania included instead. Various rewards can be accumulated and reviewed for accomplishing things throughout the other modes, including the arcade games.
For fans of Pac-Man and party games, this is a sure bet and would be a great game to get for households with multiple kids. The arcade games are also a great bonus for those who don’t already own them in other forms. Since Mario hasn’t had a party in nearly three years (Wii Party doesn’t count), Pac-Man is positioning himself as a contender on the party scene, despite a few missteps on this Wii outing.
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.