In honor of Pac-Man‘s 30th Anniversary, Namco Bandai has set out to remind the gaming world of Pac-Man’s status as an icon by rereleasing his classic games and revealing new games with him as the star. One of these games is Pac-Man Party, a board game/mini-game collection starring Pac-Man, the ghosts and three other random characters.
Pac-Man is all about the Cookies, which replace Power Pellets in Pac-Man Party. He’s such a voracious fan that, in the Story Mode of the game, Pac-Man is tasked with protecting a super secret cookie recipe. Unfortunately, Cookies are crazy desirable in the Pac-Man world, and people keep taking the recipe from Pac-Man. (Which makes you wonder why someone would consider him responsible enough to keep it!)
Pac-Man Party is like a blend of Mario Party and Itadaki Street. Players are trying to collect a certain number of points (cookies) and reach the goal, while also collecting properties (by landing on them) and playing mini-games (when players land on owned castles). So it’s not really bringing anything new to the console. You don’t need to spend any Cookies to get castles — you just need to land on an unoccupied (or even occupied) one or land on an open space to claim the spot and start building one. The more castles you own, the more Cookies you get when you pass the factory (Go).
You can play alone in Story Mode and with up to three other friends in Party Mode. If you don’t feel like sitting down for a long match, you can always just head to the Mini Games section to play the games you’ve unlocked or the Classic Games section to play Pac-Man, Galaga or Dig Dug.
I really wouldn’t recommend playing Pac-Man Party alone. There really isn’t a good balance when it comes to the computer’s AI. Early on, your opponents are laughable. You’ll trounce them thoroughly without the slightest effort. Then, suddenly, they ghosts and strange creatures you’re facing are Pac-Man Party masters who seem to always move just the right number of spaces to ruin your fun.
Besides, it’s not like you really have to play alone. All 52 of Pac-Man Party‘s mini-games are unlocked right at the start. So it isn’t like you’re forced to play to unlock the mini-games so you can play them outside of the main game. Granted, there are 50 "Rewards" you can earn, some of which can only be acquired from the Story Mode, but they don’t change the game at all so it isn’t like you have to earn them.
Let me warn you though, those mini-games can get really cheap, really fast. If the players you’re facing are humans and have Power Cookies, then you’re in trouble. You can use a Cookie to make the game easier for your to win. If you’re playing an actual game and not just the mini-game alone, this could mean your "friend" could steal your castle and get a nice Cookie reward at the same time, since all mini-games reward winners with Cookies. They are relatively easy to control though. All use only the Wii remote and have fairly simple and intuitive controls, so that works in your favor.
The classic games in Pac-Man Party suffer from the same shortcomings as the classic games in Namco Museum Remix and Namco Museum Megamix. The presentation feels off, since they aren’t full screen games and using the adjustment feature makes them look awkward and the controls lack the precision seen in other ports and adaptions. They’re nice to have, and maybe you’ll even play them once or twice, but it’s really easy to forget they’re there.
Pac-Man Party is probably best for younger kids, perhaps ones for which Mario Party 8 with all of its mini-game unlocking would prove frustrating or who like the Monopoly concept but don’t like the more complicated property aquisition and management aspects. It’s bright and colorful, the mini-games are really easy to win and you can instantly start playing and have access to everything – all the characters and all 52 mini-games.
Food for Thought
- It’s easy to see at a glance who’s winning – the winning character is wearing a crown.
- Like all mini-game collections, there are some that are good and some that suck. Since there are 52, it’s pretty easy to say players will like at least half.
- I think it would have been better, and more challenging, if players actually had to pay to acquire castles.