|Dev: Namco Bandai Games|
|Pub: Namco Bandai Games|
|Release: November 16, 2010|
|Screen Resolution: 480p||Mild Cartoon Violence|
by Tony Capri
Every once in a great while a game comes along so completely unexpected, so gloriously surprising and enjoyable – lightning strikes and inspiration is born. Pac-man Party is not such a game, however. It's a game for the sake of being a game, and even those who carry with them fond memories of pellet-eating bliss from decades past will do well to steer clear of this holiday abomination.
Following in the footsteps of the Mario Party series, Pac-man Party offers a mini-game compilation for up to four players. You can take on the game solo in Story, or against friends and/or CPU opponents in Party Mode. The Mini Game mode allows you to handpick specific mini-games, and the Rewards section is where you can admire achievements you've unlocked. Lastly, you'll get the Classic Games area, which we'll get to in just a moment.
The Story mode is straightforward, and to be honest, there are a handful of decent ideas tossed into the mix. Unbeknownst to me and likely the rest of the gaming population, those little white pellets Pac-man's been nibbling away at all these years are cookies, and it's up to him to retrieve a special recipe and return it to its rightful owner. There's a ridiculous plot at play here, and the dialogue between Pac-man and the infamous Pac-man ghosts is boring and unnecessary. To be sure you don't accidentally slip into a comatose state, however, the developers have graciously added the option to skip past the game's cutscenes.
Similar to Mario Party games, you'll move around virtual spaces on a gameboard, and for each space you land on, you'll erect or battle to secure a castle with your icon on it. Castles earn you extra cookies each time you completely circle the map, and successfully winning mini-games turns an opponent's castle into one of your own. It's an interesting concept, one that works quite well, but once you've played through a single board, you've seen pretty much everything that Pac-man Party's Story mode has to offer. There are five board types to choose from, but the changes are cosmetic.
Surprisingly, one of the more entertaining elements of the actual board gameplay is determining how many spaces you'll move during a specific turn. Rather than simply have you roll virtual dice with a simple button press, Pac-man Party has you shooting darts, popping balloons, and playing through a quick game of pachinko. There are a few other neat features as well, and gameplay in Pac-man Party's Story mode seems to focus more on the actual board game than mini-game gameplay.
That's probably for the best, too. Though there are over fifty mini-games to rip through, none are standout gems and a few of them are downright broken. Take for instance Spaghetti Rollup, which has you making circling motions with the Wii Remote to roll up spaghetti on a giant fork; the player with the biggest ball of spaghetti on their fork at the end of the mini-game wins. The control in this particular mini-game feels fine, and the Wii Remote reads your motions accurately. The mini-game itself, however, simply isn't satisfying to play through.
Showdown with Arachne, on the other hand, is just plain broken – end of story. In this mini-game, the object is to save butterflies by running over them with your character. To control your character, you'll have to hold the Wii Remote sideways and steer like a car. My character continued to get locked in corners of the platform, and regardless of which way I moved the controller, my character would move in the opposite direction.