Inspired by Pac-Man Fever, the concept of Pac-Man Party is as easy as any party game comes; you’re your regular board game with certain twists. You participate and play in mini-games and you need to obtain points to win. The twists include collecting cookies (similar to power pellets) and building castles in lieu of coins and stars. You have to complete the set and return to base (starting point); the first player to accomplish this wins the game. You even get the chance to build your own castle every time you stop at clear space and this is where it the game gets more interesting; it is in fact the focal point of Pac-Man Party. Whenever you land on your own castle, you earn bonus cookies, but if an opponent does, you have to engage in an ensuing battle to retain control of your castle. The battle comes as a mini-game where up to four players may participate. If you get the upper hand, you regain control of your castle; plus you get all their cookies. Conversely, if you lose the battle, they can take away your castle and cookies.
Re-inventing the concept of the board game by converting it into a video, yet still carefully adapts the necessary features (especially the visual design) to preserve its originality and fun is by no means that simple and it’s quite impressive the way Namco Bandai manages to do this. While the initial stage of the gameplay is admittedly a little slow, the game speed picks up once ample castles are built by players to create occasions for the mini-games – then it becomes much like what a Pac-Man game should be: hectic, frantic, zippy and just full of unadulterated fun!
I do have a minor issue with this system and that’s when one of my mates has taken so long collecting the required number cookies that it further delayed the step up to the mini games. But I guess that can be expected in any party game and not exclusive to Pac-Man Party. Further, the straightforward motion controls offset any delays as only the most basic controls are used even for the mini-games; so you don’t waste time trying to figure out some complex moves of the Wii Remote.
Three main modes of playing are presented in the game. The Story Mode is a single player mode where you get to experience the tale of how Pac-Man safeguards an undisclosed cookie recipe from the clutches of the ghosts: Pinky, Inky, Blinky and Clyde. You have to play a total of 50 mini games within five game worlds in this mode. The Party Mode is the typical multiplayer for four players; while the last mode is the free-play Mini Games Mode.
Apart from the three primary modes two bonus modes are in place, which are completely separate from the principal game. One is the rewards and achievements system where you execute a particular task that can earn you some rewards in the form of a sticker displayed on the background. Another bonus mode called The Arcade Mode, allows you to play three original arcade games, namely: Pac-Man, Galaga and Dig Dug. Needless to say, the inclusion of these games brings added allure to Pac-Man party as a whole.
I’m quite amazed at how Pac-Man Party manages to pack a lot of personality into the game even as it overflows with color and notwithstanding the meticulous details of the game worlds and fascinating Miis. One more delightful thing is the make-over that Pac-Man and the ghosts got in this title. I wasn’t impressed at first but am now swayed over by the personality enhancements. My one major disappointment is that I miss the presence of some Namco Bandai characters like Ms. Pac-Man and Pac, Jr. who have always been key staples in most Pac-Man series; they would have added more flavor as playable characters to an already enjoyable game.
I couldn’t help but notice the great care given to sound and music production. The tracks portray a sense of inspiration and may well be some of the greatest musical compositions ever arranged for a party game. Even the sound effects are efficiently presented very much in the same manner that the classic Pac-Man sounds are set – as random noises to represent speech of the characters.
Pac-Man is absolutely a total blast of a party game. It has received a lot of buzz because of its genuine and charming concept. The game is full of fun and excitement that’s even made more vibrant by its colors and personality. If you’re ready for another Wii party, better not miss the Pac-Man Party – you’re sure to have the time of your life.