Assuming that Pac-Man has been eating these cookies all this time, how do you explain the ghosts? I've seen a lot of scary movies and never has a ghost been motivated by cookies. After all, ghosts don't eat; they just float around being all non-corporeal and menacing. Why would ghosts want to stop Pac-Man from taking the original recipe to the rightful owner? What stake do they have in this fight? The whole premise would make more sense if Pac was headed to hire the Ghostbusters or something, but I don't understand the problem with cookies.
Either way, cookies play a major part in this game. Not only is the object of the game to collect as many cookies as possible, but players will pick up special power cookies along the way. These power cookies give the player a significant advantage in the competitive mini-games. In a close match it can be the difference between winning and losing. I really like the idea of these power-ups, even if the concept of a power cookie feels ludicrous as best. I'm pretty sure I've heard Pac-Man refer to these objects as "Power Pellets," which throws into question the continuity of this franchise.
Pac-Man Party suffers from many of the same problems that plagued the annual Mario Party sequels. For one thing, this game is a disastrous single-player game. The only way to enjoy this game is to have several friends over, and even then you'll have to put up with rounds that overstay their welcome. Pac Party offers us a short and long version of each board, but don't be fooled, there's nothing short about these rounds. Even the shortest round will take over an hour, longer if your friends start getting bored half way through.
I'm also disappointed with the presentation. It's not just the fact that Pac-Man is shoehorned into a generic world, but rather how everybody looks and moves. The ghosts all have weird hairstyles and questionable moves, while Pac-Man never quite looks right. Namco also missed an opportunity to remix popular songs from some of their past arcade hits. The level of lazy programming is enough to leave a bad taste in your mouth.
It's worth mentioning that Pac-Man Party is not the only game packaged on this Wii disc. For some inexplicable reason the original Pac-Man, Dig Dug and Galaga are featured in their full arcade glory. These games do a lot to remind players that Pac-Man used to be a relevant video game character. Judging by Pac-Man Party, those days are long gone.
I would be lying if I said that I had no fun with Pac-Man Party. Some of the mini-games are compelling and I had a reasonably good time battling my friends for cookies. But I found myself ultimately disappointed by the overall quality. I was also disappointed to learn that this is not Pac's first go at the party circuit. Judging by how generic this game is, I can only imagine the train wreck that was Pac-Man Fever. There are some good ideas here, but Namco still has a lot to learn about making a quality mini-game collection.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.
Pac-Man Party has a lot of the right elements, but Namco wasn't able to fit them together to make a worthwhile game. The end result is a board game that overstays its welcome and forces players to suffer through one uninspired mini-game after another. Not even the addition of the original Pac-Man arcade game can push me into recommending this generic Mario Party clone!
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