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Pac-Man Party 3D Review

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On 11/24/2011 at 12:00 PM by Patrick Kijek

Your children's children might like it.

For your children or your children's children. Make sure whoever plays this has friends who want to play it, too. It's the best way. If you are an extremely devout Pac-Man fan, you might like this.

Pac-Man has a lot going for himself, but most of it just isn’t in this game. The best point of the cartridge for older gamers will probably be portable versions of classic Pac-Man, Galaga, and Dig Dug. While there are a few saving graces to Pac-Man Party, the problems outweigh its finer points. After a few games in party mode, it becomes apparent that the game could have used a few more months of polish.

Pac-Man Party 3D is somewhat like a board game where the goal is to collect a predetermined number of cookies. Its default number is set to 12,000, although you can play for many more cookies if you change the settings before starting a game in Party mode. You can play for more than 12,000 cookies (you just won’t want to). If you play up to 75,000 cookies, the family fun will last a couple of hours (but it'll be torture for older players). At the beginning of each round, one of four micro-games will decide the number of moves each player will take . Dropping a Plinko ball, shooting balloons, stopping a slot machine or throwing darts actually allow players to choose their own destinies with a modest amount of skill. Each player accumulates cookies by landing on spaces and building castles, or by taking castles away from players who already own them. Landing on vacant spaces will build a castle for the player.

If a competitor owns a castle and another person lands on the space, a battle will occur. During the next round of mini-games, a screen will point out each attacker and defender. If the attacker plays the game better than the defender, the attacker gains the house. If the defender wins, a fair amount of the attacker’s cookies are won. The winner keeps the castle unless you lose all of your cookies, at which point you lose your castle; if the winner happens to be a player who isn’t attacking or defending, the competitor will earn a power cookie that temporarily strengthens the player in a mini. When the player wins a new castle, adjacent squares owned by the same player connect to each other. Every time you land on a castle you own, you’ll gain 100 cookies per square connected to the castle. Each lap you make around the board will grant you more cookies as well, plus a bonus for the amount of castles owned.

In small doses and with friends Pac-Man Party 3D wouldn’t be that bad, yet the game gets too repetitive for a marathon. More than a fair share of the mini-games (from henceforth I'll simply dub them 'minis') will annoy the heck out of you, but there are a handful of good ones. Once in awhile you’ll get to play the on-rails competitive shooter within a haunted house. The player who shoots the most pumpkins wins! Nevertheless, even the AI on the hardest level allows you to win at the last second if you jam on the trigger. Every one of the boss battles is a lot of fun to play, limited to once per game. For instance Captain Tentacle, who magically sinks spaces on the board temporarily, will eventually challenge all of the players to attack him with spears from their canoes. It’s one of the few moments where all of the enemies work together, and the winner is the one who hits the captain in the tentacle or head the most. More minis of this caliber would have padded the experience with quality.

Special event spaces put a twist on an otherwise bland map layout. There’s Millionaire’s Manor, where the privileged player gets cookies from all players. If you touch the right box, which happens most of the time, you’ll go right to the cookie factory. You can also get 500 cookies from the mansion just for looking hungry. The best perk would have to be taking cookies from the player in first place; this helped me to come back from a 9,000 cookie deficit.

Alas, not all of the event spaces can be treats. At Tarot’s tent, bad things sometimes happen. Causing a hassle will lose you a castle. Beggars can’t be choosers, meaning you’ll become a cookie loser (-500 cookies). You might even lose a power cookie! If you’re lucky, the fortune teller will occasionally give you a castle.

Some of the games are pretty flawed: the minis where you tilt your screen to control your hovercraft or “water bike” don’t actually punish the players who fail early on during the mini. Those players will recover repeatedly without picking up speed boosts. Sorry if you enjoy winning based on skill: in this type of game, even if you use a power cookie, there’s no guarantee that you’ll win. Sometimes you just have to pump a balloon until it bursts and hope you aren’t the one who pops it. Other times you’ll just be bored out of your mind eating desserts until some one makes a bomb explode. By and large, if they don’t annoy you, the minis will bore you. Luckily, these games have been spiced up with a bit of plot.

In story mode, you’ll be introduced to all of the rules and characters of the party. Each board is a mixture of Monopoly and Mario Party. It’s too bad that they took all three of the board designs from Monopoly, which is to say they all are either a square or rectangular shape. Pretty boring.

Even so, the story mode is more about the interaction between Pac-Man, the four ghosts, and a few new or obscure characters (an artistic princess/cat named Petra, an artificial intelligence named Roger, and an abominable snowman named Woofa). In the little time where story mode expands on its characters, you learn a few traits about each character, like how Pac-Man drools over thinking about cookies at Temple or how Blinky always breaks his promises to Pac-Man and steals the cookie recipe. In the end, story mode is really Pac-Man’s brief quest through three stages to find the recipe that Mr. Cookie sent him in a letter. Pac-Man supposedly can only get the recipe back if he wins; the future of good cookie making depends on it.

While the story may be whimsical and meant for youngsters, nobody should have to play through some of Pac-Man Party’s flaws. If two people attack someone’s castle and both beat the defender, but achieved the same score in the mini-game, neither of them gets it. It stays with the owner, even though they lost. Fair and square? I think not! Then you have the load times, which will get under your skin after a few games . After every mini there will be three stages of saving. First the game will say it’s saving itself. Then you will look at a picture of the landscape for no apparent reason. Occasionally, a black screen with Pac-Man holding balloons in the corner will appear, too.

Even though it saves after every move, when you load your game again, it usually takes you back a few turns. Once, after I won a game, exited, then played other modes on the cartridge and turned off the game, I booted up party mode again, only to see my previous game - still in progress - even though I had just won. Where did my win go? I’m not sure, yet I’ve still got achievements in Collection Mode from after I won. Don’t expect much from achieving your goals: you receive small, almost illegible artwork. Lame party, Pac-Man.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



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