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Party games are often where franchises go to either die or try to make an easy buck. Pac-Man Party doesn't seal Pac-Man's future as dead, but it sure makes us hope this isn't where he plans to stay.
Pac-Man Party offers three game modes: single player story mode, multiplayer party mode, and individual minigames. The single-player mode starts off on the right foot with a fun game board in which players land on blank spaces to build castles and land on other players' castles to steal them. In order to steal or defend a castle, you must win a minigame that the other two players are allowed to play for bonus points. Thus, minigames are abundant and often played more than three times per round.
Unfortunately, this brief summary is actually the entire game. While there are quite a few (52) minigames and they are certainly the best part of the game, the lack of variety in game boards, players, or other extras harms much of the replay value inherent with most party games. The animations and sounds are initially fun and entertaining, but once we realized they are the only sounds and animations, they became maddeningly annoying.
There are five game boards, but they all follow the same formula: blank squares, bonus squares, and if the board is circumvented enough, a boss battle occurs. Regrettably, different boards are only a matter of aesthetics. Also, features designed to make the game competitive often make it drag on way too long. At one point, we had 40,000 points out of the required 16,000 but we still had to circle the entire board another time to win. To further reduce replay value, no high score feature is offered. Many minigames have either a time or an amount value associated with them, but there is no way to track these scores and brag to your friends.
Our favorite part of Pac-Man Party was definitely the minigames, which were unique, fun, and challenging. Coupled with variety in other aspects of the game, it would've been a great game with fantastic replay value. However, as it exists now, the game will quickly grow dull even if you're playing with three friends and a few drinks.
Dec 3, 2010