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Pac-Man Party 3D

Score: 72%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: NAMCO BANDAI Games America
Developer: Namco Tales Studio
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Board Games/ Action/ Mini-Games

Graphics & Sound:

The graphics in Pac-Man Party 3D are cute and colorful and try to convey the spirit of Pac-Man, but it's a difficult sell with this type of game. The classic characters like Inky, Blinky, Pinky, Clyde and Pac-Man himself, however, are faithfully represented and the new additions, Patra, Roger and Woofa, are cute as well.

The game can be played in 3D or in 2D, but honestly, the 3D felt more like a gimmick rather than an integral part of the game. For me, the 3D was more distracting than anything else and I opted to play it in 2D more often than not.

The sound effects leave a little bit to be desired. While the music is pleasant and upbeat, the voices, which consist of little more than chirps, giggles, bleeps and single syllable words, can get annoying quickly. At least the background music is nice and works well for the different levels.


Gameplay:

Pac-Man Party 3D is a strange game. It's a board game that you play digitally by engaging in bunches of mini-games in an attempt to secure places on the board, like Monopoly. You will play against 3 others, either CPU-controlled, 3 friends where you pass the 3DS around or 3 other people who have the game, and you will go through a series of mini-games in an attempt to secure a certain number of cookies (not pellets, as we've always been taught are associated with Pac-Man).

Each player (whether human- or CPU-controlled) takes a turn spinning what is essentially a slot machine to determine the number of spaces he/she can move, and then each takes their move (the game does all of the moving for all characters for you). Depending on where they land, they will either take over an open space or battle someone for a space if they land on one already occupied by another player. The winner gets to place their castle on this spot and the goal is to fill the board's spaces with your castles and to level them up by landing on your own castle over and over again.

When a battle ensues, you'll play one of many mini-games to see who comes out the victor. These can be anything from a plinko-type game, a game of darts thrown at balloons, a bag toss derivative, a wide number of gesture-based games and many more. Unfortunately, the mini-games just aren't that much fun. They only last a few seconds each and the premise of the board game to string them together is just weak. Sometimes players will land on a square that gives them a special reward, like taking cookies from all of the other players. When this happens, you must sit there watching while they select their prize and play out their move. It's just dull to sit around and watch other players as they go through the motions.


Difficulty:

There is no selectable difficulty in Pac-Man Party 3D. The mini-games that you will encounter are fairly easy in concept, but it seems as though the CPU cheats a great deal. In the dart-throwing game, for instance, it always seemed as though one of the CPU-controlled players (Patra, specifically) would get the maximum points. Some of the games had a few control issues, like using the thumb stick to get an object to hit its target, whereas others just didn't seem to work really well for the DS (as this game was originally a Wii title). Overall, the game was not exceedingly difficult, just frustrating and not fun.

When you and another character engage in a battle with two opposing characters, an image comes up of all four characters separated by a giant "X" with each character in one quadrant. I never could tell who was supposed to be on "my team" though. While this wasn't "difficult" per se, it certainly didn't help to clarify things.


Game Mechanics:

A wide variety of game controls are used in Pac-Man Party 3D, at least there are a wide variety of game types and they use different controls. What this means is that if you pick up your stylus ready to play a mini-game, chances are you'll need to quickly drop it and use the face buttons instead. Then as soon as it is over, you have to pick up the stylus again. This is a real drag and was definitely a detractor for the game. Sure, the instructions prior to the mini-game tell you which you will be using, but you still need to tap Start with a stylus, then possibly drop it to jump onto the face buttons. It was just an added annoyance.

While a few of the mini-games were somewhat fun, like the one where you must furiously twirl spaghetti to make the biggest pasta ball, most seemed derivative and dull. Pac-Man is a classic gaming icon and he just didn't live up to his full potential in Pac-Man Party 3D. While I thought it was nice to include the classic games of Dig-Dug, Pac-Man, and Galaga as an additional option in Pac-Man Party 3D, and there is a wide assortment of mini-games that you can play on the fly without having to fool with the board game part of it, Pac-Man Party 3D just felt like more of a dud to me than anything else. While there is a slight 3D aspect when you are playing, I think this game was better left on the Wii. Unless you are really craving a bunch of Pac-Man themed mini-games, you'd do better passing on this one.


-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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