The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Pac-Man is a fairly vaporous character. There just isn’t much to his personality. When we first met, all he cared about was eating, but I was fine with that simple, one-dimensional characterization. The more I learned about the guy in his proceeding games, the less I cared about him. He doesn’t immediately offend me, or anything; he’s just not the first guy I’d invite to my party. As it turns out, I wouldn’t be offended if he forgot to invite me to his.
It seems that Pac-Man has been to a few of Nintendo’s events, because this game plays like a Mario Party title, and it’s not bashful about it. Similar to 2002’s Pac-Man Fever, up to four players take turns moving around a board, building castles, and participating in minigames. As you circle the board you level up your castles, and players who land on your square have to cough up a paycheck. Pac-Man has also brought plenty of cookies to this feast. Not only is amassing cookies the game’s main goal, but the single-player story revolves around some idiotic plot to retrieve a cookie recipe. Still, don’t concern yourself with that; you shouldn’t be playing this game alone.
Pac-Man party contains 45 minigames, which turns out to be about the right amount. I rarely ran across the same minigame twice in a single board. The events themselves range from the annoying (a dance game where you move the controller in sync to a synth beat stolen from a Casio keyboard), to the entertaining (a tennis game where you hit balls back at an automated serving machine) to the downright bizarre (a game where you throw javelins across a field of floating meat and vegetables to make BBQ skewers). If one minigame doesn’t tickle your fancy, chances are the next one will prove entertaining. Plus, if you ever run into a minigame you just can’t get a handle on, you can always eat a power cookie to gain a ridiculously overpowered advantage that round. This doesn’t necessarily make the game fair. Power cookies are only amusing when you are using them; the rest of the time you’ll be cursing their existence.
Unfortunately, the AI seems a little inconsistent. It will let you walk all over it during the simpler challenges, but acts like a virtuoso during some of the harder events. However, even when playing the game with real friends you’ll discover that the game isn’t always fair. In one round, an opponent can win one minigame and steal a castle you’d been building up the entire game. Dozens of other random events have players constantly stealing cookies from each other, shifting castle ownership, or moving their pieces to other parts of the map.
The disc does include arcade classics like Pac-Man, Galaga, and Dig Dug, but I’d rather party with those guys by myself. Pac-Man Party isn’t a raging bash; it’s something to do on a Thursday night while you wait for your weekend plans to roll around. The game’s catalog of random events might cause some uproar among your friends, and its inconsistent minigames will result in uneven applause. It comes down to the fact that Pac-Man Party just isn’t the most exciting game to pull out at your own party.
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