Pac-Man turns 30 this year, and it's time for a decent birthday party, several new characters and a bunch of minigames. Pac-Man Party is basically Mario Party with Mario swapped out. While this won't be the first time Pac-Man has gone down this route, Namco is being notably more loyal to the surprising amount of story that has developed around its pill-addicted mascot.
Like later Mario Party entries, Pac-Man Party has a full story line — including three new characters, such as the slightly dog-like Wolfa — as Pac-Man explores various islands and meets new people. Any single minigame can also be rapidly played (no need to unlock them!) while a full party mode, with themed boards and a metascore for the match, provides for longer group play sessions.
The games are fairly varied and mix various control schemes and styles. In the sample I played, there was a simple "shake the Wii Remote more than anyone else" game, along with a "run from the conveyor belt" challenge that forced players to get over and around increasingly massive and quick-moving piles of stuff. The last man standing wins, and there's no time limit. All games can be varied by turning on or off Power Cookies, which can be picked up in various ways to modify play. Namco Bandai's rep promised that everything would be getting various elements of polish to bring things up to a higher quality level than Pac-Man Fever, Namco's previous effort.
Overall, Pac-Man Party doesn't seem to be anything more than its name: a party game with a Pac-Man theme for Wii owners. Time will tell if this is one worth adding to the casual gamers' collection. They're also including the original arcade versions of Dig-Dug, Galaga and Pac-Man (the former two also showing up as elements in certain minigames), and these nostalgic additions might make the title a worthy pick-up for hardcore gamers as well.
More articles about Pac-Man Party