I don’t understand how Pac-Man Party and Pac-Man Championship Edition DX came from the same publisher at around the same time. The difference in quality and fun between the two titles is staggering. Pac-Man CE DX is a fun step forward from the reinvention of the original Pac-Man that was Pac-Man CE. Pac-Man Party, on the other hand, is Namco’s attempt to make Mario Party but just different enough that the folks over at Nintendo don’t threaten legal action.
Pac-Man Party’s three modes are single-player, party, and mini-games. Single-player has you, as Pac-Man, playing through each of the game’s five boards in an attempt to collect cookies and make Blinky give you back the cookie recipe. You roll the die, move the set number of spaces, and build castles on free spaces. When your opponent lands on your castle he owes you rent and then you have a battle mini-game to determine who owns the castle from there on. The mini-games all feel like rehashes of Mario Party mini-games with Pac-Man characters subbed in for Mario ones.
Multiplayer is the single-player game on a single board (instead of a progression through all five boards) with friends instead of AI ghosts. Play takes too long, and the mini-games are repetitive which makes the whole experience drag on. To complete the “short” game one player needs to collect 12,000 cookies. You only get about 200 for winning a mini-game so this takes a good, long while. Combine that with rehashes of mini-games you’ve already played, and the uninteresting Monopoly-inspired mechanic of paying one another rent and you’ve got a game you’ll only really want to keep around for the classic arcade games.
Pac-Man Party’s saving grace, if it has one, is the inclusion of three Namco classics: Pac-Man, Galaga, and Dig Dug. These three classics are emulated well and play just like you remember. Granted, if you want Pac-Man, Galaga, and Dig Dug there are far cheaper ways to obtain them that don’t come with a party game you’ll never choose over Mario’s own offering on the Wii. Pac-Man Party is a pass on all fronts. If you want to support Namco and Pac-Man I can’t recommend the two Pac-Man Championship Edition titles available on Xbox Live Arcade enough – that is what Pac-Man ought to be doing and what you ought to be playing.
Pros: Includes classic Pac-Man, Galaga, and Dig Dug in case you don’t already have them.
Cons: Repetitive mini-games, Games take too long, power pellets have been replaced by cookies for no good reason.