Pac-Man Party 3D - 3DS

Release Date:

10 February 2012

Also on:

3DS Wii

Viewing UK:

Also on USA.


Similar in concept to Nintendo's Mario Party series, Pac-Man Party 3D is a board game starring Namco's dot-munching mascot and his colorful friends. Like Mario Party, you'll play one of over 50 competitive mini-games after your selected character lands on a space. Featured activities include variants of tennis, fishing, cake decorating, target shooting, and more, with controls that incorporate the touch screen, face buttons, and gyroscope. Pac-Man Party 3D also supports up to four players via Download Play from a single cartridge or by alternating turns on the same handheld.

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'Pac-Man Party 3D' was developed by Namco Bandai Games for the Nintendo 3DS. The title seeks to capitalize on the goodwill churned up by the titular character, Pac-Man. Released in 2011, the game was designed in replacement of the ill fated 'Pac-Man Carnival'. This is a party game not unlike many of the succesful 'Mario Party' games. With Nintendo easily utilizing that genre to extend their classic franchises, we shouldn't be surprised to see other companies give it a shot. still, we went into this handheld party game with a fair amount of trepidation on our side. What we found after our time with the game was done reaffirmed our initial fears. Keep reading to find out why 'Pac-Man Party 3D' should, or shouldn't, be added to your gaming library.

When we looked at 'Pac-Man Party 3D' we were pretty sure that we knew exactly what we were getting, we just hoped that we'd be getting a better version of it than we feared. As we mentioned above, it is hard not to admire the success that Nintendo has had with the branding of their flagship character Mario. He seamlessly falls into an array of different genres that range from RPG titles all the way to sports and party games. 'Pac-Man Party 3D' is Namco's attempt to do something similar. Using the iconic 'characters' from the 'Pac-Man' universe, 'Pac-Man Party 3D' seeks to essentially clone the 'Mario Party' franchise, only the team failed to capture the heart and frenetic energy that fuels it.

You can play 'Pac-Man Party' with your friends, provided they have a 3DS and a copy of the game, or by yourself in the story mode. Either way you do it the beginning stays the same. Players are launched on one of three different game boards. Once on these boards they are assigned a target number of 'cookies'. Cookies essentially are icon swaps of the stars and coins that we are familiar with from 'Mario Party'. Once you find out how many cookies you have to collect the game gets into full gear. Players move around the board, determining their number of moves per turn via mini games and lucky encounters. We'll touch briefly on the minigames now. Each minigame runs about 30 seconds total and involves either timing or luck in order to win them. You'll have slot machines, dart throws, races and much more of those sorts of experiences. Do well in the minigame and you will walk away with a nice handful of cookies.

In the game there are three different modes that you can play on your own. The story mode combines all of the available boards and mashes them together for one overarching plot: In Pac-land someone is attempting to take steal the secret recipe of the most delicious, tasty, and rare cookie in the entire world. In order to stop that from going down, the recipe is handed off to Pac-Man to keep safe. Things go predictably wrong when the Ghosts that we know and love swoop in, steal the recipe, and go speeding off. Thus begins the admittedly flimsy storyline that would have you play minigames with your enemy rather than just take back what is yours. What can we say. Pac-land isn't known for its twists and turns in the drama department.

Parrty mode lets you play through the different boards from the Story Mode without having to follow the actual plot. You can play as any character, and play against any characters that you choose. This is a simple no-frills way to play the game and it feels as dull as it sounds. Without the flimsy story there to push you forward it feels like a pointless exercise.

The final available single player mode is the Minigames Mode. Here you can play through the 50 different minigames in whatever order you like, and with however many players you want to play with. Since all of the minigames are unlocked, and there is no board to play with, you compete for points instead. Despite the short duration of the minigames, this mode still manages to drag on entirely too long.

Despite the flexibility of the different available game modes, we still had trouble finding something to entertain us. The biggest issue we had, and it was apparent in all three game modes, was that the experience felt slow and dated. The games moved like a slow board game. You spend time watching mini actions, cut scenes, and castles being built and torn down. The animations begin to get grating and you can't skip any of them. Not even to mention the fact that the AI takes forever (seemingly) to actually make a choice on their turn. The wait times are just too long for a game that should be snappy and entertaining. We also found that some of the minigames were unresponsive to our controls. Shooting games and motion based games don't feel responsive enough for us to believe that they are final products. It begins to be readily apparent that this was a lazy port of an unpopular Wii game.

We DID like how multiplayer as accessed. You can play with up to three other friends provided you all have a 3DS. As it turns out, you don't need to each have your own individual copy of the game. This means that only one person has to buy the game for everyone to enjoy it. This is probably the biggest highlight of the experience and it makes up for the fact that there is no online play.

Namco also threw in three of their classic titles: Dig Dug, Galaga, and Pac-Man. You can play these games on your 3DS in their original incarnation. They only appear on your top screen, though, so you might be thrown off if they look a little bit smaller.

'Pac-Man Party 3D' on the 3DS as it turns out, is a vanilla affair. There isn't enough going on here to differentiate it from the pack, and what it steals from better games it doesn't accomplish well.

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