Namco Bandai is celebrating Pac-Man’s 30th birthday with a party game of his own. The appropriately named Pac-Man Party will be released Fall 2010 on Nintendo Wii. I got to play an early build of the game recently, and I am sure you know how the whole party game thing works. In almost every party game, there are mini-games and there is a metagame to tie it all together. So, how does Pac-Man Party set itself apart from your typical Mario Party? It may be a little too early to tell, since I only played an early build, but I think I have a good idea.
Like I said, I only played an early build, so some animations were missing and some of the mini-games I played were still being tweaked. The game takes place on a board game and players move ahead onto spaces with the goal of taking them over. For the sake of convenience, each round has every player take their turn to move ahead on the board at the same time. How do you move forward in Pac-Man Party? There aren’t any dices, but instead, there are quick micro-mini games that occur to determine how many spaces you will advance. One of these consisted of floating balloons with numbers painted on them. The balloons would float upwards and all the players would scramble to shoot the balloons with the biggest numbers using the Wii-remote’s pointer controls. The numbered balloon you hit is the number of spaces you will take. I thought this worked out very well, because the game depended a bit more on skill rather than on the randomness of a die. A different micro mini-game took place before each round, and although there were a few that were a bit more luck based than others, it was nice to see something different after every round.
Pac-Man Party is heavily based on taking over spaces. When you land on a space, you take it over. But, let’s say you and another player land on the same space. What happens then? After everyone has advanced on the board, a mini-game takes place. There, you and your space buddy compete for that very space. The interesting thing is that if you can come in third place and your enemy of the round comes in fourth after the given mini-game, you win the space. It’s more about strategy and more about who you’re really competing with.
Speaking of mini-games, in the party mode, you can earn “power balls” that can be used during mini-games to give you an extra advantage. For example: You use a power-ball during a mini-game that requires speed, it would give you an extra speed boost. The power-balls vary on what they do depending on what the mini-game is about. The mini-games in Pac-Man Party varied with different control schemes and different events. Nothing different here at all from your generic party game mini-games.
After sitting down to play Pac-Man Party for a few minutes, I have to say that it is looking like it will be a solid party game. It could have done more to set itself apart from the billions of other party games, but I guess this was the safe route. We will be bringing you more news on the title as its release draws nearer.