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Posted by Staff on Mar 13, 2012 10:01 (Mar 13, 2012 10:01)

Written by: Alex
Pac-Man 3D:
"Pac-Man Party 3D" is a port of the Pac-Man Party Wii game. It is always a strange move to take game predicated on group enjoyment and scale it down for the more personal handheld experience. That however is what Namco Bandai have done and in the process missed the point of both party games and portable gaming.
It is hard to shoehorn a story on to the lead character of a now 32 year-old maze game. While in his time Pac-Man has graced many a spin off, he has always been at his best munching power pills and gobbling ghosts. Attempts at add any form of context to this have come off as half hearted attempts to turn the character in to something less than he is, an icon of gaming.
In it’s defence Pac-Man Party 3D falls into the story trap with gusto, making use of every possible element of Pac-Man ‘lore’ to create a frame work for its antics. Pac-Man is given a secret cookie recipe that he is sworn to protect, but within seconds of receiving it one of his ghost nemeses (Blinky I think) swoops in and snatches it from him. The yellow hero give chase through a board game world inexplicably obeying rules and doing laps as he chases down the ghoul, in a situation more akin to play ground bullying than a plot. After each board a new land is opened, and the game begins anew with different opponents.
Gameplay - Board:
Pac-Man Party 3D is divided in to two very clear sections; board and mini-games. Success in both of these adds to the total number of cookies held by each character, while failure can lead to cookies being lost. The goal is simply to be the first to reach a set number of cookies.
Pac-Man Party 3D 3DS screenshot #1
Coming to Pac-Man Party 3D my most relevant touchstone was Mario Party. Where the Mario Party boards are twisty exciting paths of mayhem, Namco-Bandai’s offering takes a more traditional square approach akin to Monopoly. To move, rather than rolling a dice one of four number selecting mini-games plays out, random but offering a hint of skill to the dedicated. Landing on a space erects a castle meaning subsequent laps will see this castle expand if adjacent spaced also occupied. Larger castles mean larger cookie bonuses.
These castle squares are separated by a variety of event squares that will add cookies or change the situation of the board (be it player position or the nature of the environment). These add to the ‘randomness’ all such party games offer, designed to offset player skill to enable families to play together but not so good for single player handheld fun. 
Gameplay - Mini Games:
The meat of the game comes from contesting castle squares. Landing on another player’s castles will initiate a mini-game to fight for the deed to the castle and the chance for some extra cookies. Importantly Pac-Man Party 3D offers a fair range of mini-games ranging from entertaining and skill based to unfair and random. These utilise both buttons and touch screen depending on the game (sometimes with good reason sometimes arbitrarily) and while some proved entertaining all to many seemed felt stale.
Pac-Man Party 3D 3DS screenshot #2
With a large range of games on offer it can take ages for a game to resurface during normal play, and all too often it feels like the wrong ones bubble to the surface. I would frequently find myself furious at Pac-Man Party 3D as at a vital moment it would decide to throw in a mini-game based on chance, or that it knew I was useless at, robbing me of an already see-sawing victory. I do see the point of not always directly linking these games with skill for group play, but in the AI controlled matches the timing seemed uniformly unfair. 
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Pac-Man Party 3D
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