The journey of our beloved Pac-Man from 2D to 3D has been one of mixed reviews. The Pac-Man World franchise was a spin off of the extremely popular and addicting arcade game, Pac-Man. Taking Pac-Man from his classic 2D world of patterns and ghosts, and throwing him into the 3D platforming genre has been an interesting ride for him to say the least. Now, Pac-Man Party 3D, a spin-off of Pac-Man World, has been released for the Nintendo 3DS, and it doesn’t fare much better.
Pac-Man Party 3D is essentially another party game with the board game premise built in. As Mario Party is the forerunner in this genre, Pac-Man Party is a simple, less complicated clone. Story Mode and Party Mode are essentially the same. Up to four players are allowed to play on each world or board with the goal to obtain a certain amount of cookies, which is the currency of the game. The only difference being you can customize the rules in Party Mode. It is more of a free play type mode, whereas Story Mode has certain rules.
Just like a board game, you will move a certain number of spaces, but instead of throwing the normal dice, players will play short mini games to determine how many spaces they can move. Along the way, players will encounter certain spaces that reward you and spaces that will hurt you. In each empty space you land on, your character will create a castle, which helps you get cookies each time you get around the board. Think Monopoly, except instead of houses and property, you own a castle and wear a crown.
Building up castles is the goal. By landing on consecutive spaces, the castle will gain a higher level, which takes up more spaces. Again, this will help you gain cookies and open more opportunities to you. As all players start building castles, if you land on an opponent’s castle, a mini game battle will ensue; these can help in a few ways. By landing on your enemy’s castle, players will have a chance to take possession of the castle by winning the mini game. On the other hand, if a player lands on your castle, you have to defend it. If successful, you win more cookies.
Pac-Man Party 3D does offer quite a selection of things to do. Along with the story and party modes mentioned above, there is also a mini-game mode, collection mode, classic games mode, and a local wireless mode. Each one presents different things to do. The mini-game mode is where the player can go to play all of the mini games available, whether you just want to practice or cure away the boredom with friends. The collection mode doesn’t really offer gameplay, but instead offers a look into the built-in achievements that the player has achieved. The Classic Games mode is exactly what it sounds like. It offers up three arcade titles from the past—Pac-Man, Galaga, and Dig Dug–that you can play anytime you want. Lastly, the local wireless mode allows you to play with up to three other players in local or download play.
Although Pac-Man Party 3D has many modes to play, it doesn’t bring much to the table that hasn’t been done. Whereas Mario Party has made a name for itself by integrating Mario elements and items into the series and offering up a great experience, Pac-Man Party 3D offers an experience that is the exact opposite. The actual board experience and building of castles is just a side note; Pac-Man Party focuses everything on the mini-games and the outcome of those mini games. With party games, the focus on mini games is always strong, but Pac-Man Party 3D focuses on the mini-games too much, which presents the biggest flaw in this game. Unfortunately, the mini-games that Pac-Man and all his ghostly friends get to compete in are sometimes pointless and very flawed.
The competition will always be there with this type of game, but it is hard to want to keep playing when you start to lose strings of mini games because the instructions weren’t that clear or the controls are a little strange. There are worse party games out there, but it’d be nice to see Pac-Man throwing it down again in the 3D world without flaws.
Although the mini-games were ridiculous at times, the game takes too long to play out. The game saves after each round and forces you to see the stats of each player before moving on to the next round. Unfortunately, that isn’t the only problem. Pac-Man Party 3D has some ridiculous load times as well. With the combination of load times and the save feature, it takes too long to get through each stage and creates a level of monotonous that will have players literally falling asleep between rounds.
As with all the 3D titles for the 3DS, people usually wonder how well it incorporates the 3D into the gameplay. In Pac-Man Party 3D, when the 3D is used, it brings a little extra fun to Pac-Man’s world, but it doesn’t always use the 3D throughout the game. Throughout the menus and intro battle screen, the 3D is turned off, which isn’t a plus. Although, it does take advantage of the 3D during the gameplay, its lack of 3D on everything else was a negative. In past 3DS games, it has been very cool to see how differently games have been designed to help the menu pop out. Unfortunately, you won’t get to see that on Pac-Man Party.
Honestly, there is only one mode that keeps this game from being forgettable–the Classic Games Mode. Although a little random, the mode offers three arcade classics in Pac-Man, Galaga, and Dig Dug. Without these three classics, players would be gritting their teeth and holding back strong words because of the frustration of slow load times and boring gameplay. Instead, it gives them a break from the frustration by providing three good, quality arcade titles that could keep them addicted for hours.
As Pac-Man makes his first appearance in the stereoscopic 3D world, fans will not be pleased. Although there are a ton of mini games, classic arcade titles, and download play, it has too many flaws to help Pac-Man make his comeback in the 3D world. Its slow load times, ridiculous save feature, and boring gameplay will have you searching your brain for old memories of playing Pac-Man and it still being fun.