Mario, Sonic, Crash Bandicoot, Bomberman…it's tough to think of a high profile video game character that doesn't have its own multiplayer mini-game collection. And now get Pac-Man on that list because for the guy's 30th birthday Namco Bandai is throwing him a party on the Wii in just a few weeks time.
I will say I am a purist for Pac-Man (he's really just a yellow pie with a slice missing to me), so it's really awkward to play a game where not only he is fully anthropomorphized but his ghost buddies are now sporting attitudes and hairdos to match. Eh, it's not like this is the first time, what with games like Pac-Land and Pac-Man 2 under Namco's belt and all.
Luckily there are full emulations of Namco classics like the arcade Pac-Man, Dig Dug, and Galaga so if you want the pure Pac-Man game you're going to get it in Pac-Man Party.
But this is all about the party experience, just as it is in Mario Party and Wii Party: it's a multiplayer minigame compilation with a board game core tying them all together. Here, players try to earn a set amount of cookies (yes, Pac-Man dots are now sweet treats) by romping across the board owning spots as they land on them. Each spot will have a castle built upon it as the player lands on it, sort of like a Monopoly hotel, and the higher the level, the bigger the castle will spread. You can have a four-space claim if you're strong enough, and when you reach the Cookie house (essentially the "Go" space on the board) you'll earn cookies based on how much of the board you own.
The game doesn't depend on a random-based roll of the die. Instead, each turn uses a different mechanic to earn spaces: drop your character into a "Plinko" machine, or pop numbered balloons with a thrown dart, or hit "stop" on a slot machine. It's still luck focused, but there's also a bit of skill involved if you're trying for a specific number of spaces.
If an opposing player lands on the space, you're whisked to one of the several dozen mini-games where the battling player attempts to claim that space for his own, the owner defending it. Between the Attacker and the Defender, winner takes the space, but the other two players are there to earn cookies if they win.
There are a wide range of mini-games of various Wii remote controls. There's one where you have to fling your character through a platform environment using the Wii pointer to snap him like a rubberband. Another, you're on jet skis and you simply accelerate with the A button…but if you speed through a turn you'll fly off your craft. In another, you'll slice incoming fruit as they're tossed at you by swinging the Wii remote. Each of the mini-games can be played outside of the main board game if you just want to jump in and play a round or two.