Review By: Jared
status as one of the biggest icons in the industry, it was only
a matter of time before Pac-Man began branching out into other
genres like Mario has. Thus Pac-Man Fever, a party game
in the Mario Party mold has arrived. Unfortunately if Pac-Man
Fever is any indication he'll forever be playing second
fiddle to Nintendo's main man.
To be fair,
the gameplay is handled uniquely and feels somewhat fresh in an
otherwise stale genre. At the beginning of each turn all four
players participate in a mini-game. The order of finish in that
game determines how many spaces each player gets to move during
that turn (vs. rolling dice in Mario Party), with the
ultimate goal being to finish first. So it's really a race to
the finish, compared to Mario Party's goal of collecting the
most stars. Board spaces include token spaces (used to buy
mini-games for play by themselves), springs (forward or backward
a number of spaces), ghosts (steal tokens), Challenge (challenge
another player for tokens), and other spaces similar to other
party games out there.
mini-games feature a wide range of different types, but in the
end they're all similar to other party games out there too. They
include Button Matching games (press the buttons shown on
screen), Shooting games, Collecting games (get as many of an
object as possible), Sports games (Homerun Castle is my
favorite), and finally Driving games (race while collecting
fruit). The settings and objectives are different, but in the
end there are no mini-games that stand out as really being
innovative and unique to the genre.
is really nothing more than a watered-down clone of Mario
Party, albeit with a couple of minor differences. This is no
more apparent than in the character roster. Playable characters
include Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Reiko (Ridge Racer), Astaroth
(Soul Calibur), Tiger (Tekken), and Heihachi (Tekken). Pac-Man
and Ms. Pac-Man are certainly are certainly strong characters
(even without a lot of personality), but the rest are certainly
no match for the likes of Donkey Kong, Wario, Yoshi, etc. I
realize that Namco doesn't have a roster of characters as strong
as Nintendo, so I'm not really holding that against them too
What is a
shame is that on Namco's own roster there are stronger
characters that could've been included. Where's Klonoa? Where's
the guy from Dead to Rights? Mr. Driller? Any leads from Tales
of Destiny or Xenosaga? Namco's roster will never
match one from Nintendo, but any of these choices would've been
better choices then some of the ones included. Heck, they
could've just thrown them all in there…it's not as if they
play that differently anyway. Overall the roster is acceptable,
but for a "Battle of the Namco Stars" it sure is
missing a lot of important characters.
are pretty simple, but that's to be expected in a party game
(and esp. in a Pac-Man game). Colors are vibrant, objects are
sharp, and each game board is diverse. Unfortunately, with only
three different generic boards to choose from Medieval, Space,
and Tropical) there's not a lot of room for graphic variety.
There's nothing wrong here, but it also isn't that impressive.
The sound is
similar. The music is light, airy, and upbeat, as you'd expect
in a party game. Sound effects are pretty basic as well, but
follow the Pac-Man motif and fit in well. Again, nothing wrong
here but also not that impressive.
approach in the genre, with mini-game performance
determining the number of spaces moved in a turn.
- Sound and
graphics are pleasant and functional, which is what really
matters in this genre.
mini-games, and not really a dud in the game.
selection is somewhat sparse, even among Namco's own
franchises. I don’t understand why they didn't just throw
all of them in there, given the relative weakness of some of
the characters. Fewer, and weaker, characters than Mario
mini-games stand out as being innovative or different from
what we've seen before.
- Gotta have
a multi-tap to really enjoy it to the fullest.
It's not as if
this isn't a good game, because it is. I appreciate the different
approach to moving around on the game board, and I think that with
some tweaking this could become a major Namco franchise. Mario
Party is the king in this genre though, and almost every
element is weaker here. Fewer boards, fewer characters, the need
for a multi-tap, and less overall personality makes for less fun.
If you don't
own a GameCube, have a multi-tap already, and have several friends
you can play against often, then Pac-Man Fever might be
worth picking up. Otherwise, there's really no reason to get it.
Party games have never been good single-player games, and Mario
Party 4 is the superior choice (without the need for extra
hardware) for multiple console owners.