Pac-Man Party Hands-On

Pac-Man may have just turned 30, but this ghost-munching video game icon proves that he still has what it takes.

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Originally known as Puck Man, Pac-Man has been around for three decades and has gone through several makeovers. He most recently landed on Google's main page, which apparently resulted in the loss of millions of dollars for many companies due to the decline in productivity for that day. Over the years, there have been plenty of different arcade versions as well as video games for this yellow ball of fun, and now Namco Bandai has added another version to the mix with Pac-Man Party for the Wii. During the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, we were able to play some Pac-Man minigames while celebrating this gaming icon's 30th birthday.

Similar to the minigame compilation Mario Party, Pac-Man Party is set up like a board game with minigames thrown in. Story mode lets you play through the game solo and learn about the characters in Pac-Man's history, such as Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde, as well as newer faces like Woofa, Patra, and Roger. If you'd rather just grab three of your friends and play through Party mode, you can do just that and jump in the game. The goal of the board game is to accumulate a certain number of cookies, which you set when the game starts. Instead of rolling dice, there are various interactive ways for everyone to determine how many spaces they move around the board. Sometimes you'll be throwing darts, sometimes it's just dropping random balls into a bin. Regardless, the point is to make sure everyone is doing something so you're not just taking turns and waiting around for other people.

The board is an empty piece of land at first, and each time you land on a free space, you'll quickly construct a castle. This space is now yours, at least up until someone else lands on it, at which point you're forced into a minigame where you'll need to defend it. Owning more land helps you earn cookies, so it's beneficial to take over as much space as possible. More than 45 minigames are available, and they could also be played in minigame mode.

There were only a handful of minigames available, but they ranged from twirling pizzas with the Wii Remote, to jumping over a mound of trash that's being pushed along a conveyer belt. One of the simpler games is fishing, which is all about waiting for the right moment to yank your pole out of the water. Another minigame we checked out was a competition to see who could build up enough carbonation by shaking a soda bottle (Wii Remote) to eventually launch himself into the air. The games may not be complicated, but the animations are goofy and entertaining to watch. For younger players who could use a bit of help, you can use cookies during the minigames to power up your character temporarily to give you an advantage. For example, during a paint roller minigame, where the goal was to try to paint the most surface area, your roller would end up being wider than the others.

Also included in Pac-Man Party is the original classic Pac-Man as well as Galaga and Dig Dug. It's a nice way of showing kids of this generation how far video games have come. Pac-Man Party is exclusively for the Wii and will be released later this fall.

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