As Pac-Man Party's story mode tells us, "Stories are like cookies. Some are sweet, or hard to swallow, and everyone has a favourite." If we extend this analogy to games, then Pac-Man Party 3D would be a stale pack of Jammie Dodgers with a best before date that expired in the late 1990s.
As you'd expect by the name, Pac-Man Party 3D is Namco Bandai's attempt at stuffing its yellow pill-muncher into a mini-game collection. Well, we say pill-muncher, but Pac-Man Party 3D is adamant that those yellow things Pac-Man eats are cookies, not pills. Okay Namco, we'll play along...
To its credit, Pac-Man Party 3D does at least try to inject some sort of originality into Mario Party's board game format. Land on a square and you'll own it (sort of like Monopoly) and any time an opponent lands on one of your squares it'll trigger a mini-game where the winner gains possession of it.
At times, you'll also trigger a boss battle where the competitors pool their resources in order to take out a larger enemy.
The Pants Party
Ultimately, however, the board game element in a party game will always simply be a shell for the mini-games themselves and that's sadly where Pac-Man Party falls flat.
Each game is introduced with a screen of badly written and confusing text-only instructions with no images or animations to illustrate what to expect.
It's only when you're chucked into the mini-game itself that you get to start piecing together what it is you have to do, by which point it's often already too late. Even once you get the hang of a specific mini-game, the vast majority of them are the same sort of generic, samey stuff you've seen countless times ever since the Nintendo 64 days and will present no fresh challenge to anyone vaguely familiar with Nintendo games.
In fact, Pac-Man Party as a whole feels like an N64 game trapped in a 3DS game's body. There are only a few boards, each with a similar layout, the story mode is packed with rubbish dialogue and the characters' facial expressions never change, so even when Pac-Man loses a game his face stays locked in a ridiculous open-mouthed smile, the mug.
Finally, as it's a Namco game, the package is rounded off with the usual bunch of retro arcade titles (Pac-Man, Galaga and Dig Dug) jammed in there for the umpteenth time to add extra content. All it does this time, however, is remind players that the original 1980 Pac-Man - pills and all - is still far more enjoyable than a party game released 32 years later.
Once you realise this, the party quickly crashes to a halt. We'd strongly suggest getting Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions instead of this disappointing and unnecessary title.