Pac-Man Fever Review

Developer: Mass Media Publisher: Namco
Release Date: September 3, 2002 Available On: GCN and PS2

The original Mario Party must have been quite a game. I wouldn’t know, since I never had an N64. However, it is an unwritten rule in the video game industry; if a game is good, clone it mercilessly and make as much money as possible before people realize the quality has fallen off dramatically. It’s been seen in many genres; compare OoT to WW, or SM64 to SMS. The same thing has happened to Mario Party. Gamecube has seen a direct sequel to it, but there are also indirect clone games such as Nickelodeon Party Blast, Shrek Super Party, and the game we are looking at now, Pac-man Fever.

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Now what is the first thing you think of when the name Pac-man comes up? Probably you think of eating Pac-dots and power pellets on a birds-eye view playing field. Sadly, Pac-man Fever has nothing to do with that. I originally got Pac-man Fever because I liked Pac-man World 2 and assumed this game was of similar quality to it. I have Mario Party 4 at the moment, but I didn’t have it at the time, so I was somewhat impressed by the style of this game initially, having never seen anything like it before. However, after I got Mario Party 4, I figured out that this game was not worth what I had paid for it and that even the whole party game genre wasn’t really fun to play alone, which is how I do most of my playing. Anyway, I’ve rambled long enough. Let’s get into the gory details.

The graphics in this game are far from impressive. To give you an idea of how bad they are, let’s just say that the N64 probably could have handled them. Pac-man and Ms. Pac-man’s figures look fine, but the other four characters are drastically out of proportion and look completely stupid. The three playing boards are nice to look at for a while, but they get old real fast. The menus and the mini-games are passable so far as graphics are concerned, but they are far from spectacular. If you’re looking for a game to impress upon people what Gamecube is capable of in the graphics department, this is not the game to choose by any means.

The sound in this game is bad (that’s an understatement by the way). It is literally not worth listening to. The songs that play on the three game boards (yes, each game board has its own unique song) are nice and somewhat catchy, but the poor sound effects more than make up for that.

The game play is not particularly exciting either. Each player (up to four, no surprise there) picks a character, and if less than four humans are playing the game, the computer will join in to take the remaining spots. Each turn the four players take turns moving a certain number of spaces depending on how they did in the mini-game at the beginning of the round. The first person to reach the end of the board wins, it’s that simple. And the end of the board is rigged so that only one person can get to the end; in other words, there are no ties.

The objective of the game is to play through the boards enough times to earn enough redemption tickets to buy all 30 of the mini-games to play in the mini-game mode so you can chase the ghosts and retrieve a trophy. Needless to say, the story is not very good, but it’s a party game, and Mario Party 4 doesn’t have much of a story either.

There are three boards. Each board has its own theme. Now this may sound fine but there is a slight problem with it. In Mario Party 4, all fifty mini-games are available on every game board, but in Pac-man Fever, there are four sets of mini-games: one set exclusive to each board, and a set that can be played on any board. The game played at the beginning of each turn is chosen randomly, but since there are only fifteen options or so on any given board, you can expect to be playing the same games multiple times, this gets old fast. There is also the annoyance that you have to watch the computer do whatever it gets to do on its turns. If the computer lands on a coin mini-game when it moves, you get to sit and watch the computer play that game. If it lands on a store, you get to watch it buy something. Usually the computer will buy one of two things: it will move itself forward, or it will move someone else (usually a human player) backward. Beyond these things, the gameplay is semi-decent though.

For me to give anything at all for a creativity score is me being extra merciful. They basically took the Mario Party concept, removed every aspect of Mario Party that makes it even semi-fun, and the result was this game.

So far as replay value is concerned, if you like party games and you have human opponents to play this game with (and they’re willing to play it with you), it might last a while for you. Alone, it’s not even worth playing the first time. Truth be told, even with friends it probably isn’t either, but that’s a decision you have to make for yourself.

Graphics: 3
Sound: 3
Gameplay: 4
Creativity: 1
Replay Value/Game Length: 2
Final: 2.5
Written by Martin Review Guide

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