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In Memory
Sean Pettibone

 


 

     

 


 

 

Pac Man Fever isnít a compilation of old 80ís novelty tunes, but a decent and highly enjoyable collection of party mini-games. Five of Namcoís classic characters can be selected and they can traverse some pretty cool worlds to collect tokens and unlock many hidden secrets. Itís a light-hearted game with plenty of enjoyment, but does it have enough depth to last awhile or will it quickly wear out its welcome? Weíve got the Fever so find out.

Taking a page from Mario Party, Namcoís Pac Man Fever is a decent multiplayer title for the Gamecube. It features 5 classic characters and inserting them in a wild board game. Players can select from one of the following Namco mascots: Astoroth from Soul Calibur, both Pac Man and Ms. Pac Man, Tekkenís Tiger and Heihachi , plus the sexy Reiko from the Ridge Racer series. Of these 6 characters, only 4 can play at one time. Three different game worlds with unique boards available and each can be set to different lengths, depending on how long you want the game to last. At the start of each round, you play a mini-game you increase the number of squares you move anywhere from 1 to 5 spaces if you win them. Thereís also a special Decathalon mode which you can unlock by winning all the mini-games, when you select this, 10 games are chosen at random and if you win, you receive a special trophy.

When you land on them, youíll find that each of the squares has its own event, such as winning more tokens, jumping forward, losing a turn and, switching spots with another player. There are also several Store squares on the game board where you can buy extras and power-ups. You can also gamble with a lottery ticket, or can bet on yourself when you buy a token that doubles or triples the number of moves you get after each mini-games. You can also sabotage other players when you hit the revenge square, taking half their tokens, or challenge them to a mini-game. Another square features a completely random spinning wheel where the outcome is up to chance. Other squares present obstacles including ghost attacks plus there are return squares to watch out for. The first player to the end wins the game, but there are several raffle squares, which can give you additional tokens. Each of the many mini-games can be selected to play individually and you can unlock more using the tokens you win in the game.

Pac Man Feverís main thrust is obviously the mini-games, and there are more than 30 of them. These are all excellent, and quite addictive. Each has a good sense of control and taken as a whole, thereís an excellent balance between action and puzzle gaming. Considering that the developer Mass Media was most famous for translating classic games, it should come as no surprise that many of the games here echo those titles. For example, the token game where a monkey drops coins and you have to catch them is highly reminiscent of Kaboom. Most of the mini-games are all out battles between all four players, though some are solo, and the challenge mode has you going one-on-one. Some of the mini-games are quite fun and unique but there are more traditional mini-games such as whack-a-ghost, a cool vending machine game, and a decent kart-racing scenario that would be a lot of fun on its own. Target and shooting games are also included. Several sports themed events are included, with hockey, golf, soccer, ice hockey and bowling amongst the 31 included games. Thereís a good interplay between the games, and the consistent controls makes the game a joy to play. Despite this, there is a tendency of some of them to get a little repetitive after awhile, though taken in the appropriate small doses, this isnít that apparent.

All of this is pleasantly packaged inside a competent graphics engine, though itís average appearance wonít knock your socks off. The worlds are bright and colorful and feature some really funny slapstick sequences. Character animation is decent, and the mini-games look very sharp. The in-game interface is also pretty good, making navigation pretty simple throughout. Pac Man Fever also lives up to its heritage in another good way. The sound effects are typically wacky, and in the usual Namco style, the soundtrack is replete with techno-ish funky remixes of the classic Pac Man theme making for a more appealing game.

While Pac Man Fever is a fun and enjoyable party game, there are some problems which bring things down a notch. The biggest problem with the game is that thereís a limited selection of playable characters, which hurts the replay value. Another problem is that some of the presentation and menus are a little difficult to understand. It moves along quickly and the lack of pauses between events adds to the flow of the games. Some of the events are quite challenging, while others are much simpler to master and serve to keep your ego in check. Obviously, playing a party games with friends is the preferred mode, and this is where it shines. Pac Man Fever will definitely please fans of the party-game genre with its variety and challenge, but the game is incredibly intuitive and simple to get into. That means it should appeal to a general audience because its controls donít need a lot of explanation or practice. In the end, this is an excellent game for what it is, and the dirt-cheap price tag is a bargain considering how much replay value the game offers. So in the end, Pac Man Fever works on many levels, and should especially appeal to those who love the simple play mechanics and addicting gameplay of classic games.





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