You know, someone once had a smart idea. That idea was based on the fact that people like to throw parties and at these parties people often pull out board games to help facilitate the merriment. So someone decided – wow we could make these board games as video games and fill them full of little mini arcade-type games and people will buy them because they need board games at their parties. Actually, despite my sarcasm, that was a pretty good idea. But then Namco came out with a bad idea based on this good idea – and that bad idea is Pac Man Fever.
I don’t know about you but usually board games have enough plot on their own – be the first to cross the finish line while screwing over you fellow players as much as possible. But Namco felt that instead of just playing the game for the fun of it, we needed another reason to play. In the intro we see the meager six characters you get to choose from – Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Reiko from Ridge Racer, Astaroth from Soul Calibur and Tiger and Heihachi from Tekken – getting ready for a big tournament. But then, oh no! the Ghosts steal the trophy and take it into the VIP area. So that’s the brilliant plot: play the game, win redemption tickets, and with the redemption tickets buy all the mini-games. When you own all the mini-games you can buy your own VIP pass and go put those ghosts in jail. Seriously. That is the 15 second cut scene you’re rewarded with when you buy all the mini-games. Whoop-de-do.
Well, getting beyond the horrible plot idea, the game play is deserving of some description. There are two options to playing the game. The first is Fever, the board game, the second is tournament of the min-games. In Fever, you have the option of playing through three different areas – Tropical, Medieval or Space – in your choice of either a long, normal or short version of the game. In order to determine the distance you will move, each turn you get to play a mini-game. Win the mini-game and you move the farthest. Then you play the square you land on, which can give or take tokens, move you backwards or forwards, allow you to challenge another player to yet another mini game (for tokens), allow you to buy items from the store like moving opponents backwards on the board, or can be a raffle for redemption tickets. Not terribly original.
In all, there are 31 mini-games. Some of these, like Vend-a-Fruit (turn on all the buttons on a fruit vending machine) or Whack-a-Ghost (whack-a-mole, duh) show up in all the areas, while several other games are unique to the area you’ve chosen to play in. For example, in Tropical you can play games like Tropical Tag (run away from the person who’s it) and Jungle Jog (run and jump over hurdles). While in Medieval you can play games like Feudal Foosball (foosball with a team mate) and Home Run Castle (batting practice). And in Space you can play games like Alien Abduction (get aliens in you tractor beam and suck ’em up) or Meteors (collect meteors while you bounce around moon style). Some of the mini-games are actually kinda fun; others not so much.
The worst part about the gameplay is the computer’s AI. You can’t play the game unless there are four characters on the board, which means if you wanna go head to head with one friend you have to have the computer AI tag along. And I swear the game picks a favorite to win and then does everything it can to let that character win. I saw two characters the AI was playing as tank a mini-game so that the third AI character could win. I also saw another character tank it so that it could get the spring square that was one square away. And then the computer sprung the character 9 squares! And the rules say you can move 3-8 squares – I ask you where did it get nine from?!?
Graphics and Sound
The graphics and music are pretty ho hum.. The graphics are fine, though there’s nothing spectacular about some super-deformed characters running around a board. In fact, often you don’t even play as your character in the mini-games, just a target. The music is ok, but I sincerely hope no one gets too wrapped up in this game as the music will get stuck in your head if you play it for a long time and, well, it’s not the kind of music you want stuck in your head.
Ok so you can probably tell how I feel about this game. Frankly I hated it and was glad to get that piece of trash out of my home. However I am also well aware that I hate board games. So keeping my own personal feelings about the genre under tight reigns, I still gotta say that this game isn’t good. With only six characters to choose from and no extra unlockables to be found, an AI that has it out for you, and no two player mode this game should have a warning label “warning will make you pull out your own hair and the hair of all those around you.”