Pac-Man Party: A cross-generational celebration

Get a double shot of nostalgia with Wii’s Pac-Man Party. One CD ($19.99) hosts ’80s arcade games and Millennial play that looks and feels a lot like Candy Land and Monopoly board games.

As an accomplished Pac-Man player, remembering my game pattern from high school days, I was drawn to this game, which was released in 2010 to celebrate the 30th year anniversary of Pac-Man and is exclusive to the Wii. The game targets the 7-12 year-old gamer but also appeals to those of us who grew up in an arcade.Not only do dot-eating Pac-Men and the ghosts who chase them — Inky, Blinky, Pinky and Clyde — reside on the game, but so does Galaga, the fixed shooter game, and Dig Dug.

Remember Dig Dug? You’re the little man that digs and digs until you come to an underground (obviously) monster and you shoot him until he blows up and explodes. If you dig into him, you explode. Galaga is fun, too! As a spaceship stationed at the bottom of the screen, you shoot formation-flying aliens.

Excited to be reunited with Pac-Man, I took the Wii remote (no joystick) from the kids. Wii Pac-Man play is more difficult for those of us raised on the stick. You have to hold the remote parallel to the screen and use your thumb to press the arrow buttons to move Pac-Man. It’s not as smooth as maneuvering a joystick. My timing was off and my thumb tired quickly. But the lights, sounds, music, patterns, etc. of Pac-Man, Galaga and Dig Dug are all the same as the old arcade games. Kids of this generation seem perfectly coordinated to manage ’80s arcade games sans stick.

What’s more, this game has the “party” part for the younger generation. It’s silly and cute, crazy and easy. There are lots of characters, confetti, balloons and choices. Players choose story or party mode and a world to play in. For example’s sake, if you choose story mode, a short tale establishes the game mission of finding the secret recipe for the greatest cookie in the world.

Players then become Pac-Man playing against each other or a ghost. They obtain a number either by spinning a wheel, throwing a dart, dropping a ball down a pinball–like pegboard or pulling the lever on what looks like a slot machine and pressing A to halt the action that chooses a number. They then move the appropriate number of spaces, just like play on a board game. The screen even flashes a diagram that looks like Candy Land. Each landing space requires some action — draw a card, gain cookies, build a castle, etc. The more cookies you get, the more castles you build and the closer you get to the secret recipe and winning the game. Ghosts pursue you at every turn.

Another “choice” in this game is more similar to Monopoly. Players move spaces and buy and rent properties.

There is a lot of back and forth turning of the Wii remote. Players really have to be savvy with the controllers. However, for most of the play, only button A and the arrow keys are used. There was reference to Tarot cards and fortune telling in this game but no expletives or violence.

Perhaps my favorite part of Pac-Man Party is the mini games. There are more than 50 of them. It will take your child days and days to go through them all, providing lots of play for the money.

I highly recommend putting Pac-Man Party in and selecting the mini game Spaghetti Rollup. Players (get four children for maximum amusement) must mimic the movement required to roll spaghetti noodles with a fork using the Wii remote. It’s timed and whoever rolls the most spaghetti (moves fastest) wins. My little people swirled their remotes so fast they nearly became airborne and were winded when they finished. I laughed until I cried. Now that’s video gaming entertainment at its best.

Join the Pac-Man Party rated “E” for everyone!

Angry Birds Update: In a week I’ve advanced to level six. Level two was the hardest, in my opinion, but I finally overcame it by slinging low birds versus high. Enjoying the higher levels when bluebirds multiply, yellow birds accelerate, white birds drop bombs and black birds blow up to slay those rascally, eye-blinking pigs. Thinking Angry Birds is perfect entertainment for carpool lines.