Pac-Man Party 3D

Game review by
Mark Raby, Common Sense Media
Pac-Man Party 3D Game Poster Image
Classic arcade game hero now in board game.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Rather than depicting Pac-Man and the ghosts as arch rivals, in this game they are treated as equals, all competing in a good-natured competition where everyone plays by the rules.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though Pac-Man's historically basic and underdeveloped persona hardly present him as a strong role model, his storied presence in video games exudes a sense of positivity and a persistent image as a 'good guy.' In addition, in this game the ghosts are seen not as enemies but as friendly competitors. All characters promote a fair, good-natured competitive spirit.

Ease of Play

The mini-games require basic gaming skills such as button-mashing and tapping the screen in-time to various prompts. The challenge comes in doing all these actions faster and more accurately than opponents. In addition, the board game element that ties the mini-games together is a simplified version of Monopoly that requires a little strategy and is designed to be widely accessible.

Violence & Scariness

During some of the mini-games, players must perform actions such as throwing harpoons at an octopus or stomping on spiders, but these are presented in a cartoon aesthetic and come across more like arcade games than any sort of actual violence.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Pac-Man 3D Party is a collection of mini-games in which players have to tap the screen, press buttons, and follow on-screen commands more quickly and with more accuracy than their opponents. The main gameplay mode is presented as a board game where players build castles on unoccupied spaces and collect points whenever another player lands on their castle -- sort of like a simplified version of Monopoly. Mini-games occur in between turns and give winning players an advantage within the board game. Some of these mini-games include violent imagery like harpooning an octopus or smashing a spider, but the majority of them have no objectionable content. It is possible for players with multiple 3DS systems to play in multiplayer mode; only one game cartridge is required.

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What's it about?

In PAC-MAN PARTY 3D, there is a secondary story about an egregious theft of cookies, and as players complete the board game process they gradually retrieve these cookies. This is a very meager part of the game, which is more about collecting castles and competing in a variety of mini-games. The central component of the game involves a Monopoly-like strategy of building up castles around a game board and collecting money/points from anyone who stops by. There are more than 50 mini-games in total, and there is a mode that allows players to just play through these mini-games in rapid-fire fashion. This game also includes complete playable versions of the classic arcade games Pac-Man, Galaga, and Dig Dug.

Is it any good?

Pac-Man Party 3D takes a page out of the Mario Party book and ties together a board game mechanic with interspersed mini-games that give significant advantages to players who can outperform others in quick tests of reflexes and spatial recognition. The 30-year-old yellow icon does not capture the same magic as Mario Party, largely because the board game component is uninspired. The game is designed to be accessible to all players, but as a result it comes across as dry and boring. That being said, the mini-games are great and take advantage of all the 3DS's unique features including the microphone, accelerometer, and 3D visuals. The inclusion of classic arcade games (Pac-Man, Galaga, Dig Dug) is also a very nice feature. There is probably enough fun to be had from this game to make it worth a purchase, but players may need to muddle through some of the game's less inspired gameplay along the way.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the storied history of Pac-Man. Why do you think a character as simple as a yellow circle has become such a cultural icon?

  • What are some other long-running video game mascots and which one would you say is the strongest role model? Mario? Sonic? Ratchet & Clank?

  • Has there been a time when you had to compete against someone you didn't like? Did that change the way you approached the competition?

Game details

  • Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
  • Price: $39.99
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: Namco Bandai
  • Release date: November 8, 2011
  • Genre: Party
  • ESRB rating: E for Cartoon Violence
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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