What do you get when you mix Pac-Man and a puzzle game like Bejeweled? You get Pac-Match Party. Namco’s puzzle version of Pac-Man is somewhat like how Taito used the little dinosaurs from Bubble Bobble into Puzzle Bobble. I came away from Pac-Match impressed and didn’t at all think the game was a gimmick to cash in on Pac-Man’s two decades of fame.
The premise of the puzzle is pretty simple. You are given a grid of different icons all jumbled together. You can swap two items’ places either vertically or horizontally. Any items that have three or more items in a row will disappear from the grid and new icons will fall down from above. Diagonals do not count. The puzzle part is fairly lenient. If you find yourself staring blankly at the game board, Pac-Match Party will actually make some suggestions to help you keep the game going. You do this until you either advance a level or in some instances you can work yourself into a dead end, in which case you’ll have to shake your iPhone or iPod Touch to reset the game board.
Namco has thrown in power ups into the game to make it interesting. There are little gift box icons strewn across the game board. If you line those items up, you get a power up. Power ups range from reorganizing all the icons on your board to zapping away at a certain row. There is also a Pac-Man power up where you can drag a Pac-Man on to a ghost and then ask Pac-Man to eat all the ghosts in a particular row. Perhaps the most interesting thing is how Pac-Man himself is incorporated in the game. There is a border of dots and power pellets surrounding the game. On this border, there is a ghost chasing a Pac-Man. Every time you clear items off the puzzle part of the game, you advance Pac-Man’s position and prevent him from being eaten by the ghost. This acts like a timer and an effective one at that. Any time the ghost catches up to Pac-Man and you lose a life. Lose too many and it's game over.
There isn’t much more to the game than this. Unlike Bomberman, there aren’t a variety of modes to mix up the gameplay. This is a shame since the game is fairly short. The graphics are true to the Pac-Man world and I couldn’t help but think this is one of those games you play when you queue to buy tickets or something of that nature. It’ll grab your attention for 5 or 10 minutes. But shortly after that, it will start to show its limitations. Pac-Match Party is a good game to keep to ward away dull moments if you don’t already have a puzzle game on your iPhone.