Pac-Man started in 1980 and has become an icon of the 1980s. It’s one of the most popular video games in history, as it has an innovative design that we are now making card games off of it. Pac-Man: The Card Game takes the framework and uses the theme and idea in card game form. You are still collecting pellets and fruit to gain points, and still trying to avoid ghosts. The framework for Pac-Man just works very well with the mechanics used in this card game. Pac-Man The Card Game was first released in 2020 by Steamforged Games. Steamforged Games is known for titles like Dark Souls: The Board Game, Guild Ball, Bardsung, and Resident Evil 2: The Board Game. Also I just reviewed their worker placement game Ni No Kuni II, which is one of their more family games, and would encourage you to check out that review and that game.
What’s in the Box?
- 54 Level 1 Cards
- 54 Level 2 Cards
- 1 Rulebook
How’s it Play?
If you are playing with 2-4 players you will use either level 1 cards or when you know the game more, level 2 cards.
If you are playing with 5-8 players, you will use both level 1 and level 2 cards combined for form a deck for play.
The deck is shuffled and placed out forming a deck. On a player’s turn they will draw 1 card at a time up to 3 total cards. When drawing a card they will look at it, and depending on the type of card you will either keep it in your hand without anyone else seeing it, or you will place it out to perform its special action.
Pellet cards – When drawn, you add them to your hand and hopefully score them for points.
Fruit cards – When drawn, you add these to your hand and hopefully score them for points.
Ghost cards – When drawn, you add these to your hand unless it’s the third ghost in your hand of cards. When it is the third ghost card, you are knocked out of the game, and will place your hand of cards face up for all to see and you no longer play in the game.
Power Up cards – When drawn, play this card face up in front of you and perform its action.
Possible power up cards will let you give another player one of your ghost cards, let you choose two players including yourself to switch hands of cards, let you choose a player and a number of cards they have to draw on their next turn, skip a players turn, cause every active player to choose a card and pass it to the left, or have all players draw one extra card.
Players will continue taking turns drawing 1-3 cards from the deck on each turn. A player can at any time choose to shut down before gaining 3 ghosts to stop drawing cards on their turn. They place their cards face down and wait for all players to either get knocked out or shut down themselves. When shut down, you are no longer affected by power up cards.
If all but one player gets knocked out, that last player wins regardless of how many points everyone has. If multiple players choose to shut down, then after there are no more active players, those who shut down will count the points on their cards, and the player with the most points wins.
When I received Pac-Man The Card Game I was excited to share this game with my kids. But first, they never heard of Pac-Man and thus this led us on a path of downloading Pac-Man on my phone and playing the app version of the game. Of course, the app version is a little different from the classic arcade game version. But, they got to feel the rush of being chased by ghosts, and then eating power cookies to then chase those same ghosts down and eat them.
Once they got a good feeling of what Pac-Man is via video game, I busted out Pac-Man the Card Game. Our family plays way more board and card games than video games, so everyone was ready and excited to see how this compared to the video game. And after just a couple rounds, the kids absolutely loved it.
You need to know that this card game shares the same complexity as the video game. This is to be expected as it would be weird to play a Pac-Man game of higher complexity.
Pac-Man provides a push your luck mechanic that both works incredibly with its gameplay alone, but also when combined with the theme, it just makes a game that gives you close to the same vibes as the video game. I think the card game misses out on the thrill of eating the ghosts, and also running away from the ghosts, not knowing if the ghost is going to go straight or turn. But you can only do so much with cards.
Pac-Man can have very different outcomes depending on cards you draw. Sometimes players have gotten up to 30 points, while other times the winner only has 4. Sometimes the winner wins due to everyone else getting knocked out, while other times it goes down to comparing points from players who choose to shut down. The game is random due to the shuffled deck of cards.
Ultimately, my kids have really enjoyed playing Pac-Man The Card Game. It’s a game they can break out and play with other kids and know how to play it. It’s a game that doesn’t take long to play, can be played with 2-8 players, and so its really easy to get it to the table. It’s a game I definitely don’t mind playing with my kids, or use it for a quick filler game when playing with friends. Although there is a lot to like about the game, you will only need to play it 3-5 times which takes about 5 minutes each time before turning to something else.
Images via Steamforged Games. Thank to Steamforged for providing a copy for review.
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