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Quoridor Pac-Man Game Review

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The 1997 abstract Quoridor has a second edition hitting shelves this year with one major change…Pac-Man! Join Justin for his review to see if the ghosts stand a chance.

Disclosure: Meeple Mountain received a free copy of this product in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. This review is not intended to be an endorsement.

Last fall, my friend and colleague Tom Franklin reviewed the 1997 abstract Quoridor, published by Gigamic. (BGG indicates that Quoridor is based on an older game called Pinko Pallino that has a slightly larger map and different rules.)

I hadn’t played Quoridor before, so I was intrigued by Tom’s review. My experience with abstracts is limited but I have really enjoyed games like SHŌBU and Qawale.

Moving pawns around a small board, with quick play times and easy-to-teach rules, generally works for me, even if I don’t buy abstracts very often. When I went to the Festival International des Jeux recently, my friend Rawan at Gigamic passed me a new game that was a bit of a surprise: Quoridor, but with a major twist.

That twist is front-and-center on the new edition of the box: Pac-Man! Yes, the Pac-Man you remember from your local arcade back in the early 1980s, if you are a person of a certain age. (I am that person.) What, then, does Pac-Man have to do with Quoridor?

Money. Let’s face it—a game called Quoridor might sell well, but a game titled Quoridor Pac-Man is probably going to sell a lot better.

Quoridor’s reskin is still Quoridor, and Tom’s review does a great job of highlighting the original game’s structure and ruleset. This new version can be played just like the base game, with only one change—the pawns are now Pac-Man’s chief antagonists from the video game, the four ghosts known as Blinky (the red ghost), Inky (blue, but technically cyan), Pinky (pink) and Clyde (orange).

Otherwise, base Quoridor is played with two or four players just like the original design. Quoridor Pac-Man comes with a second set of rules for a new Pac-Man variant. In this structure, the Pac-Man pawn is situated at the center of the 81-square grid, with the four ghosts starting at points equidistant from Pac-Man’s start point. Also, four power pills (the pills that give Pac-Man enough strength to chow down on the ghosts in the video game) are scattered in four corners of the grid.

In the variant, one player guides Pac-Man, who has to eat the four power pills before the ghosts (guided by all other players) catch him. Pac-Man has three lives, and he has to eat those four pills before his lives run out. Movement rules are a little different here as well. Pac-Man goes first and can move two spaces in any direction, then the ghosts each get to move one space in any direction, alternating turns until one team reaches their goal.

Surrounding Pac-Man as the ghost player is tough. In fact, it is so tough that each of my games against various members of my family always finished the same way. Pac-Man always can get to one, maybe two, of the power pills without any issues…then getting touched by a ghost, which resets the board just like in the video game, made it easier for Pac-Man to go after the other power pills.

Now, I’m sure a pro-level Quoridor player—or maybe a pro-level Pac-Man player!—could manipulate the ghosts in such a way that they could stop someone from completing their goal. But we didn’t see it, which gives me pause that the variant isn’t as robust as the original game. (I played base Quoridor once with my son to learn those rules before spending the rest of my plays pursuing the Pac-Man variant.)

In this way, Quoridor Pac-Man is in an interesting place. The base game is still great, and I love how easy this one is to set up, teach, play, and “tear down”…all of that can be done in 15 minutes, just like it says on the box. The production here is fantastic, and the storage solution is perfect for a game of this type. The Pac-Man and ghost pawns look incredible and it’s impossible to take a bad picture of the game state.

I don’t think a person who owns Quoridor will run out to buy the Pac-Man version of the same game, so this feels like a game for a Pac-Man junkie looking for a tie-in product, or a gamer looking for a fun abstract game gift. Over a single weekend, I got Quoridor Pac-Man to the table a half-dozen times, and my son (seven years old) already uses the game as a toy where he can build Pac-Man maps with the 20 wall segments, trying to replicate some of the maps from the video game.

The design here is solid, but I’m not sure this will have the legs to get whipped out very often at my home. Quoridor still works, and even if the Pac-Man variant isn’t legendary, it looks legendary, and that might be enough for some gamers.

Gigamic does great work in the abstract design space, so I look forward to seeing what other games come to light in the months ahead!

  • Excellent - Always want to play.

Quoridor Pac-Man details

About the author

Justin Bell

Love my family, love games, love food, love naps. If you're in Chicago, let's meet up and roll some dice!

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