Snapper, a Pac-Man clone on the Acorn Electron. Telling you this not only points out my ever increasing age but lest you know that even in the early 80’s Pac-Man was a big deal and is one of the classic video games. Whacky Wit and Whacky Roll are board games that allow you to replicate this classic arcade nonsense in boardgame form.
Whacky Wit and Whacky Roll are the same game, but with different levels of bling. Whacky Wit, which is currently on Indiegogo, is a large scale fancier version of the game including a thick board, pegs and large plastic characters. Whacky Roll is a cut down version that uses simpler components and a roll of paper boards (hence the name). The version we played was Whacky Roll but the rules are the same for both versions.
In Whacky Wit, one player takes the role of Whacky (Pac-Man to you) and the other control of the ghosts. The aim is simple, Whacky must pass over every square of the board before losing three lives, and the ghosts must chase whacky down and land on him to cause a life to be lost. Whacky rolls a yellow twelve side dice to determine how many square he can move through and is able to change direction as he wishes. The ghosts roll two dice, a coloured ice to select the ghost that can be moved and a numbered to die to show how many squares said ghost can move. Although given a 12 sided dice, the numbers are not evenly distributed so your ghosts aren’t going to be moving as fast as Whacky.
It’s not a Pac-Man game with Power Pills and if Whacky lands on a power pill square at any point he not only gets to have three turns in a row, but he can turn the tables by landing on ghosts and sending them back to their starting area.
Whacky Roll is played over a paper board and a permanent marker is supplied to cross off the pills as Whacky passes over them. Yes, you read that correct, a permanent marker, which means each play mat can only be played once. However, each play mat is double sided and there are plenty of play-mats included in the game.
Whacky Roll is exactly what you’d expect from a board game version of Pac-Man. If you’re looking to recreate some nostalgic video game memories in a board game form then you’re not going to get a better implementation. The problem though is that Pac-Man isn’t exactly a complicated video game so translates into a straight forward board game. The mechanics of the game will be too simple for seasoned modern board game players and lacks the depth to take the game beyond a 10 minute novelty.
However, as a game for kids Whacky Roll really hits the mark, while true that the roll and move aspect makes the game very random there are lots of tactical possibilities in both trying to block Whacky into a corner with the ghosts and taking advantage of power pills and knowing when to utilise a high dice roll to cheese it out of there.