It’s time to head out of the maze and into the third dimension as we check out the best 3D PacMan games of all time!
Iconic yellow dot muncher PacMan has been a video game hero since before many Retro Dodo readers were born (and, me aside, most of the team here too!).
Yet he has long shed his simple 2D maze game origins and leapt into the world of 3D, starring in a variety of games that fit into all kinds of genres.
Which ones are the best though?
Let’s find out, as we check out the best 3D PacMan games of all time!
10. PacMan VR (1996)
Though little known and barely remembered, this arcade VR title felt impossibly futuristic in the mid-90s – and I should know, as I managed to play it myself at Namco Station in London back in the day!
Though it was undeniably technically impressive and immersive when it was released, it wasn’t the most practical design for VR, with somewhat slow movement and low frame rate.
Also, PacMan VR was not only expensive to play, but also costly for arcades to actually keep running – the design and operation of the Virtuality machine necessitated a member of staff to be present in order to assist players with entering and exiting the game at all times.
It was definitely a novelty, but it’d be amazing to see PacMan once again make an appearance in VR, given what is possible with today’s headset technology!
The Wii played host to huge numbers of multiplayer focused mini-game collections – so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see Pac-Man starring in one too!
That’s what we have with PacMan Party, which was released to coincide with PacMan’s 30th Anniversary (handily explaining the party theme!).
Given the name, it’s not a shock that PacMan Party also unashamedly rips off the Mario Party formula for its chaotic multiplayer action!
Players run around a board, taking part in mini-games in order to win cookies – with the aim being to have the most cookies when the game ends.
Up to 50 mini-games are included for up to four players to compete on – and there’s a single player Story Mode included called Mr. Cookie’s Recipe too!
Also included is a Classic Games mode, which allows access to the original versions of PacMan, Galaga and Dig Dug.
It’s a shame the mini-games are a bit too similar to each other and the board game aspect drags the game length out – but this is still a fun little diversion in any case, especially with other players.
You’ll also find Pac-Man Party on our list of the best Nintendo Wii Party Games!
Released back in 2013 – and lasting for three seasons – the PacMan and the Ghostly Adventures cartoon reinvented our little yellow hero as a teenager, with surprisingly deep lore.
Its character designs were pretty divisive however, including the visual look of the ghosts – which came in all shapes and sizes, rather than just sticking to being a single shape with only their colour to distinguish them.
The classic Ghost Gang – Blinky, Inky, Pinky and Clyde – were on PacMan’s side too, bizarrely, which is definitely not the case in other Pac-Man games (check out our all Pac-Man ghosts list for more on those!).
This game based on the series is a straightforward 3D platform game that’s easy to pick up and play – for Pac-fans of any age!
The Kirby-style transformations that Pac can undergo when eating special power berries are entertaining and do add a bit of variety to the proceedings.
This is much needed, as unfortunately, the levels in PacMan and the Ghostly Adventures are very linear and don’t have a great deal of replay value.
That said, it’s the perfect introductory game for younger players who might be put off by the classic, 2D PacMan games – it’s bold, colourful and relatively forgiving to play too.
The second game based on the aforementioned CGI-animated series, PacMan and the Ghostly Adventures 2 offers more of the same in terms of its gameplay and aesthetics.
It is, however, a bit more on the challenging side – which makes it ideal for us seasoned PacMan fans, but less so for the younger players who were so well served by the original game.
It was lambasted critically for offering little new over its predecessor upon release, but fans of the original are likely to enjoy sinking their teeth into this entry in the series.
PacMan and the Ghostly Adventures 2 can often feel more like DLC for the first game than a full blown sequel, but it’s still a pretty competent 3D platform game and one that’s worth tracking down for die-hard fans.
Is it the law of diminishing returns or something more sinister that sees PacMan World 3 rank lower than the previous games in the series?
Released to coincide with PacMan’s 25th Anniversary, this third entry in the Pac-man World series sees PacMan speak for the very first time in any video game (though we’d heard his voice in the short-lived 1982 animated TV show!).
It also features a much more action-oriented style than its 3D platformer predecessors, with numerous changes to the gameplay.
PacMan World 3 also sees PacMan able to take control of the giant Toc-Man – essentially a mech and previously a boss level enemy in the Pac-Man World games – at a few set points in the story.
Just as in PacMan and the Ghostly Adventures – which came much later – PacMan teams up with ghosts to take on an even more dangerous enemy: a diminutive character named Erwin, who’s learned how to suck energy from the Spectral Realm, putting both the Spectral Realm and Pac-Land in danger.
Players can also check out the history of PacMan games using the museum feature – as well as play a port of the original PacMan arcade game.
Following the fun Pac Pix, in which players used the touchscreen to draw their own hilariously wonky, animated PacMan – and which you’ll find on our list of underrated DS games – Pac ‘n Roll was PacMan’s second DS adventure.
It had a lot more depth than Pac-Pix, with a touchscreen mechanic that saw players rolling PacMan around expansive 3D environments as if he was a particularly responsive ball!
Just like in the classic PacMan maze games, Pac-Man must eat Pac-Dots and avoid Ghosts (though Power Pellets can be used to turn the tables on these pesky enemies).
However, numerous power ups are available that give PacMan various abilities – a few examples include eating Knight chocolate, which gives PacMan armour that allows him to walk underwater and break metal crates, or eating Wing chocolate that gives PacMan the ability to temporarily fly over short distances.
Once a certain number of Pac-Dots are eaten, gates within stages will open and allow PacMan to progress.
It’s a fast-paced, fun game that makes great use of the touchscreen. It was remade as part of Namco Museum Remix on the Wii, but the motion controls were nowhere near as well implemented as the DS touchscreen controls – and it’s a much more frustrating game as a result.
Stick to the original and you won’t go far wrong – it more than earns its place on the best 3D PacMan games list!
Is it cheating to put this here, given that it’s a kart racing game?
We don’t think so – it’s a 3D game starring PacMan, after all!
Super Mario Kart has a lot to answer for, doesn’t it? It spawned an entire racing game subgenre – unsurprising, given its quality; just check out its position on our list of the best SNES racing games – and Pac-Man World Rally (known as just PacMan Rally in Europe) was Namco’s first attempt at bringing their yellow hero to kart racing.
It’s a great game too, with some clever gameplay touches that make great use of the characters – such as collectible Pac-dots that fill a meter as they’re collected.
Once full, the player can turn the other racers into ghosts and chomp them out of the race for a few moments!
There’s also plenty of modes to play through, in both single player or four player multiplayer.
It’s a shame that the only sequel it received was PacMan Kart Rally on iOS, Android and Fire TV.
Due to two of those versions being delisted a few years ago, the only way to play it is via Fire TV, which is not the easiest or most capable platform to game on.
Still, the original does still exist of course – and Namco have since been involved in creating several Mario Kart arcade games, all of which feature PacMan as a selectable character!
So PacMan’s kart racing game legacy is secure, it seems!
We here at Retro Dodo sure do like bending the rules, don’t we?
PacMania is essentially classic PacMan, albeit with faux-3D visuals from an isometric perspective (and other isometric games have called themselves 3D – hello, Sonic 3D Blast!).
There are a few extra elements: for example, PacMan can now jump. This is a life-saver but does – like kung-fu fighting – require expert timing.
There’s also two new ghosts with some surprisingly hilarious names: Funky and Spunky. Annoyingly, both of them can jump too – and it’s actually impossible to jump over Spunky.
Other new additions include coloured power pellets that have extra effects on our outnumbered yellow protagonist!
Though Pac-Mania was brought to a huge number of home consoles and computers, the arcade original remains the best way to play. This version has also been brought to computers and consoles via compilations – most recently, in the excellent Pac Man Museum+ on PC, PS4, Switch and Xbox One.
The first PacMan World was well received, but coming late in the lifespan of the PS1 meant that its sequel arrived all shiny and new on then next-gen consoles!
PacMan World 2 also arrived at a time when 3D platformers had become a bit more open and less linear, which shows in the game’s level design.
There’s even an in-game arcade which allows players to get their hands on the original PacMan, Ms PacMan, PacMania and clever puzzle game PacAttack.
PacMan World 2 is a great sequel that narrowly misses out on the top spot of our best 3D PacMan games list – and that’s for a very good reason.
Unfortunately, the camera can be a real hindrance to gameplay at times – so, despite the excellent level design and lovely audiovisual style, it doesn’t quite make it to number one here.
What does though? Let’s check out the game that we consider the absolute best ever of the 3D PacMan games!
Released just before PacMan’s 20th Anniversary, PacMan World even weaves the yellow dot muncher’s birthday into its storyline.
Returning home on his birthday to discover that those pesky ghosts have kidnapped his family, PacMan sets off to rescue them – going through several themed worlds to do so.
Though some level designs do feel more 2.5D than 3D, the invisible walls and often fixed camera do actually help to keep the gameplay focused – the perspective does sometimes cause issues with precision platforming and item collection, but these moments are few and far between.
Mostly, this is just a really fun and well designed – if somewhat predictable – platformer, with PacMan himself having a varied and versatile moveset.
At many points, levels can be tackled in a slightly non-linear fashion too – so if you do get stuck, there’s always the option to go to a different world and try your luck there before heading back to the stage you’re having difficulty with.
Lots of references to classic Namco games and characters from other series – including Dig Dug and Galaxian – are included, plus there’s bonus levels on each stage in the form of 3D versions of classic PacMan mazes.
It’s a wonderful journey of nostalgia and classic gameplay; in fact, it’s so fondly remembered that it’s been remade this year as PacMan World: Re-Pac, which makes only minor changes to the core gameplay to bring it to a modern audience.
It’s also the only 3D PacMan game to have made it onto our best Pac Man games list!
PacMan World is worth checking out and it’s a clear winner – as Retro Dodo’s choice for the top of the best 3D PacMan games list!
Jason – who lives in the UK – has had a lifelong interest in video games, which all started when he discovered Space Invaders in the early 80s. The first game he ever completed was Wonder Boy in Monster Land on the Sega Master System – which remains one of his proudest gaming achievements. Jason is a passionate writer – and has been writing about gaming since the late 90s. He currently runs pop culture blog midlifegamergeek.com, which he updates on a daily basis (and has written more than 700 articles on the blog alone!).
Outside of video games, Jason is a keen tabletop gamer, film buff and comic book fan.