Thursday, January 6, 2011
History of Namco Museum Collections and Namco Museum 50th Anniversary Review
Namco Museum is a long-time favorite of mine, and it's a pleasure to review it finally. The most impressive aspect of the game is arguably the menu, which simulates an arcade and plays a few classic '80s pop hits. The loading times are bad, but not a major deterrent. Arcade games always take a long time to load. Most of the games are fun, a few are not, but all are worth playing and most offer at least a nice distraction. The packaging does not make the eyes bleed. Everything covered.
Except the history of the Namco collections. It all began in 1995 with Namco Museum Vol 1. for the Playstation. Over the next 3 years Namco releases another five volumes. In 1999, yhey also released a modified Vol 1. for the N64 and Dreamcast with Ms. Pac-Man (more of a "greatest hits"). Between 2000-2002, Namco Museum was released for the GBA, PS2, GCN, and XBOX, followed, in 2005, by the updated Namco Museum 50th Anniversary. The DS and PSP saw releases of collections, Namco Museum DS and Namco Museum Battle Collection respectively. The XBOX 360 received the best collection by far: Namco Museum Virtual Arcade which includes the kickass Pac-Man Championship Edition as well as a cache of treasures. In January 2009 they released Namco Museum Essentials for the PlayStation Network, and allowed users to get arcade cabinets for the Playstation HOME. The Wii has already seen two collections: Namco Museum Remix (2007) and Megamix (2010), giving gamers much of the same, and a few (apparently shoddy) "updates" to the classics. I'll probably end up buying Megamix because I'd hate to have to track it down in the future. The entire mess is so complicated that wikipedia has a gigantic chart graphing what games appear in which collections.
Now that you know the history, learn the games! (You probably already know them). I'll do a mini-review for each game and post random images I've scoured from Google Images!
Pac-Man: Great game, but only one board. Painfully slow.
Ms. Pac-Man: Better game, more interesting boards, but still painfully slow on this collection. Good luck getting past the Junior Board.
Galaga: Classic, yet you can only play the slow shoot version. Disapointing.
Galaxian: Not as good as Galaga.
Dig Dug: Awesome music, great gameplay, a timeless classic, perfectly ported.
Rally-X; Awkward and forgettable.
Pole Position: Good fun, but terrible as a racing game. Better racing games exist on the 2600, and it doesn't compare to Outrun.
Pole Position II: Still not as good as Outrun.
Xevious: See the full-length review. Xevious defines a genre.
Dragon Spirit: Somehow misses the Xevious formula, yet may hold some depth and entertainment.
Boscovian: More annoying than anything.
Rolling Thunder: Good for a few hours, but once I doubt anyone really enjoys this game. Okay, I'm sure some people like it, but I'd rather play Ghost 'n' Goblins if I'm going to play an incredibly awkward and challenging arcade platformer.
Mappy: Should not have been created.
Sky Kid: Although the real-world theme is dull, the gameplay is solid and the simultaneous combat is a real party-saver.
Pac-Mania: One of the best Pac-Man games, and definitely a reason to buy this collection.
Galaga '88: An incredible update to Galaga, also adds to the value of the collection.
Overall you get a lot of great games, some bad ports, some okay ports, and some clunkers. Hey, every arcade needs some bad machines to make you appriciate the good ones. Besides, playing a few minutes of Boscovian can take the edge off of a 12-hour Xevious binge or a weekend of Pac-Mania.
If you still haven't had enough Namco euphoria, check out the overlong 3-part Youtube review of Namco Museum Anniversary Collection. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.