Namco Museum


Review by Joe Santulli



Graphics: 7

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 7

I’m a compilation nut. I’m also a retro nut. Come to think of it, I’m just plain nutty! You never know WHAT I’m gonna say or do next – WHEEEE!


Okay, so most of you are probably familiar with this venerable series, which has now appeared on PlayStation, Dreamcast, N64, and Game Boy Advance. The PS2 release has the following titles: Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Galaga, Pole Position, Pole Position II, Ms. Pac-Man, and Galaxian. Arguably the “staples” in a Namco fans’ eyes. To date, the cream of this crop is the PlayStation series, which spans five discs (six if you include the Japanese release “Encore” disc) and includes many “non-staple” titles and a true museum atmosphere. That series epitomizes what a nostalgic gamer wants: the joys of playing the games again on their latest console as well as some insider stuff, such as the many flyers, cabinet art, hints and other scans that the PlayStation version offers. It’s truly a wonderful set.

How does the PS2 version stack up? Well, compared to releases on the Dreamcast, N64, and GBA, it stacks up quite well. In fact, it’s the SECOND BEST compilation Namco has put together. Unlike these other editions which simply give you a few staples and very little “extra”, the PS2 disc has the 7 staples, three “arranged mode” games, and two hidden games. What it’s missing, besides the inclusion of more games which a DVD-based system should easily be able to manage, are the goodies we’ve only seen on the original set. You have to wonder why. If Namco had already done the work to get scans of everything for the original series, why couldn’t they be included on this disc?

Let me talk briefly about what you DO get, which is all done quite well. The standard games play great, perfectly emulated versions of their coin-op counterparts. If I have to explain the likes of Pac-Man or Pole Position to you then you probably shouldn’t have even read this far. Shouldn’t you be getting back under that rock of yours? As for the “arranged” modes, these are powered-up versions of the classics Pac-Man, Dig Dug, and Galaga. The arrangements are very nice. They don’t deviate too far from the originals but add just enough to make the game seem like a fresh experience. Kind of like adding one of those horns that play “Old Dixie” to your ’67 Barracuda.

A bit more about these “arrangements”. The Pac-Man arrangement was seen on the Game Boy Advance’s Pac-Man Collection, and I’ve played the Galaga arrangement in the arcades, but I’m not sure where the new Dig Dug came from. It’s quite possible that all of these were available in the arcades at one time or another. Namco had graced us with similar arrangements of Xevious and Mappy in the past, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the games on this disc were once seen on coin-ops somewhere in the world.

Before I wrap this up, I should mention that there are two hidden games as well. It’s no secret, they’re Pac-Mania and Pac Attack. Both games are mentioned in the manual, though the method to unlock them is not. Again, they’re both perfect emulations of two very good games.

The compilation on the whole is a great buy at $29.99, even if you already own the Namco Museum series for the PlayStation. The arranged mode and Pac Attack, none of which previously appeared in Namco Museum compilations, are worth the price of admission alone.


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:29 PM