A lazy stroll down memory lane.
Memories. We look back at certain things in our past with a sense of nostalgia, and long for a way to take a trip back in time. This is something that happens a lot when it comes to videogames, and publishers are happy to tap into this with remasters and classic game collections. Namco are the latest to get on board, with the Namco Museum for the Nintendo Switch. Now, this isn’t the first time that a Namco Museum has been released, in fact it was almost 20 years ago that the first game with this name came out on the original PlayStation, but classic games are timeless, and Namco think that they could be onto a winner by releasing this game for Nintendo’s current console darling.
Namco Museum includes 10 classic arcade games; Pac-Man, Galaga, Galaga ‘88, Dig Dug, Druaga, Skykid, Rolling Thunder, Rolling Thunder 2, Spatterhouse and Tank Force. Here in lies my first problem, two of these games are sequels, and to be fair, not all of them are what I would call classic. And why only 10 games? Namco has a rich arcade history, why is Pole Position, Pac Mania, Mr. Driller or Galaxian missing? There seems to be some strange omissions when it comes to this collection. At least they included Pac-Man Vs, a multiplayer version of the game that allows 4-player when playing with other Switch consoles, or 3-player when on a single console.
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Multiplayer: Pacman Vs only
Price I’d pay: $14.99
Although there are only 10 games, each game is treated with care, and the ports, to my knowledge, are faithful to their originals. But this brings along with it another problem I had, the size of the play area. As these were all originally arcade games, the actual play area of the games takes up only a third of the screen, with the rest covered in a game specific background. The display options look like they may help, with things like vertical/horizontal positioning, aspect ratios and fixed dot size. But all of these options apply to the game screen and are not in relation to the Switch screen, meaning that they are a useless addition. The game does allow you to rotate the screen 90 degrees and then potentially play with a larger play area, but oddly the game doesn’t amend the controls to account for this. I also felt uncomfortable playing the Switch on its side, as I was worried I would lose my grip on it.
It is also worth bearing in mind that all of these games were made with the intention of stealing Quarters from the pockets of young children. Games like Pac-Man and Galaga don’t feel unfair even now, as they were games of skill and practice. But Splatterhouse, Rolling Thunder and Tank Force feel unfairly difficult and rage inducing. At least you can insert an unlimited amount of coins into each game, but that doesn’t make it less frustrating.
Presentation wise, Namco Museum ticks all the boxes. As I mentioned before, each game is well ported and has two modes, original and challenge. The look, feel and sounds of the menus feel era appropriate and are well laid out. This is with the exception of the screen used to switch between games. This screen looks like there are games missing from the collection, and makes me think that they could have plans to add games via DLC.
I’m not totally sure as to who the target audience is for this collection. Older gamers who would have enjoyed these games in an arcade have had several other ways in which to play a lot of these games through the years. And that isn’t including games such as Pac-Man Championship Edition, which brings the classic gameplay up to date with modern gaming mechanics. Younger gamers, who may have never played any of these games, probably won’t enjoy most of them due to their money stealing design. I certainly would encourage youngsters to try out Pac-Man, Galaga and Dig Dug, as they are genuine classics, but $30 for two or three games that I would play long-term just doesn’t seem like good value. This game is probably best being held off on until a price drop.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.