Bandai Namco has been no stranger to celebrating its classic game lineage. Anyone who owned a PlayStation probably remembers the massive Namco Museum collection that came out, featuring favorites like Dig-Dug and Pac-Man and obscure titles like Assault and Ordyne, spread across five different discs. And the series has continued on with a number of compilation releases over the years, including Namco Museum: Virtual Arcade for the Xbox 360 – though the tie-in with the Xbox Live Arcade games wasn’t entirely useful.
But that’s neither here nor there. The latest entry in the series makes its way to the Nintendo Switch, bringing with it ten classics from Bandai Namco’s arcade history, along with a favorite from the GameCube era that a lot of fans will want to check out. While it’s true there could have been a lot more games in this compilation – where the heck is Assault when I need it?! – what’s here provides a great deal of value, especially to Switch owners that have been looking for some retro value from their hardware.
The collection features a number of 80’s favorites, including Galaga, Rolling Thunder, Pac-Man and Dig-Dug, but it also has some obscure titles, like Tank Force (which I didn’t even play in arcades) and the weird adventure game The Tower of Druaga. But the publisher also included a couple of stellar titles that have never been in the Namco Museum collection – the gory favorite Splatterhouse (which was a big hit on the Turbo-Grafx 16) and the hardly-seen sequel Rolling Thunder 2, which found its claim to fame with a Sega Genesis release.
Now, it’s true, there could’ve been more games. What I wouldn’t give to have at least 20 titles to choose from, like we’ve seen in prior Namco Museum games. Also, am I going to play The Tower of Druaga? Like, at all? Probably not. That said, what’s here still provides a great deal of value for the $30 price.
This Arcade's Open All Night
First off, the games are emulated very well. Mixing together the original arcade code with creative background art (which you can swap around) is pretty cool. What’s more, if you’re taking the game on the go, you can actually turn your Switch screen around vertically and play as originally intended with the narrow arcade screen view, which is pretty wonderful. (Not sure if you can do that with a regular TV, because there’s no way I’m turning an HDTV on its side and risking warranty. Maybe if I leaned sideways…)
But the arcade coding, as I mentioned, is really something. Even though Splatterhouse is without its red carnage, it’s still great, goopy fun. And I got a kick out of Rolling Thunder 1 and 2 as well, shooting enemy agents while stylishly avoiding attacks.
And what’s more, there’s a nice little bonus thrown into the mix – Pac-Man Vs. This multiplayer game was first made popular in the GameCube era, and although its multiplayer takes a little bit to set up (what with the needed JoyCon controllers and all), it’s a great deal of fun, as one of you plays Pac-Man and the others the ghosts trying to devour him. It puts a lovely spin on a retro favorite that’s sure to be a big hit during your next party or gamer get-together.
Namco Museum on Switch also supports online leaderboards, so you can test your high scoring mettle against other players. It’s a good feature, especially if you’re clawing your way to Galaga history, as I currently am.prevnext
Save Your Quarters And Enjoy This Collection
That said, you’re probably best using a Switch Pro Controller for the game. It’s not that the JoyCons are a bad option, but the analog stick can be twitchy with some games, like Splatterhouse, where I died embarrassingly because I wasn’t able to duck properly. Just a suggestion, it’s nothing the developers did wrong.
There is the question of whether Bandai Namco could’ve poured more into Namco Museum to make it more worthwhile for $30, or perhaps priced it less. We come full circle to my thoughts on Ultra Street Fighter II beforehand, where I said the game offered a significant kickback to the “good ol’ days” of gaming, despite its $40 price tag. Some people will scoff at the idea of $30 for ten (well, eleven) games, but others will see the value right off the bat and enjoy what the game has to offer. Plus, you never know – we could get Namco Museum Vol. 2 down the road, hopefully containing that port of Assault that I want again so badly. (Sorry, loved it in arcades.)
As a whole, Namco Museum has its quirks, but it also has a lot to offer, especially if you were one of those folks dropping quarters into machines back in the classic days of gaming. Reliving some of these great memories, whether at home or on the go, is pretty marvelous, and the new perks and game introductions (Splatterhouse!) are really something. And Bandai Namco has also started a lineage that it can easily build upon with new entries and, more importantly, new ideas. That’s a pretty neat move considering the older franchises at play.
Yes, there are better Namco Museum compilations, but this one is just as worthwhile – especially if you’ve been hankering for a good round of Galaga.0comments
RATING: Four stars (out of five).
Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.prev