Kaiser Reviews… SLEIGHT
September 26, 2017
Baltimore Reviews… FEUD: BETTE AND JOAN (Series)
September 30, 2017

Chapman Reviews… NAMCO MUSEUM (SWITCH)

With all of the recent Total Geek Live talk of arcade gaming, it seems fitting to talk about one of the longest running arcade gaming compilations on consoles: Namco Museum.

Namco Museum has been around since the Playstation One days, always giving sample bites of Namco’s enduring history in the arcades (and in some instances, home console gaming).  The latest release, digitally released on Nintendo Switch, keeps the formula the same, but does offer a few new selections that haven’t been on these compilations before.

The selections are:

Dig Dug – The blue and white hero (who actually does have an official name: Taizo Hori) digs and dugs underground to clear out the balloon-like Pookas and Frygar dragons with his air pump.

Galaga – A sequel to Galaxian, this game offers faster action, and a chance to have dual firepower if you can rescue one of your captured ships.

Galaga ’88 – An update to the classic, featuring better graphics, colorful animations, and new power-ups.

Pac-Man – The game that defined ’80’s arcades. Guide the chomping yellow ball through a maze of dots while avoiding four tricky ghosts.

Pac-Man Vs. – Originally debuted on the Nintendo Gamecube, this multi-player game allows gamers to take control of Pac-Man or the ghosts in a “who eats who first” battle.

Rolling Thunder – A spy action platformer, Rolling Thunder allows games to take the role of Albatross in order to save his partner, and stop the crime syndicate Geldra.

Rolling Thunder 2 – Featuring better graphics and two-player action, Albatross is paired with his partner Leila to continue the mission.

Sky Kid – A cute, two-player plane shooter adventure that allows the Sky Kids to loop and shoot down enemy forces and bomb their strongholds.

Splatterhouse – A true horror game, Rick Taylor must attempt to save his girlfriend Jennifer from the nightmarish and extremely gory West Mansion.

Tank Force – A cross between Combat for the Atari 2600, and the tank scene from the Tron arcade, players must stop enemy tanks from destroying their home base.

Tower of Druaga – An early dungeon crawler arcade game, where the hero can gain new items and abilities by completing specific in-level tasks.

The overall presentation is nice, and the games look exactly as they should.  The control is also very responsive and plays well on the Switch controller, which is crucial as split-second decisions can determine whether the player will survive to see that next level or not.

The HD Rumble the Switch controller has is also presented well here.  It’s subtle, but feels really good when Rick whacks a ghoul into the wall, or Pac-Man eats a fleeing ghost.  The rumble is a surprising feature which I didn’t know that I would want, but enjoy the “feel good” experience that it presents.  There are, of course, online leaderboards, and even save states for longer games (though saving cancels out your chance to rank online, which is more than fair).

It’s a unique selection of games overall.  Pac-Man and Galaga are basically always a given in any of these compilations.  Splatterhouse is an extremely surprising addition, but welcome to me as I’ve only ever played the TurboGrafx-16 version before.

That said, Splatterhouse pushes the ESRB rating up to a “T”, and in some ways, it could almost be pushed up to an “M” due to its themes of extreme gore and religious themes.  The arcade definitely steps up the shock value over the home version with severed hands that give you the middle finger, evil crosses, and a pretty depressing ending.  Still, I was pleased to have finally played the original game in its full, twisted form.

The two biggest issues that I have with Namco Museum are subjective: The first one being that I do wish the presentation was better for the package.  The original Playstation games had a fully rendered museum that players could walk through, looking at memorabilia and themed rooms for each game.  The amount of statistical detail for each game was incredibly in-depth as well, ranging as deep as to how many total dots, strawberries or Binky the ghosts have been eaten over your career of playing Pac-Man, or whatever game at hand.

Secondly, I think we’re in the age that the “fixed compilation” needs to come to an end.  Microsoft briefly explored this concept with Game Room on the Xbox 360, where you could pick and choose your games, and place them within a specific arcade setting to play.  With dozens or titles at its disposal, companies like Namco can allow room for an expansive “virtual arcade” so players don’t have to buy the same game for each system with slight content variations, but rather manage a customizable arcade that supports future growth.

At $29.99, a collection of classic arcade games is going to depend on how much you like this type of pick up and play action, and if the offered library is strong enough to encourage a purchase.  For me, the prospect of Splatterhouse‘s inclusion was a strong sell, and while there is fun to be had with the other titles, especially for an at home and on the go setting, player value will vary based on what’s offered.

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