STAFF REVIEW of Namco Museum (Xbox)
Sunday, February 8, 2004.
Do you remember the days of Pac-Man, Galaga, and Dig-Dug? The days when gaming was great? I know, I know, this sounds like the beginning of one of those campy late-night television adds for a whole compilation of the greatest hits of the 1980's... But essentially, that's exactly what this game is- Only with more Pole Position and less Flock of Seaguls. (If you're old enough to get that joke, this might be the game for you).
Namco has long been a leader in the ever-evolving arcade game industry, and is now known especially well for it's smash hit Soul Calibur series. With this game however, they throw things waaay back to the days of quarter-munching 8 and 16-bit majesty. Included in this compilation, is: Galaga, Pole Position (1 +2), Galaxian, Dig-Dug, Ms. Pac-Man, and of course Pac-Man. (As well as two more unlockable games- But I won't runi those for you- being that they're the only surprise in the game). In addition to these, the game also offers "arranged" versions of Pac-Man, Galaga, and Dig-Dug... Read: Slapped together compilations that do the originals a greivous injustice. Overall the finished product could have used a great deal more polish and additional features... But odds are that if you're looking into buying a game like this, you're probably looking to reminisce and kick it retro style- Put on your acid-washed jean jackets and hop in the thunderbird. Here we go!
For the most part, the games in NM handle just as well as their early arcade couterparts, only now we resort to running from ghosts, dodging asteroids, and winning the checkered flag with a thumbstick instead of a full on joystick. The buttons translate well (on the games that use them), but I wish that I could have had a full-out arcade gaming pad to play this puppy with. Also, playing both of the pole position games just isn't quite the same without a wheel. Sure the control is all there, but it's little inconsistencies like this that really take away from the overall charm of the title.
Let's be realistic here- Don't expect Halo, and for that matter, don't expect Kabuki Warriors. To accurately score this game visually, consider the timeframe we're dealing with here. The graphics are practically identical to what you would find on a really nice, really clean, (and really old) arcade display. One element I thought was pretty nifty was the fact that the screen displays each game exactly as it first appeared. What this means is you can look to the right side of the screen while playing Dig-Dug and see your score grow and post. I know it's a little thing, but really- it does help the game feel more like you're playing an actual arcade machine than a home television. While I think some souped-up graphics would have been really cool, the images on the screen aren't why we keep coming back (after all these years) to our beloved Pac-Man, Galaga or Pole Position. I have to give this one a decent visual score, because it accomplishes exactly what it initially set out to do.
It's a whole lot of MIDI, kiddies. As with the visual score, the sound in this game does exactly what it sets out to do. All of the little blurbs, ghosts, engines, and asteroid collisions sound true to the original. You'll hear all of the familiar tunes and MIDI jams that you grew up on within this game, and really I wasn't disappointed. I play games like this for nostalgic reasons, not so much for the bells and whistles.
I'd like to see a better interface between the games and the menus- And perhaps a few additional videos, or unlockables would have really helped as well. For my $30 dollars, I really expected a bit more out of this game, seeing as how Namco has offered gamers (pretty-much) this same package for years now spanning several different systems. Do something to give this game a bit more staying power as well- It'd be a fun one to bust out when all of your (older) friends come over, but all-in-all, what does this game deliver than an emulator, or for that matter, our very own XBA arcade can't? Whitesnake rules!
Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10