Namco\'s done quite nicely for themselves the past few decades. One of the original major companies to strike their fortune in video games during the heydey of the seventies and eighties, it\'s pretty remarkable to think that a substantial part of their fortune is entirely owed to a funny little game that came out of game creator Tohru Iwatani taking a slice out of a pizza and then suddenly coining the idea for Pac Man from the image of his dinner.
And Pac Man\'s what we all came out for, isn\'t it? Namco Museum 50th Anniversary Collection follows the same general formula as the perennial Namco Museum releases we\'ve seen arrive regularly on every platform going back to the Playstation.
What you get for your buck will depend entirely on whether or not perfect recreations of arcade games from twenty five years ago are the kind of thing that make your toes curl and your pulse race. This time around the lineup of titles is padded out a bit - Pac Man, Ms. Pac Man, Galaga, Galaxian, Dig Dug, Pole Position, Pole Position II have already graced the Xbox on the prior Namco Museum release, but Rally X, Xevious, Dragon Spirit, Bosconian, Rolling Thunder, Mappy, and Sky Kid round out the whole roster along with a few unlockable variants.
Disappointingly, despite the title of Namco Museum the disc only offers the games themselves, exactly as they looked, sounded, and played two decades ago. Some video vignettes on the creation of some of the games, the personalities behind them, or even just on the general phenomenon (craze) of arcade gaming in the eighties would have been really welcome. Unfortunately, all you get is the games, and fortunately they still speak for themselves pretty well despite their age. These games were meant to be learned in fifteen seconds watching over the shoulder of the guy playing in front of you while you waited your turn, and they were meant to be played with a slice of pizza in your hand in a room full of jostling gamers.
A nifty 3D interface showing the arcade cabinets themselves is a nice touch, giving you an impression of browsing the arcade looking for the best spot to dump your quarters, and the soundtrack (licensed eighties rock) is a nice touch, but I still want more. Most of the gamers who are interested enough in these games to actually play them are probably netsavvy enough to know about emulation, and so if they\'re paying $20 for the game it\'s the extras they\'re coming out for. Lack of any XBox Live support whatsoever (online scoreboards would have been nice) and the lack of custom soundtrack support are sore points, too, as these are a natch for the Xbox platform and the subject material. In short, this is a good one to pick up if you don\'t already own one of the prior Namco Museum releases, but at a mere $20 it\'s hard to call it a rental option only. These games are worth revisiting and they\'re still fun. And thankfully, they hold up on their own.