reviews\ Oct 13, 2002 at 8:00 pm

Namco Museum - GC - Review

Let me toss a couple of names out, and see if you know what they all have in common … George Lucas, Shigeru Miyamoto, and Henry Ford. Give up? Well, they are all revolutionaries in one way or another in their field. Lucas in the movies, Miyamoto in Nintendo games like Zelda and Metroid, and of course Henry Ford and the automobile. Now, if I said Tohru Iwatani, you may or may not agree based on whether or not you know who he is. For those of you who don’t, he was the creative genius behind the one game which many (me included) think put video games on the map … Pac Man. The little, yellow, round guy who can’t stop eating and still appears in games over 20 years since his initial creation. Namco has brought Pac and some of his buddies along for a new collection of older titles on the Gamecube.


Namco Museum is a good early arcade collector game package, complete with some classic gaming hits like Pac Man, Galaxian, and Pole Position … to name a few. Overall, there are 7 classic titles to choose from at the get - go, and three “arrangement” modes as well, which I’ll discuss in a moment. Each game has it’s own options set which allows you to set the number of lives, overall challenge, and bonus targets for extra lives … which helps to determine how easy or difficult it will be up front.


Now, “Arrangement” modes of Pac Man, Dig Dug, and Galaga are where the real enjoyment lied for me personally. I’m an O.G. at heart, and love the classics, but getting them re-done was a fun spin off of the titles that I grew up with. The arrangement modes throw in some mildly updated graphics, some new tricks or enemies (Bosses in Dig Dug … who would have thought?), and some really wacky new level designs to increase the challenge and give you something a little new. Galaga about gave me motion sickness during the challenge stage for cryin' out loud, and I was having fun zipping up and down stairs in a Pac Man hedge maze. Unlike the original titles, some of these will actually end at some point as well, so there are similarities to the original game, but enough to make it just a little different.


The originals packed into the game are 100% identical to their arcade counterparts of the same names. Each one is a perfectly emulated version of the stand up versions, and can provide a lot of nostalgic fun minus the continuous loss of quarters that we used to go through in a 30 minute setting (That’s right kids … back in my day it was only 25 cents to play a video game, and I walked uphill 5 miles in the snow barefoot both ways to get to the local arcade too). 


Now the big downside to Namco Museum … strangely enough … is the same thing that makes it such a great buy for many, including myself. Arcade classics just don’t seem to carry the same “oomph” that they did back in the day when you put them next to a modern cel shaded RPG which lasts for 40 hours and has you going to various worlds and packing extreme magic or firepower … at least not for the younger gamers these days. I showed this to my 8 year old who bluntly stated “Dad, I don’t want to play those old games that you grew up with”, then promptly went back to saving humanity from an orc onslaught. I began to tell him “If it wasn’t for Pac Man, you wouldn’t have Warcraft!”, but then thought better of it. Oh well … I guess kids will be kids.


Overall, I would definitely recommend this game to those of us who remember what it meant to catch “Pac Man fever”, those of us who remember what a technological breakthrough it was when they added a bow to Ms. Pac Man’s hair (she’s in it too), or those of us who remember what kind of hero you were to the other fifth graders in your class when you could brag about hitting the 20th stage of Galaga. Kids may get some enjoyment out of it as well, but not as much as us classic gamers would appreciate. So sit back, throw on a “Best of the 80’s” CD, and re – live the good old days when games were games and we Original Gamers were all broke.  


Gameplay: 7.8
One word … simple. Each game either used one button and a joystick, or just the joystick only. There are two other classics to unlock as well, and the original games have no ending, so there’s no real end to the replayability. More games to choose from than just 12 would have been a good addition.


Graphics: 7.9
Each game is 100% accurate to it’s original counterpart, which is a good thing … but not by today’s standards. The arrangement modes add some neat colors and extras, but it’s all kind of the same thing with a little modern touch.


Sound: 7.5
Ahh … brings me back to the good old arcade days. I forgot how annoying the Pac Man siren can get on stereo though. Overall, it’s the same sounds, noises, and music from the 80’s.


Difficulty: Easy
Each game, classic or arrangement, has it’s own options to make the game harder or easier. Since the controls were very simple, it’s easy for a veteran as well as a newcomer to pick up and hop right into.  


Concept: 7.5
All of the original titles uncut and not changed a bit. The arrangements are a neat upgrade of the titles I grew up with, but overall the same basic elements at their core.


Multiplayer: 7.6
Two player, quarter gobbling arcade action at it’s finest. If you have another person who likes the classics as much as you do, it’s a lot of fun.  


Overall: 7.5
Overall, the games remain a top item on my personal list, and I can still sit and play them for hours. Newcomers or younger gamers hopefully will try it out and see where the fun is, but ultimately this game is for those of us who grew up during that golden 80’s era.  


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