Pac-Man and Galaga Dimensions Review

Namco has been producing arcade compilations for years. Just look at any of the company’s Namco Museum collections, and you’ll see that they’re quite proud of their arcade heritage. (With that, hey, Namco, how about some downloadable versions of Ordyne and Assault?) So it kind of frustrates us when we see a collection for a new game system that’s even more limited than the ones they’ve been pumping out. Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions is such a collection.

Rather than packing the cartridge chock full of variations of Pac-Man and Galaga (including their respective sequels, like Pac-Mania and Galaga ’88 – always good for a quick play), we end up getting six games in all, and only 2/3 of that package is worth anything. Oddly enough, the losers of the bunch end up being the newest variations of these long-lasting legacies. Guess that’s what you get when you mess with a proven formula.

Case in point. First up, we have Pac-Man Tilt, a platformer where you guide Pac-Man through a Sonic-like world, bouncing around levels and avoiding dangers. Hey, we have no problem with ol’ Pac taking on a platformer. His Pac-Man World games weren’t too bad for their time. The problem is that the game requires you to use the 3DS’ gyroscopic sensors in order to get the most out of play. Also, if you’ve got the 3D slider turned on all the way full, this makes it literally impossible to play, due to the ever-shifting 3D screen. Even if you do manage to turn the slider off, you’re stuck with a watered-down platformer that never lives up to its potential.

Then there’s Galaga 3D Impact, and honestly, this is possibly the worst one in the series that we’ve played since the screwed up PS One revamp. You fly across 3D stages, shooting at Galagas while occasionally collecting power-ups using the help of a tractor beam. The visuals aren’t half bad, but the gameplay gets stale very quickly. Within about half an hour, you’re likely to get bored. No, scratch that. You WILL get bored. Namco would’ve been better off trying to include the 3D shooter style stages from the Namco Museum games on Wii.

As for the four other games, they fare much better. The first two are authentic arcade ports of the original Pac-Man and Galaga, complete with respective arcade cabinet design. They’re a little confusing at first due to the way the cabinets are set up (for the long-form view), but after adjusting a little bit, you’ll find these classics are just as much fun as they were in the 80’s.

The other two games fare much better. Pac-Man Championship Edition, which originally came out for Xbox Live Arcade so long ago, is still terrific. You’ll race around with Pac-Man through timed stages, eating as much dots and ghosts as possible while adjusting to various challenges. Galaga Legions also makes its portable debut, with numerous variations of bugs to blast while trying to keep in one piece. The 3D touches added to these games are pretty cool, providing a fresh perspective from when you played them previously for download. Too bad they’re not the DX editions, though.

Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions isn’t without its worth, thanks to the four great games included here, but there are two things to consider. Number one, the asking price is way too high. For $19.99, this would’ve been a reasonable deal, but for double that, only the hardcore arcade enthusiasts will probably consider adding it to their library. Sorry to say, but this would’ve been the time for Namco to introduce a budget price – or at least more games to balance the cost.

Number two, the other technical features are lackluster. The game does feature leaderboard support on the Wi-Fi Connection, but it only saves your single top score for each game, and comparing it to other friends has you jumping through more hoops than what was needed. Also, the game's save system is tricky. You can’t delete default saves, but you can do a button combination (holding A, B, X, Y, L and R while the game loads). Again, a hurdle that wasn’t really necessary to jump over.

Had more games and a lesser price point been considered, Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions would’ve been a great part of the Nintendo 3DS line-up. Unfortunately, despite the presence of four classic games, it just never meshes – and the two cruddy, new games don’t help enough. Go find a copy of Namco Museum on the original Nintendo DS instead. It's a far better value.

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Robert Workman
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