This retro collection is polished with a mixture of classic Namco arcade games and some major clunkers.
Bandai Namco has been making games for nearly 40 years now, releasing many compilation titles along the way for various consoles. Namco Museum for the Nintendo Switch continues the trend, offering an array of classic arcade titles -- some that video game enthusiasts will instantly recognize, and others that have rarely been seen since their initial launch. The good news is that the presentation is top notch, providing a number of bells and whistles that bring some of the games successfully into the 21st century. Unfortunately, not every game is worth playing again all these years later, leaving Namco Museum with a great presentation and a middling roster of titles.
The first thing I noticed was that Bandai Namco took great care in polishing these titles for release. Each game looks great, with arcade cabinet artwork being shown along the borders as you play. You can even flip the Switch’s screen horizontally to give it that arcade cabinet feel. The inclusion of game settings and save points make some of the games easier to go through, especially if it’s your first time playing and are still trying to figure out the controls. I went through that with some of the titles since I have never played them before, so it was pretty nice to rely on more modern concepts like save states to help me through.
Some of the games included in the collection will be instantly familiar to long time video game fans. Pac-Man, Dig Dug, and Galaga are all here, faithfully represented and restored for 2017 consumption. All three games are timeless in gameplay and execution, making them still fun to play all these years later.
Lesser known titles round out the pack. Sky Kid, a horizontal shooter, was fun. It’s kind of different than other horizontal shooters I’ve played in terms of gameplay mechanics, but kept it simple enough to where I enjoyed it. Tank Force, making its North American debut, is a pretty cool directional shooter that has you clear tanks across a battlefield all while providing upgrades along the way that makes it easier to exterminate. Galaga ‘88 is a nice sequel to the original Galaga. It was a little bit harder than it’s predecessor, but I appreciated the updated graphics and great soundtrack.
One of the bigger inclusions in this compilation is Pac-Man Vs., a GameCube title that used the GameCube link cable to play a unique game of tag using the GameCube and the Game Boy Advance. For the Nintendo Switch, two consoles are required as one Switch console will have you play as Pac-Man, while three other players on another Switch play as ghosts running away from Pac-Man. The goal is to collect a designated amount of points, either by playing as Pac-Man and chomping away at ghosts, or as the ghosts trying to capture Pac-Man.
This was easily the best game out of the entire collection, and probably worth picking up for this game alone. It’s a wee bit shallow as I wish there were more maps or some power ups that could vary the gameplay and give it replayability, but this was still very entertaining to play. It does a fantastic job of taking the original Pac-Man’s gameplay and turning it into a very enjoyable multiplayer experience.
Not every game is a classic here, however. Rolling Thunder, a run -and -gun where you shoot random masked dudes, feels completely archaic both in presentation and control mechanics. The sequel is a bit more colorful and feels slightly more modern, but still suffers from its predecessor’s control scheme.
I was looking forward to playing Splatterhouse the most as I always felt it had a cool horror movie aesthetic. But unfortunately, it too also suffers from control problems, particularly during boss fights. Tower of Druaga is one of the slowest games in the collection and is a complete chore to get through. To me, it felt like such a bore trudging through the levels in the slowest manner possible. It’s pretty much one of those games that might have fared well in 1984, but doesn’t cut it at all decades later.
I had fun with Namco Museum. Some of the titles are bona fide classics that deserve a place on every console, past, present, or future. Other titles are probably best left as distant memories. The presentation of the collection is great, however, and the inclusion of save states, game settings, and online leaderboards make it feel like a fresh, modern day compilation. I think better games could have been included in a collection such as this, but for now, Namco Museum suffices as a decent, but flawed collection of titles.