A lot of people in the industry bring up games that are ported and brought out to every platform, every single generation. Skyrim and Resident Evil definitely get the most notice, but one franchise floats by like a little bee, spreading its namesake without question or contest, with little complaints from audiences. Namco Museum has been around for decades now, ensuring we get our Pac-Man and Dig Dug fixes, while offering other arcade classics to check out in low-cost bundles. As you would guess, Namco Museum Archives Volumes 1 & 2 seem to be a perfect fit for the Switch and have brought back some favorites with new features for the portable platform. How do these play? Let’s find out.
Well, to be honest – aside from the mild narratives within a few of these titles, there is no engrossing story as most of these titles are simply arcade-centric gameplay, with a few bits and pieces of dialogue sprinkled in for progression’s sake.
That said, the titles featured within both of these bundles are as follows:
- Dig Dug (1985)
- Dragon Buster (1987)
- Dragon Spirit: The New Legend (1989)
- Galaxian (1984)
- Mappy (1984)
- Pac-Man (1984)
- Pac-Man Championship Edition (2007)
- Sky Kid (1986)
- Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti (1989)
- The Tower of Druaga (1985)
- Xevious (1984)
- Battle City (1985)
- Dig Dug II (1986)
- Dragon Buster II (1989)
- Galaga (1985)
- Gaplus (1984)
- Legacy of the Wizard (1987)
- Mappy-Land (1986)
- Mendel Palace (1989)
- Pac-Land (1985)
- Rolling Thunder (1989)
- Super Xevious: GAMP no Nazo (1986)
It would take quite a while to detail every game in both collections, so I will save you from having to hear me detail how Pac-Man plays and talk about the unique features brought by these new versions of old favorites. First, and this may have been around for a while, I have to talk about the rewind feature as while I am sure other Namco Museum collections have had this, it definitely feels useful here as players can erase their own mistakes. I think Nintendo and Sega refined this in a lot of their ports, and it feels natural for Namco here as I cannot tell you how many times I had to erase bad decisions in Galaga and Xevious, which can get a lot harder than I remember as you progress.
Players can also make use of the “save” option, where they are able to load one of four prior save files that can be created anywhere. Those of us who have always wanted to go until the end of Pac-Man now will find that goal much more possible with these features in play. This was also the first time I have played Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti, which is a side-scroller with a lot of character that I honestly enjoyed way more than I should have. Pac-Man: Championship Edition also was a nice addition, but this version is a “demake”, featuring the same quick gameplay, but with graphics more tuned to the original. Sure, it will not be a selling point, but a nice addition, nevertheless.
Both Namco Museum Archives volumes featured are absolutely fine compilations, and the features are all rather traditional for these types of releases, but I did feel a little disappointed to not see a little more applied to these ports. The menus are a bit barren and bland, and I feel like some unlockable content and unique variations of the titles within could have made it feel a little more special, as a whole. That is just a quick nit-pick and the value for what you are getting is still excellent, but I do think it would have been fantastic to get a more “museum” type experience if we got some history lessons and details of how these games came to be.
The visuals work as they should, and I never had any slowdown or stuttering from any port I played. After how many times we have seen this compilation ported I feel that should be expected, but it is still good to see that Namco still insert quality control into even what could be considered a quick port-job. I also want to take a moment to state that it would have been nice to have wallpapers that were more focused on the titles we are actually playing, rather than the generic galaxy background or a bunch of icons from Galaga.
The audio is also fine, as titles like Pac-Man to Dragon Spirit still have maintained their same melodies and sound effects that are sure to bring out that nostalgia from those looking to visit the past. That also brings up another missed opportunity, as an in-game jukebox would have been awesome to have, and considering most modern compilations do have that feature, I find it a bit odd that Namco have yet to add it in after all of these years.
Namco Museum Archives: Volume 1 and 2 is yet another worthy compilation that feels right at home on the Switch. That said, with other companies adding more and more fan service to their own collections, getting the “bare bones” treatment here makes this release feel like a cash grab, rather than a true tribute. The games still play great and that is what matters, so those itching to play their favorite Namco romp will be happy with the offerings here, where the portability and value easily make up for any shortcomings.
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