Namco Museum (PSP) review
"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me again though and... hey, it looks like I've just bought another Namco Museum. Formulatic, predictable, and oh so tiresome. Yes, you probably already know how this is going to work. Heck, if the truth be told, you should also have a fairly good idea of exactly what games to expect."
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me again though and... hey, it looks like I've just bought another Namco Museum. Formulatic, predictable, and oh so tiresome. Yes, you probably already know how this is going to work. Heck, if the truth be told, you should also have a fairly good idea of exactly what games to expect. Pacman and his lady friend? Check. Galaga? Check. Dig Dug, New/Old Rally-X, and Galaxian? Check, check, and "what else would you want?" check. If this collection's biggest surprise is our host's continued refusal to get with the program, then players should probably be prepared for a level of mediocrity that both numbs the mind and tightens the sphincter. Before we clench however, let us consider how other developers handle their respective "retro" collections. They're not all as bad as this, and doing so may provide us with a solid benchmark from which to judge...
And now for something completely different...
Activision, Atari, and Midway among others... if there's one thing that each of these great developers have in common it would be their enormous generosity of spirit. The truth for them is obvious, they know that their back catalogues are dated. They understand that the vast majority of their dusty classics are good for little more than a cursory waltz down memory lane. And it's in understanding this sad yet inevitable truth that they ensure their collected works speak to players not only from the wallet, but from the very bowels of nostalgia itself. Included supplemental information fleshes out each game while one sheet posters give us all something to smile and reminisce about. Toss in the occasional golden nugget of useless trivia and more often than not, we're already talking a retro gamer's wet dream.
Now take all that and apply it to Namco Museum... disappointing isn't it? As retro in concept as it is in content, its bare bones presentation should come as an early warning signal that something isn't quite right. A small fact that's been further compounded by the mere seven games on offer. So dire is the selection that even those looking to claim the moral high ground in support of this collection may be hard pressed to rally support. Yes, it features half a dozen or so great games, but when you consider that Pacman, Galaxian and Rally-X are almost identical to their included sequels, what does that leave you with? Dig Dug? Oh boy, excuse me while I party on the inside. Ok, to be fair. At least these classics look great on the PSP, and it is kind of nice to play them on the go. Variety though is our friend, and right now that's exactly what we're missing the most...
But then again, Namco would seem to be aware of our concerns and have kind of, in a round about sort of way, most graciously provided for them. For this collection boasts not only 7 arcade roms in their original, vintage states, but a handful of freshly updated reinterpretations as well. And while mostly forgettable (Rally-X and Galaga, I'm looking at you), one or two of these potentially bad ideas do actually manage to entertain longer than one would expect. Take for instance a pseudo Pacmania clone, complete with interactive back ground elements. Or perhaps if you're a Dig Dug kind of guy, the freshly implemented weapon power ups and boss battles could be more to your liking. Dig and pump, wakka-wakka-wakka. Whatever the appeal, one thing is certain: it won't be long before you find yourself right back at square one again...
... starring blankly at the freshly imprinted sales receipt, and wondering where exactly all your money just went.
Mind you, that's not to say that playing it smart won't get you anything. It's more a matter of how Namco Museum is something that you personally, probably shouldn't buy. Why not then take advantage of your good friend's frivolous nature and ask them to not only pick up this release, but upload each of the original games to your Memory Stick Duo as well? It's a fast and simple process, and one that allows for a little, until now, unheard of generosity. Those that do take the plunge however have my deepest condolences, there just isn't really enough going on here to justify the expense. Had Namco decided to shake things up a tad, perhaps by including a few neglected lost classics, then we may have been able to spark even a moderate amount of interest. As things stand though, Namco Museum is little more than a 3,500 yen, slap to the face. Avoid it if you can...
* Pacman, Galaga, Dig Dug et al are still as playable as ever
* Controls, sound, everything is as expected, arcade perfect
* The updated version of Pacman is really quite good fun
* Wifi connectivity allows players to send the "original" games to their friend's Memory Stick Duo
* At least its not full price
* Same old, same old
* If you've already picked up a Namco Museum before, you won't be needing this one
* There's too much repetition in the line up
* Not all of the "updated" classics are worthwhile
* Namco have failed to include any supplemental material of any kind
* When will Namco learn the meanings of variety and generosity?
Staff review by Michael Scott (March 01, 2005)
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