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Namco Museum: Virtual Arcade (Xbox 360) artwork

Namco Museum: Virtual Arcade (Xbox 360) review


"When the Namco Museum series debuted on the original PlayStation, it showed a lot of promise. From 1996 to 1997 (in the US), volumes were released a few months apart from one another, each containing a varied collection of games from the 1980s: Pac-Man, Metro-Cross, Ordyne, Galaga, Dragon Spirit, and so on. If you've played an 80s Namco title, chances are it was in one of these volumes. Namco could have just thrown these games on each disc with a simple menu and called it a day, but they put act..."



When the Namco Museum series debuted on the original PlayStation, it showed a lot of promise. From 1996 to 1997 (in the US), volumes were released a few months apart from one another, each containing a varied collection of games from the 1980s: Pac-Man, Metro-Cross, Ordyne, Galaga, Dragon Spirit, and so on. If you've played an 80s Namco title, chances are it was in one of these volumes. Namco could have just thrown these games on each disc with a simple menu and called it a day, but they put actual effort into these compilations. Every release has a different intro showcasing characters from every game causing havoc just for the hell of it. Not to be outdone, every disc also has virtual museums that you can navigate through, and each game's section has a special look and feel to them. If you enter the Galaga section, you'll see various displays and pictures about the game, and in the following room, you'll find yourself in a spaceship with the Galaga arcade cabinet stationed in the middle. To top it off, an upbeat, remixed version of the main theme plays in the background. Go into the Pac-Land corner, though, and you'll walk on to a beach, where Pac-Man and the Misses are relaxing beside a table cabinet of the game.

You could really tell they put a lot of love into these collections.

Sadly, the love went away once the PlayStation run came to its end with Volume 5. With the following installments, Namco became extremely lazy, pumping out versions without the virtual museums and hardly any variations. It became so bad that you could predict what would be on the next release and get it right: Pac-Man, Galaga, Dig Dug, Pole Position, Ms. Pac-Man, and one game switched out with another that was in a previous version. As if things could not get any worse, the biggest joke, titled Namco Museum: 50th Anniversary, was released. News flash: Don't claim to be celebrating 50 years if you're only going to focus on one decade. And no, including 80s songs doesn't help.

However, some of the latest incarnations have seen minor improvements. I really do stress the word minor, because, even with the improvements, these still consist mainly of the same games that were featured in the PlayStation series. From the 1990s. Namco Museum: Virtual Arcade happens to be one of these "minor improvements" releases, and, in fact, is the best of the bunch. Hilariously, it also just happens to be a remixed version of Namco Museum Battle Collection for the PSP. Most games from that collection has survived the trip to the Xbox 360, even the Arrangement titles (fancy way of saying sequel, really) for Pac-Man, Dig Dug, and Galaga. Oddly, though, New Rally-X Arrangement is nowhere to be seen. Either Namco didn't believe it was as good as the others, or they were just continuing their wonderful tradition of not wanting to put every Namco Museum inductee on one collection. Most likely the latter.

So, then, how is this better than Battle Collection? Well, along with the typical Museum library and the Arrangement titles, Namco also threw in three of their new Live Arcade games, which are Pac-Man Championship Edition, Galaga Legions, and Mr. Driller Online. Two are quality games that do their repective franchises proud, while adding fresh elements: Galaga Legions has a hectic play-style that forces you to memorize patterns to survive, and Pac-Man CE includes different, timed modes, one of which takes place in the dark. Mr. Driller Online isn't bad, but it's ultimately just a simple rehash with online play. There's actually six other Live Arcade titles, but they're the usual Museum games, except this time with achievements and leaderboards. So, if you add everything together, there's a total of 34 games, old and new, in Namco Museum: Virtual Arcade. And it's all for the original retail price of $30. Hell, you could probably find it new for $20 now. Whether you've bought a previous, lame version or never purchased a Namco Museum title, this is the one to get. With the current total of games appearing in the Namco Museum series being at 58 (and I'm only counting the US compilations), this is the closest that one of these collections has gotten to being complete.

Now I just wish Namco would stop being so lazy, give the same 80s games a rest, and try releasing a fresh batch of games in a new Namco Museum collection. There's a ton of games from the 1980s that haven't had a shot yet, not to mention the entire 1990s. Seriously, how awesome would it be to buy a Namco Museum that included the Splatterhouse games, the other Rolling Thunder titles, the first Ridge Racers, Klonoa, Tekken 3, and Soul Blade? Hell, with their light gun games not being able to work on anything other than SD TVs, they could release a Time Crisis/Point Blank collection on the Wii. Think of the profits, Namco! Unfortunately, I think we're going to be stuck with the company releasing the same games over and over for an additional 15 years...

Rating: 8/10

pickhut's avatar
Community review by pickhut (February 11, 2010)

PickHut has this weird fondness for the Sega Saturn. Even though he's aware that most of the game's are either decent or terrible, he still wants to play them.

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zippdementia posted February 12, 2010:

Nice review, pickhut.
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pickhut posted February 12, 2010:

Thanks.

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