Tate mode and Pac-Man Vs. highlights this collection of 11 classic arcade titles.
Developer: BANDAI NAMCO Studios Inc.
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment America Inc.
Consoles: Switch (Reviewed)
MonsterVine was provided a Switch code for review purposes
Being that my formative years came about during the early 2000s, some of the more obscure titles Namco Museum has in store as an ’80s arcade compilation are quite new to me. So please excuse the — potentially — blasphemous declaration that there’s a few stinkers involved.
Primarily, Splatterhouse and to a lesser extent, The Tower of Druaga. The former is a platformer clearly inspired by Friday the 13th‘s Jason and lays all its hope on that inspiration with average gameplay. The latter might be seen as a predecessor to The Legend of Zelda and Ys, but it’s a little too sluggish to get into and the difficulty doesn’t help its accessibility.
Other than the aforementioned titles, the rest of the games included in Namco Museum hold up remarkably well and in a great package to boot. The presentation is top-notch whether you play on your HDTV or in handheld mode with plenty of selectable display options.
Want CRT scanlines? You got it. Rotate the screen 90 degrees (read: tate mode)? No problem. Zoom in with vertical/horizontal adjustments or fixed dot size? Yup.
Playing Pac-Man and Galaga in tate mode is a great way to experience them on the go as long as you find a sturdy stand to hold up your Switch — heck, you even have the option of doing that with your HDTV if you can manage to safely stand it on its side.
Namco Museum includes:
Dig Dug, Galaga, Galaga ’88, Pac-Man, Pac-Man Vs., Rolling Thunder, Rolling Thunder 2, Sky Kid, Splatterhouse, Tank Force, and The Tower of Druaga.
All the arcade titles included in Namco Museum play just like you remember them and some really stood out to me that I had not played before. Namely, the Rolling Thunder series and Tank Force which came as a pleasant surprise.
The Rolling Thunder series isn’t perfect, but are challenging — if simple — shooter platformers that require quick reflexes and plenty use of cover-fire. It’s also cool to see the evolution from one game to the next in the same collection as Rolling Thunder 2 is smoother to play, more cinematic, and a blast to play with a buddy as you’re both on the screen simultaneous.
Tank Force holds up as an intense co-op experience where your partner is both a great ally and your worst enemy. Every level requires you to work together to stay alive yet also allows for bragging rights as your scores are individually tallied at the end of each challenge. It makes for some great adversarial co-op exchanges not seen too often in recent games.
Of course, the most enjoyable experience I had with Namco Museum was playing Pac-Man Vs. with two Switch systems — one was used to play as Pac-Man and the second as the ghosts. It’s an asymmetrical multiplayer experience unlike any other as every character on the Pac-Man board is led by a human opponent.
The original Pac-Man prided itself in each of the ghosts having a distinct personality: the leader, the unpredictable one, the “speedy” one, and the one that “acts stupid.” When humans take over, the dynamic can go from “unpredictable” to “aggressively flank and kill Pac-Man” really quickly.
Each of the six levels included alters the play space to create advantages and disadvantages. The “Original Pac-Man” level seems to be the most balanced while “Haunted Hall” caters to the ghosts more as it’s easier to trap Pac-Man in, just to name a few of the stages.
Pac-Man Vs first appeared during the GameCube era with multiple Game Boy Advances plugged in, then on DS with Namco Museum DS, but on the Switch, it’s the easiest way to get going. It only requires one copy of the game and the second Switch needs only the free Download Play-esque app on the eShop to play.
A challenge mode to each of the games, except Pac-Man Vs., is included which is usually giving you three minutes to get the highest score on a particular level or quickly getting to a certain stage. Difficulty options, level select, and one save slot per game rounds out the package.
Namco Museum is a solid collection of arcade titles and, of course, its value is inherently tied into the nostalgia (or curiosity) you have for the games of yesteryear. The classics (i.e. Pac-Man and Galaga) hold up in spectacular fashion with great display options, along with fun platformers in the first two Rolling Thunders, and multiplayer gems like Tank Force and Pac-Man Vs.. And, yeah, Splatterhouse and The Tower of Druaga get thrown in as reminders of relics father time gladly left behind.
– MonsterVine Review Score: 4 out of 5 – Good