Namco Museum Archives Vol 1 & 2 (Switch) Review
Pac-Man is undoubtedly a video game icon, you don’t need to be big on gaming to recognise him. Namco is responsible for a lot of arcade classics. Once gaming consoles became a thing, a lot of games got ported onto every platform they could jam them on. The Namco Museum Archives (Vol 1&2) contains the NES/Namcot versions. While there is a previous Namco collection, those were for the arcade versions and these archives extend out to some of the lesser known titles. So should these retro titles be welcomed back into your home, or left in a museum? Time to brush up on some gaming history.
Across the two volumes you’ll find some of the classics such as Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Galaga and Xevious. There’s 11 games per collection, 10 older titles and one 8-bit demake. Volume 1 comes with Pac-man Championship Edition and Volume 2 gets Gaplus. Both of these bonus games were some of the more enjoyable amongst the group. The Pac-Man Championship demake easily makes the original NES Pac-Man look like a chump, and that’s not hard given Ms. Pac-Man makes the original game look bare bones. Not only does it make me wish the Switch got the first Championship Edition game in all its glory, but also that it’s about time Ms. Pac-Man was included in these collections. Hell even Pac-Land makes it through this time!
As mentioned there’s Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Mappy/Mappy-Land, Galaga and Xevious and more. They’re the Namcot versions of course, but they all run well enough, They’re also games you’re likely to have encountered in previous collections over the years. The games that stood out for me were some of the lesser known games, I only found out about them through this collection myself.
Dragon Spirit: The New Legend is a shmup that has you controlling a dragon instead of the usual plane or spaceship. You’re still shooting and dropping bombs, only now it’s out of a dragon! When you pick up upgrades you can get extra fireballs, or extra dragon heads, and even extra fireballs coming out of the extra heads! I didn’t expect much after not enjoying Xevious that much, but this was an entertaining game amongst the set.
Mendel Palace happens to be Game Freak’s first game. I never always understood what I was doing, but it was still pretty entertaining working it out. You compete in an arena where you flip cards that make up the floor of the arena to push your enemies out of bounds. It’s one of the few games I could see myself coming back to play.
Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti is a more cartoony take on the violent Splatterhouse games. It’s a fun time, and makes Splatterhouse way cuter than it has any right being. It’s nothing fancy, it’s enjoyable and one of the games in the collection that it has a real charm to it. It was never localised or released in English so it’s also somewhat a rarity.
Some of the games in the collection have never been localised or released in the west (or Australia), and some are also rarities. While each volume has at least five good games, there’s a few clunkers in each too. With a collection of retro games like this the value of each game is really subjective, hell personal value of any game is subjective! I personally had a fairly boring time with Dragon Buster 1 and 2, Legacy of the Wizard and The Tower of Druaga. I had fond memories of Pac-Land from when I was little, but I never got that far into the game. Many years after that experience I now discovered that hell has a special place for Pac-Land.
When it comes to collections of 30 year old games, it’s unavoidable that the majority of them have aged or have long seen better versions since then. If you enjoy checking out old retro games, especially some that have previously been unavailable, there’s a fair variety to try out. Whether they’re good or bad, there’s still value in checking them out. But if you want the best of 80s-90s Namco, you may end up disappointed.
There are no real bonuses that come with these collections, no art or interviews. Besides the brief info after you select the game, that’s pretty much it. Each game has the fairly standard save states and the ability to rewind. It’s always great being able to rewind these retro games, especially when you want to see some of the tougher games through to the end. My only issue here is that the rewind doesn’t seem to always work, and the button placement to rewind is unhelpful. The feature works, but it doesn’t handle it as well as other games that offer it do.
A practice that needs to end is splitting collections up like this, I would’ve thought a collection like this bundled together wouldn’t be too far off from the price of just one of these volumes. The whole value argument aside, it also feels like a grubby practice. Especially when there is no reason for this to be two seperate volumes besides greed. The hits and rarities feel purposely spread across each volume to get you on board for both collections. Even just for the sake of quick access to all of these games, having to change between the volumes is annoying.
The Namco Museum Archives Vol 1 and 2 are a decent trip down memory lane. The previously unlocalised games and rarities will entice retro game enthusiasts. A bunch of the classics are here, and some alright games too. Dividing the collection into two volumes only serves to squeeze a little extra money out of you for Famicom/NES versions of games. The 8-bit demakes of Pac-Man Championship Edition and Gaplus make great additions and show up the older games a little, but overall fit in amongst the bunch. If you want the original version of the classics then you’re better off with the older Namco Museum Collection, it’s really the rarities and previous Japan-only titles that make these volumes stand out.
+ The classics are there
+ Rarities and games previously unreleased in English for the collectors out there
+ Pac-Man Championship Edition and Gaplus demakes are a highlight of the collection
- The collection is split into two volumes unnecessarily
- A few clunkers across the volumes
- No extra history or art