|System: PS3 (PSN)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Namco Bandai||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Namco Bandai||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jul. 16, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Jonathan Marx
Namco Museum Essentials brings together five classic arcade titles and remakes one of them with quality HD visuals for the PS3. While we love all these games and are glad to have them in our PS3 hard drive, we're not sure this game is as essential as the title seems to suggest. Effectively, what gamers get with this download are four shooters (three of which feature little more than cosmetic changes), Pac-Man, and Dig Dug. Still, for only $9.99, old-school gaming aficionados will get their money's worth.
The games included in this compilation are Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Xevious, Dragon Spirit, Galaga, and the remake of Xevious: Xevious Resurrection. Without a doubt, Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Xevious, and Galaga are titles all gamers can agree are of the highest quality. That being said, these games have re-released countless times for home consoles over the last couple of decades. As such, they've lost some of their luster, if not their cachet. For those of you who haven't played these games before, you probably just learned how to read. For everyone else, gameplay is exactly what you've grown up with, as the code has been ripped directly from the arcade and has been ported to the PS3. That being said, I did experience a glitch while playing Pac-Man that I never have experienced in my 30+ years: I floated through a ghost unscathed whilst cornered in a phantasm sandwich. While this only happened once during testing, it hints at possible stability issues.
While Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Xevious, and Galaga are games nearly every gamer knows inside and out, there are two other games included in this compilation that are fresh. I'm fairly confident in stating that the vast majority of players have likely never played Dragon Spirit. This game has players take on the role of a knight that can transmute himself into a dragon. Flying through vertical levels, Dragon Spirit is a shooter that does little to improve the genre's conventions. Players have a couple different breath-weapon attacks and can also drop fiery bombs which I can only assume is dragon scat. In this way, players advance through zones, blasting all enemies in their path. Despite being a decidedly unoriginal concept, Dragon Spirit does what it sets out to competently. However, at least for me, it didn't have the nostalgia attached to it that the other four classic titles have - and it therefore won't likely get much play time in my living room.
Players will also be treated to a remade Xevious. Xevious Resurrection captures everything you love about the original space shooter and gives it a 1080p facelift. Additionally, new enemies and a regenerating shield system have been added to make the make the game feel fresh. While I really enjoyed the stunning new presentation, I didn't find gameplay to be substantially better than what is on offer in the original title. After all, Resurrection is little more than a pretty new face - it is a remake of the original game rather than a full-fledged sequel. I would have liked to have seen a completely new entry developed for this release. Nevertheless, the retro-shooter gameplay mixed with the HD polish makes this a solid entry in the compilation.
Menu presentation and navigation in Essentials is top-notch. Additionally, players have a host of options - such as BGM variety - that are nice touches if not completely necessary. Along that same line, players can also open up in-game trophies called NM Stamps. These stamps track your progress and achievements throughout the games. While these aren't really enough to keep you playing, I suppose it's rewarding, nonetheless.