I’m not sure what the technical definition of a museum is, (because you can rest assure I’m too lazy to reach up and open my dictionary), but it seems to me that it’s something that houses a collection of things that you can’t get your hands on without getting arrested by a guard that’s proud that he’s devoted his life to keeping a rusty, settlers’ kettle from the mitten-grabbing and finger-poking punks that frequent such a place of higher learning.
Namco Museum: 50th Anniversary should have confined this collection to museum status – as per my definition. These games should be kept out of the hands of youth so as not to show them how ignorant we were when we were young.
There’s nothing new here for anybody. The good games that are included have been available for years on various systems and in another Namco Museum collection that was released in 2001. The games in this version only date back 25 years. Where the hell does the 50-years come in? Am I to expect a few antique pinball machines delivered to my house by UPS?
Unlike other developers’ anthologies such as Atari and Midway, Namco doesn’t offer us any interviews, trivia or behind-the-scenes documentaries. I must admit that the ports are darn near perfect, certainly better than the 2001 versions. The sounds, colors, characters, backgrounds, intros and patterns have been replicated almost perfectly, as are the controls as long as you can overlook using the analog stick instead of a steering wheel.
Games include versions of Dig Dug, Galaga, Galaxian, Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Rally-X, Pole Position, Pole Position II, Bosconian, Xevious, Dragon Spirit, Rolling Thunder, Mappy, and Sky Kid. The entire collection is easy to learn and fun to play but the games lack depth and will always be considered a novelty. I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed Mappy – a game that I hated in the arcades when it was new. I guess I never gave it a chance because I hated that #$%&+!# name, but after half an hour I was bored and looking for something else to play.
To replicate the look of these games as they appeared in the arcades, they are presented in letterbox form which makes them appear longer as opposed to wider. It’s not Digital Eclipse’s fault that most of these games don’t stand the test of time but I give them credit for at least getting them right. It might have been tempting to “update” these classics but someone showed some professional restraint. The mechanics are solid with no slowdown, flicker or clipping. Alaising? Are you kidding me? That’s a given.
Maybe Namco is 50-years old, but they didn’t exist in my books until they released their first videogame here in North America some 25 years ago. These games have all had their 15-minutes of fame so you won’t be missing anything if you pass on this title. At least you won’t be missing twenty bucks.