NAMCO MUSEUM ON NINTENDO SWITCH
The concept of bringing old school Namco games to newer platforms isn’t exactly a new concept. Since Namco Museum Volume 1 for PlayStation released back in 1996, there have been dozens of iterations of the Namco compilations spanning Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo platforms. This time around, a collection of classic Namco arcade games have made their way to the latest Nintendo platform the Switch. So the question we should be asking is, how does playing these games with the unique capabilities of the Nintendo Switch make them better?
For this collection, the games included are Pac-Man, Galaga, Dig Dug, The Tower of Druaga, Sky Kid, Rolling Thunder, Rolling Thunder 2, Splatterhouse, Tank Force, Galaga ’88, and Pac-Man Vs. Both a normal and challenge mode are available for all games, with the option to display your scores online also available. Instead of just being more difficult, challenge mode actually gives you a series of challenges to complete for each game within certain amounts of time. The games, especially in the home screen, are presented in a fresh and colorful way, as you hover over each title game art shows up and music plays as if you are about to begin a game on an arcade cabinet back in the day.
Although no game is labeled as single player, a majority of the titles simply include the functionality to alternate between players after every lost life. You can sync two controllers (including both Joy-Cons) at the beginning of each game, and every time someone dies the other controller becomes active and available for play.
These games are labeled as 1-(2) players, but the inclusion of multiple controllers for switching between lives is a sort of useless addition, as the players could simply swap the sole controller between themselves in real life. The only games that included true multiplayer functionality, just as they do in their original releases, were Sky Kid, Rolling Thunder 2, Tank Force, and Pac-Man Vs. The first three all had simultaneous play with two players, while Pac-Man Vs. offers 1-4 multiplayer with a few different options for how to set it up.
Pac-Man Vs. is arguably the most fun and worthwhile inclusion to this collection. If you only have one Switch console available, up to three players work together to trap and target Pac-Man before he is able to gobble up all the dots. Whoever is able to take down Pac-Man the most before a certain cap score will take the win. However with one Switch no one is able to play as Pac-Man himself and he is controlled by a computer while the 1-3 player(s) control the ghosts.
If two Switches are being used, then one person (on one console) controls Pac-Man while the other three (on a separate console) search to trap him. You compete for points for local communication, and a nice touch was added to allow for the multi-Switch play with a free digital code for download that gives you access to the multiplayer of Pac-Man Vs. if a friend already owns a copy of Namco Museum. Meaning you don’t have to purchase the full game on two different Switch systems to get the most out of Pac-Man Vs.’s multiplayer.
Players also have the option to rotate the screen 90 degrees so the games appear more like they did back in the day in their original vertical arcade cabinets. In order to utilize in in portable mode you would have to disconnect both Joy-Cons, since the Switch will not automatically recognize that the bottom Joy-Con is the only one being used while in this format. Once they are both disconnected, you have the fun time of finding a way to prop it up so you can play with them separated, but this isn’t always possible while on the go. It would have made a lot more sense for the game to recognize that while rotated only the left Joy-Con was in use, so the button configuration was adjusted in order to accommodate. Namco Museum also lacked a direct button leading you back to the main menu, meaning you had to go through the options menu to switch a game or load the menu. These issues are very small but their addition would have made navigating the game’s menu and utilizing its options just a bit easier.
That being said, if you enjoy classic 80s and 90s Namco arcade games and are looking for more titles to fill out your Switch library, Namco Museum is an easy purchase. Despite $30 being an expensive price tag, the games included in this collection are worth your while with Pac-Man Vs. taking the collection over the top. The games play well on the Switch, look great, and even after sitting down to play through them all, having games like Rolling Thunder, Pac-Man, or Dig Dug in your back pocket for a quick game is a nice feeling. With the appeal of bringing past classics to the portable qualities of the Switch, it’s likely we will be seeing more iterations of Namco Museum on Nintendo’s newest console in the future.
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Score: 3.5/5 – FAIR