Title: Namco Museum Archives Volume 1 and 2
Developer: B.B. Studio
Release Date: June 18, 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Genre: Arcade Collection
I’m no stranger to Namco Museum releases after playing their PlayStation iterations. The collection brings together games from our past and makes them easily accessible to play on console. In many ways, it speaks to the retro gamer looking to experience their childhood and rekindle those fleeting gaming memories. Surprisingly, the newest iteration, Namco Museum Archives Volume 1 and 2 only include a handful of titles that I recall growing up. However, what it adds is a host of other titles that I have never played, which made the collection a little more rendering, but not nearly as nostalgic.
In total, Namco Museum Archives Volume 1 and 2 has 11 accessible games on each volume. There isn’t a real theme for each collection, but I’d advise that if you’re thinking about purchasing these titles, you’d be better off picking them both up to get the full experience.
Namco Museum Archives Volume 1 features a few of my favorite games released in the arcade, many of which have stolen countless quarters from me. While I could spend hours playing Dig-Dug and Pac-Man for the thousandth time, I turned my focus to the more obscure titles. Games like The Tower of Druaga and Dragon Spirit: The New Legend were unique and just a few of the titles that I have never played. One surprise inclusion is Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti, which has not been available in the west on consoles until now.
The entire Volume 1 has a host of space and fantasy shooters and this is a reacquiring theme that appears in the second volume as well. Still, when it comes to the other genres available, I have never been a fan of Mappy or Spy Kid, which is just my personal preference. Each game in this first entry is good, but they do come with that retro learning curve where you will die multiple times as you figure out best practices and strategies. Furthermore, I must say that Pac-Man Championship Edition fully realized in 8-bit is a great inclusion amongst these old games. It stands out in the bunch and is just an incredible game.
Namco Museum Archives Volume 2 arguably has some of my favorite and least favorite Namco games available. Galaga is just an amazing shooter that I played with my dad growing up and each time I play it those fun memories return. Plus, you get a console version of Gaplus, which is the sequel to Galaga, but I felt like it was just more of the same at this point. However, the good times stop there since the rest of the collection doesn’t really hold up. Dig Dug II is simply not fun and I don’t know what Namco was thinking with Pac-Land.
Still, Legacy of Wizard was a surprise inclusion for me since I never played it growing up, but it was developed by Falcom. It’s a super weird action RPG that won’t make any sense the first time you play it. Still, after a few tries, you begin to understand its quirky adventure systems and how to get further in the dungeon. Then, if you really want to go into the early beginnings of a famous developer, Gam Freak’s Mendel Palace is in the collection. It’s basically a card flipping game that would never work if it released today, but I couldn’t stop playing it.
There’s definitely a variety of titles included in the museum release, but I think Bandai Namco’s exclusion of Pole Position and Ms. Pac-Man made it feel incomplete. Also, I wish they had a bit more fun with the main menu and allowed you to explore a 3D museum as in previous entries. Simply scrolling through the game titles didn’t really enhance the overall retro experience.
In terms of additional features, you can rewind and create multiple save states to allow you to get through these games easier. However, the rewind feature is extremely awkward. You pull up a menu and press a button to rewind, but it only goes back a second or two, you have to keep performing this action over and over until you get to a safe point of the game. I did notice, however, that this also affected the RNG of enemies in certain games, so this might have been the reason for this.
Other options allow you to alter the screen size and overlays to make the games look sharper or more in-line with CRT TVs. There’s also a lack of extra content for the games such as concept art or producer stories about development. This is just something that should be added to all of these collections because for the most part, retro players have seen and played many of these games before and this bit of extra goes a long way with digital game preservation.
Namco Museum Archives Volume 1 and 2 offers players a variety of games to play, and yet, most of them are space shooters. However, the games that the collections do contain provide both a sense of nostalgia and new memories as you are now able to play a few titles that weren’t available before. It does the minimum of what a collection should do, without including special concept art or an interactive museum setting. Still, it’s fun to be able to have easy access to these titles to play again or share with friends and family.
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