There’s nothing quite like some retro gaming to really kickstart the successful launch of any system.
Yes, we’ve played Pac-Man and Galaga to death right about now, but that doesn’t change their timeless qualities as part of a larger package.
Namco Museum brings a fantastic 8 to 16 Bit library of games to Nintendo’s portable platform at a budget price tag. Like Nintendo themselves, Namco certainly haven’t been afraid to regularly cash in on the success of their games like Dig-Dug and Rolling Thunder, but this collection is not only polished and well ported, it has never felt more at home than on Switch.
While the games play perfectly well docked, it’s the ability to rotate the screen 90 degrees and play it like an old fashioned arcade machine with the one Joy-Con that oozes a level of charm no other platform can accomplish.
The ability to change games at a tap of a button also means the transitions between classics are seamless and instant.
Each game comes with its own challenge mode to test your skills and really add some longevity to the classics once you’ve played the same modes time after time. For instance, in Galaga, you have to try and rescue as many fighters as possible within a 3 minute time limit.
All games support HD Rumble, which makes for a nice addition as you’re playing along, but the game’s also have specific option sets which can make your experiences easier or harder, depending on your selection. For instance, you can choose your starting round, how many lives you want, the type of version you want to play, and in the case of Pac-Man, even turn off the classic Round 256 Bug which corrupts the right half of the screen in Maze 256.
The other neat feature is how much you can customise the display of each game. All have massive borders with the game screen centred, but the vertical position, as well as scanlines, zoom and fixed dot size can be adjusted however you see fit.
As mentioned, classics like Dig-Dug, Galaga, Pac-Man and Rolling Thunder are on here, but there are also a few surprise additions like the bloody beat-em-up Splatterhouse, Sky Kid and The Tower of Druaga.
The inclusion of some is a bit of a surprise, games like Rally-X, Pole Position, and Mr Driller might have seemed more appropriate or desirable, but the title range gives enough for players to get a true mix of vintage titles.
And the package still has its crown jewel in Pac-Man VS, a game that has only ever appeared on the Gamecube, while supporting the oft-forgotten and neglected GBA lead. The aim is to control up to three of the ghosts, with a fourth player controlling Pac-Man. Ghost players have to hunt Pac by giving each other clues as to his location and then it’s the first to grab him who gets the points. This can be played on one Switch, with nobody controlling Pac-Man, or across two – with another downloading the free demo of the game.
With not too many great multiplayer experiences on Switch like it, Pac-Man VS really stands alone for both quality and creativity.
At $30, it’s not going to be the right price for everybody, especially since some of the games certainly haven’t aged as well as others. That said, with established, classic IP at the heart of Namco Museum, all well ported and introduced to Nintendo’s newest baby, it’s difficult not to immediately fall in love and come away from this museum with a beaming smile on your face!
+ Excellent ports
+ Brilliant customisation for display
+ Pac Man VS
– Price may be a barrier
– A few odd game choices which could have been replaced with better ones
7.5 out of 10
Tested on Nintendo Switch