Review by superbobhead
New console, new Namco Museum
Namco Museum on the Switch is the most recent incarnation of a series that has been running since the Playstation era. For $30 at the time of this review, you get 10 classic Namco arcade games (ranging from 1980-1991) and the highly regarded 4 player Pac Man Versus (released in 2003) in one game. While not as jam-packed as some of the previous versions of Namco Museum, this is still a great collection for some great authentic arcade action on the go, for those who are fans of the majority of titles featured, or for anyone that is in the mood for some classic leaderboard/high score chasing.
Selecting from your list of games is simply done by moving left or right to cycle through the available titles. Once you're on one, you can view the global leaderboards or filter it for each title and see where you stack up with the rest of the world. Each game also features its own profile specific leaderboard, so if you want to track your own progress, that's always there and hard saved to the system. You also have the ability to rotate the console to support a more authentic resolution, which you can make manual adjustments to via the start menu for each game if you wish to try to override the aspect ratio. Be aware that by rotating the game, your controls do not flip, so you are going to have to detach your joycons or rotate your television to make the most of this feature.
Each game also has its own game-specific options, which can allow you to adjust all sorts of aspects of gameplay, but some will warn you that you will be excluded from online leaderboards by changing. On the topic of options available for each title, if just having these games on the go in their normal form isn't enough for you, there is a challenge mode for each title with its own separate leaderboard. Some of these can range from simply getting a high score on the last level of a game, to trying to rescue as many ships as you can in Galaga with a 3 minute time limit. While these challenge modes aren't going to be a main draw for anyone, they are a neat addition.
One of the features I really enjoy about the game but wish was a bit more fully featured is that each game includes its own manual. For most games, you can probably figure out how to play them on your own, but they also throw in some tips for each title on how to get a higher score, and The Tower of Druaga goes so far as to include a full hint system to explain how to find all of the treasures hidden on each floor to finish the game, provided you can make it that far. My complaint is that I wish for the price, the game included some interviews, scans of arcade flyers, or even history of the games. I am assuming most people aren't going to care and just want to play the game, but bonuses like that are what make certain collections a bit more appealing than others to me.
I've always felt a bit worried about how retro games would control with the joycons considering there is no traditional dpad, but everything feels fantastic. You can use the analog stick for movement, but because of the smaller range of movement, it's not going to be quit e the same as using an actual arcade stick. Another one of the big surprises is just how good the HD Rumble feels in these games. Everything from the feeling of picking up a power pellet in Pac Man, the different feel of each gun in Rolling Thunder 2, to the satisfaction of hitting an enemy with a weapon in Splatterhouse, Namco Museum is somehow one of the better showcases for HD Rumble.
Overall, I think this game is definitely worth at least checking out, because I feel like there's something here for pretty much everyone. If you aren't a fan of classic games like Pac Man or Galaga, or don't get the appeal of Tower of Druaga, you still have Rolling Thunder 1 and 2, Splatterhouse, and you can probably find another title on here to please you. Unfortunately I don't know anyone else that has a switch, so I haven't had the chance to try out Pac Man Vs, but I hear nothing but great things about it. While there are some notable exceptions, this is still a great package with plenty of features and worth a spot in most Switch owners' libraries..
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: Namco Museum (US, 07/28/17)
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