Some games and experiences are timeless, which is why a select handful of games remain timeless even 20+ years after release. Among the most notable are things Namco released, which includes titles like Pac-Man and Dig Dug, which has stood the test of time. Despite releasing several times in the past, Namco Museum Archives Vol 1 includes a bunch of beloved games and forgotten adventures. With so much content, is it a must for retro fans or a fancy way to charge more for a couple of good games?
For the most part, I’d describe Namco Museum Archives Vol 1 as a safe release. It includes classics like Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Galaxian and supplements them with games many have probably never played like the Japan-exclusive Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti or Dragon Buster. Choices like this add a lot of value to the collection since you can experience new things, without much of a risk.
It goes without saying Pac-Man and Dig Dug provide the same timeless experience they have in any number of the other ports we’ve seen over the years. And, as a result, I really don’t need to explain why eating pallets and dealing with ghosts or digging around and popping hostile enemies is worth the money. Instead, the focus is really on how these offer a different experience and unique titles.
First and foremost, Namco Museum Archives Vol 1 is less about simply offering these games and more about offering a fun experience. Not only can you save or load from any given point, but there is also a helpful rewind feature that lets you pretty much overcome any shortcoming you might face. I don’t need to worry about expertly navigating a title or worrying about every mistake, as you can simply take it back or set save points to practice tough sections or your favorite parts. Some might view this as cheating, which is certainly understandable, but it’s a great way to make the older experience more accessible to those that might want to experience them but not invest the time needed to master them.
In addition to that, games like Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti is actually quite fun. Once you move past the super-deformed look, if that is a problem for you, it’s a charming game that features a lot of interesting elements. Bosses have a fair amount of flare, whether it’s fighting a dancing vampire or possessed doll and tight enough controls to be fun. Out of all the titles, it’s probably one of the more fun, even if the Japanese titles might discourage players from checking it out.
On the opposite end is Dragon Buster. It might look pretty, for the time anyway, it has extremely stiff controls and comically dated animations. As a result, it can be hard to play, especially given current standards. Add in some rough controls and it isn’t at the same level as many of the other games offered in this collection.
To break things up, Dragon Spirit is a hectic but manageable vertical-scrolling shooter that is a lot of fun, if only for the widely different enemies. Given the rather simplistic nature of the game, everything comes down to avoiding or shooting enemies in the air or on the ground and offers enough challenge to be fun. That said, don’t be surprised if later levels offer a bit more challenge but you have the tools to succeed, either through repeated attempts or the rewind function.
Despite there being a lot of advantages to this collection and only a few lackluster titles, there are a lot of direct ports. Graphical glitches are common and some of the original quirks persist. This is more annoying than problematic but something a lot of fans would likely want to know before experiencing it.
Namco Museum Archives Vol 1 Verdict
For the most part, you’re getting 11 games in Namco Museum Archives Vol 1, at least three of which are classics, fewer lesser-known ones, and at least one you’ve probably never played for one low price. This makes it easy to recommend, as classics like Pac-Man are likely to be a hit regardless. As long as you understand these titles aren’t perfect and enjoy classic shooters, arcade-style games, and silly hack and slash titles, you’ll probably get your money’s worth.
[Editor’s Note: Namco Museum Archives Vol 1 was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]