Namco Museum 50th Anniversary (GameCube) Review

By Adam Riley 17.07.2006 8

We all like to play the odd little retro title every now-and-then, but what about being handed a large collection of the old-school titles? Does the appeal begin to wear thin after watching all the basic graphics and listening to the simple music? Namco certainly hopes not, as it has bundle fourteen classics into on big package for its 50th Anniversary! Let us see just what is on offer...

Reviewing collections such as this one can be a real pain in the backside, because it is very easy to just say – terrible visuals, woeful audio and effects, plus overly simply gameplay all results in a tiresome package that really is a waste of money. However, that would be terrible review technique, so it is only fair to break down each game as they come and then weigh the positives and the stinkers up to see exactly how much worth this anniversary collection has.

First of all, here is a quick rundown of what is included from the very start: Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga, Galaxian, Dig Dug, Pole Position, Pole Position II, Rolling Thunder, Rally X, Bosconian, Dragon Spirit, Sky Kid, Xevious and Mappy. It certainly seems liked a very varied selection! But looking at each of them a little closer, what you will notice is how in all honesty many are basically duplicates of others, possibly with an extra bit of colour or a little tweak here and there, but in essence barely indistinguishable. But who are we to spoil Namco’s 50 year anniversary celebrations? Well, at least let us stuff our faces with some other the free cake before kicking over the table and storming off in a huff…

Screenshot for Namco Museum 50th Anniversary on GameCube

It starts with a strange virtual arcade set-up. It is described as a ‘brand new retro-cool interface – explore a virtual arcade!’ Well, it is indeed a line-up of old arcade machines, but is just like scrolling through a normal menu. Hardly inspirational…The front end visuals are pretty average as well, with no real punch to them at all. If it was purposeful to not detract from the arcade games, then fair enough, but it just looks like a lazy set-up. Then there is the soundtrack that plays in the background. Apparently it is ‘a cool 80s soundtrack that takes you back to glory days of arcade gaming’. However, I am pretty sure that She Drives Me Crazy by the Fine Young Cannibals was actually early 1990s (*checks* no, wait, it IS actually from 1989, so just scrapes in!). The sad thing as well is that you cannot choose what song you want to hear, nor can you turn off the songs altogether if they are annoying you. Oh, and to be honest, they ruin the experience considerably, because every time you exit to the main menu screen, there is a LONG loading screen as the game readies another song. This can be highly frustrating when all you want to do is quickly jump to another game. A major oversight, definitely. As for the songs themselves, if you like groups such as Dexy’s Midnight Runners and Loverboy, then perhaps you will be more forgiving than I am.

Screenshot for Namco Museum 50th Anniversary on GameCube

Anyway, here is a quick overview of each game included in the package, in chronological order:

  • Galaxian – This is the precursor to the wonderful Galaga. Whilst this alien space shooting game may have been cutting edge at the time, once you have played the wonder of Galaga this will feel ridiculously slow and unresponsive. A real chore to play through…

  • Pac-Man – We all know Pac-Man by now, since it is indeed the most popular arcade game of all time. You lead the little yellow ‘thing’ through various mazes, making sure to avoid the four pesky ghosts floating around as well. Grab all the pellets to complete a stage, fruit to up your score even more and special power pellets to turn the tables on the ghosts and munch them down.

  • Rally-X – Surprisingly, and quite pleasingly, Namco took the Pac-Man template and overlaid a rally racing theme to create Rally-X. The game is played from an overhead viewpoint as you start out with your racing car just ahead of your opponents. The aim is to drive around, checking the right-side map to locate all the flags dotted about the arena, whilst avoiding the chasing vehicles (just like the ghosts chase Pac-Man). Thankfully your racer does not grow a mouth a start eating the opponents, but instead can shooting smoke from its exhaust to slow them down. Very simple, but again it is another addictive inclusion.

  • Ms. Pac-Man – This is basically the exact same game as the original Pac-Man. However, the protagonist is a female Pac-Man, complete with stylish pink bow (ahem), different fruit to collect and the game seems slightly simpler as well as faster.

  • Galaga – People must have enjoyed Galaxian, but this updated version blows it out of the water. Your spaceship is locked at the bottom of the screen and can only move from left-to-right and back again as alien pour down from the top of the screen and charge in from each side in various formations, before lining up at the top of the screen in a Space Invaders style and then methodically peeling off to charge at you, whilst firing like crazy. This is by far my personal favourite of the whole package and even my wife has been glued to the screen playing it…which shows how strong its appeal really is (since she is NOT a game fan normally). The tension felt during this is unmatched anywhere else in the collection. A true gem!

  • Bosconian – Ever played Sinistar? If so, then you know exactly what you are getting with Bosconian. Your space-craft can spin around and travel in any direction, shooting forwards and backwards at the many asteroids, alien craft and space-stations you come across. It becomes very frantic extremely quickly, but it proves to be a lot of fun, despite the controls being a bit too loose at times.

  • Dig Dug – Ah, the wonder of Dig Dug, with its classic addictive gameplay. Your little character is equipped with a shovel and an extendable pump and your job is to dig through the ground and navigate towards the various enemies lurking around, using the pump to make them explode, or luring them closer to rocks, digging under them and letting the heavy boulders squash them! So much fun, but brutally tough at times.

  • Pole Position – The classic racing game, which puts you in the seat of an F1 racing car, as you zoom around the basic looking tracks in an effort to beat the timer, whilst avoid the other vehicles on the track, plus various hazards. The control is surprisingly tight, definitely proving to be inspirational for its time and it is clear how this has influenced racers today. Just make sure you do not explode!

  • Xevious – Gamers should know Xevious either from being included as a bonus game in Starfox Assault or being released under the NES Classics brand on the GBA. This classic 1982 flight title places you in charge of a fighter plane as it flies vertically, facing not only other airborne craft, but having to drop bombs on enemy bases on the ground that are busy trying to shoot you down. Being able to move your craft all around the screen, rather than just left and right as in Galaga is refreshing, but can lead to foolish mistakes being made as you forget about the last few bullets flying upwards towards you time and time again…

Screenshot for Namco Museum 50th Anniversary on GameCube

  • Mappy – This was the second of Namco’s games to be immortalised in the Famicom Mini series on the Game Boy Advance, but never made it to the West for the NES Classics line-up. You are Mappy, a little police-mouse (yes…you read that right) that wanders around a cat house trying to collect various valuable objects. It may sound too simple and boring, but you can only climb to different floors by using trampolines dotted around and have to beware as there are feline foes chasing you all the time (trying to despatch them by closing doors in their faces). It really is such a laugh, but not so funny when the one crafty pussy hides behind an open door and pounces to take your final life away…

  • Pole Position II – Just as Ms. Pac-Man was quite a cheap way of squeezing more money out of people despite being basically the same title, Pole Position II is only different to its predecessor in that it has four new race tracks – Fuji, Test, Suzuka and Seaside. It is still as wonderful a game as the original, but you cannot help but feel it could have been changed more significantly if Namco had wanted to.

  • Sky Kid – This is an awkward little game where you take control of a bi-plane, take off into the sky and must dodge or shoot down any enemies flying towards you with your machine gun. Should you want to blast at one just passed, simply do a loop to grab it quickly, or simply use this manoeuvre to avoid tricky encounters. Once past most enemies, the game becomes trickier as you must carefully navigate down to pick up bombs to drop on specific buildings, before finally having to gently land the plane on a short runway. It can be agonisingly tough, but is surprisingly quite fun.

  • Dragon Spirit – Here you must take control of a powerful dragon as it traverses the skies, harnessing spells, dropping bombs and breathing fire at the onslaught of enemies. Basically what you have is Xevious with a dragon instead and lots of countryside, mythical-style backdrops. It really is fun, but smacks once again of being a cheap update, especially as it came a whole five years after Xevious.

  • Rolling Thunder – Despite this being the youngest game in the package, it does not necessarily mean it is the most advanced in terms of gameplay. It is a side-scrolling fighting game, except rather than using your fists like in Double Dragon or Final Fight, you control the on-screen secret agent, codenamed Albatross, as he wanders around shooting a weapon at the various on-coming enemies. Perhaps ot is my general dislike for this style of game, but it feels very clunky, tricky to control smoothly and really gives a feeling of not being polished enough.
  • Considering Nintendo had the gall to release games like this separately for about £14.99 each only recently on the Game Boy Advance, the fact that Namco has kindly bundled not only fourteen classic titles, but two bonus games (Galaga ’88 and Pac-Mania) into one £19.99 package is a very pleasing one. Okay, so many of the games are basically re-hashes of their predecessors, but since the original games were so damn addictive to start with, any changes or updates simply add to the experience. The graphics may seem awful by today’s standards and the music / sound effects can be quite atrocious at points, but to think like that would be unfair, as the point is not to have re-made games, just a nice fun bundle. The only major disappointment is that for a 50th Anniversary package, you would have thought Namco would include various other extras to celebrate the event. But other than the two bonus games and cheesy 80s music, nothing was put in.

    Screenshot for Namco Museum 50th Anniversary on GameCube

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Can this collection be recommended to gamers everywhere? Definitely not. If you like retro games and have a great sense of nostalgia, then dig around and find a cheap copy to fulfil your needs. It is not the best collection out there, but Namco really does have some classic games in its repertoire!

Developer

Namco

Publisher

EA

Genre

Action

Players

2

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

"Cons

Long loading time to get to the main menu"

No change from the PS Namco Museum Vol 1 days then!!

:-o

Drove me crazy...but the games in the package are still cool :Smilie

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

when did this game come out!?!?

7 Score i reckon its a bit high i would give it 6 or 6.5 :P

I see all these people insulting the Nintendo corporation because of the lack of mature content. Yet there is something about Nintendo (at least their games) that strikes a certain unadulterated feeling of joy!!!  Pokemon Y - 1048-9263-5562

This game only came out a few weeks ago in Europe...It popped into the GC Top 20 at something like No.11, then disappeared again forever.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

"...games in the package are still cool"

Definitely, though "New Rally X" wouldn't have gone amiss.

I'm thinking that Namco did 'Museum', with four games, this Anniversary package with 16 classics in total (incl. those two hidden ones) and will soon do a re-vamped classics collection.

Just seems like the natural progression. An updated Galaga, Xevious and Rally X would indeed be great!

Mean Machine, this got 7 because it's one of the best collection packages I've played this generation. Midway's ones would have got 8 in my book...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

is this the same one as the PS2 though? thats why i said 6!

I see all these people insulting the Nintendo corporation because of the lack of mature content. Yet there is something about Nintendo (at least their games) that strikes a certain unadulterated feeling of joy!!!  Pokemon Y - 1048-9263-5562

The XBOX, PS2 and GameCube versions are the same. The GBA one only has four games. I don't really see what could have been added to the GC version that couldn't have been added to the XBOX and/or PS2...

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

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