No matter how much horsepower a console has you can guarantee on two things – somebody will release Tetris on it and Namco will bring out a collection of their ancient arcade hits. There are already been three Tetris games on Xbox 360 – Tetris Plus, Tetris Splash and Tetris Evolution – so if my assumption is to go by then Namco Museum Virtual Arcade is long overdue.
This is a very peculiar collection and for a good number of reasons. Fore mostly it’s the first Xbox 360 game to have a total of 1800 GamerPoints straight out of the box, with reason being that in addition to 25 arcade games there’s nine Xbox Live Arcade games present each with 200 points a piece. Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, New Rally X, Xevious and Dig Dug are just simple arcade ports while Pac-Man: CE, Galaga Legions and Mr. Driller Online are jazzed up re-makes.
Pac-Man: CE is feverishly addictive, Galaga Legions is both stylish and challenging while Mr. Driller Online has a new quest mode to play through. Like the Mr. Driller games before it though there isn’t a great deal to it other than holding the D-pad down and hammering the A button.
The ‘museum’ part of the title suggests that there will be plenty of retro goodies to look through such as cabinet art, posters and developer interviews but that sadly isn’t the case. Load up the disk and you’re merely presented with two functionary menus that split the arcade games up from the XBLA releases. After playing one of the XBLA games you’re thrown back to the dashboard and have to load up the menus again, which is a bit odd.
Another odd thing: of the 34 games on offer seven of them are Pac-Man related. They aren’t even all good Pac-Man games either – Pac & Pal and Super Pac-Man flopped in the arcade due to messing around with the formula too much while the isometric view in Pac-Mania makes it hard to see what’s ahead. A ghost, usually. They’ve left out Pac-Land too, which deserves a bigger footnote in the pages of history seeing that it was the one of the first side- scrolling platformers, beating even the first Mario Bros. out of the door.
Fortunately some of the other arcade games are still worth a punt. Rolling Thunder, Mappy, Retro Cross and Galaga 88 hold up well and I also developed a soft spot for Rally X and Xevious. The wonderfully garish Rally X plays a bit like Pac-Man but only in a larger maze while Xevious has the qualities that are still found in 2D shooters released in this day and age. Namco have included three arrangement games from their PSP retro collection too, which look quite nice but are a bit slow and sluggish to play.
With Pac-Man: CE and Galaga Legions shining bright and a wealth of easy achievements to unlock this isn’t a complete disaster, especially when you consider that you can pick this up for twenty quid. Shame on Namco though for scrimping on the presentation. They should have looked at the superior Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection for inspiration.