Namco Museum (Switch)

One of the best and most well-known arcade game makers of the 80’s and 90’s is Namco.  They’re responsible for classics like Pac-Man, Galaga, Dig Dug, and many more, and that’s one of the reasons why they’re my favorite video game company. I’m always excited when they come out with a new Namco Museum collection of old arcade games, and now there’s one on the Nintendo Switch you can download!

The games on the Switch version include Pac-Man, Galaga, Dig Dug, The Tower of Druaga, SkyKid, Rolling Thunder, Galaga ’88, Splatterhouse, Tank Force, Rolling Thunder 2, and Pac-Man Vs.  I’ll go through these games in more detail in my next blog coming later this week.

Each game comes with a slew of options you can toggle.  You can change the screen size and background, and even tilt the screen sideways like how many of these arcade games were back then, although you’d have to hold the Switch in handheld mode kind of funny if you do that.  There are tons of other options, too.  You can play each game in Normal or Challenge Modes.  In the Challenge Mode, you’ll have to perform certain tasks in the game within a time limit, like eat a bunch of ghosts in Pac-Man, or crush as many enemies with rocks as you can in Dig Dug.  High scores for both modes can be uploaded to a leaderboard, too.

This collection does have a few problems, though.  One of the big features of the Switch is that it has HD Rumble, and they use it extensively in this game, even though it isn’t necessary.  For instance, the controllers will shake violently when you gobble a power pellet and chomp ghosts in Pac-Man, which can get pretty annoying.  Luckily you can turn the rumble off in the options.  Another problem I had was that it’s slightly convoluted to play with others on Pac-Man Vs., which is one of this collection’s biggest draws.  Granted, it’s not as bad as on the GameCube, where you needed four GBAs and four link cables.  But the best way to play Pac-Man Vs. is still on the DS version of Namco Museum.

But the biggest problem I had was the price.  You get less than a dozen games, but it costs 30 dollars to download.  I’m glad they have a mix of common and obscure arcade classics, but where are favorites like Mappy, Pole Position, or even Ms. Pac-Man?  Namco Museum Virtual Arcade on the Xbox 360 had three times as many games, and I think it didn’t cost as much as this.  It’s still a good collection, it’s just the price of admission to this museum is a bit steep.  Again, be sure to check back later this week when I give a more detailed tour guide through the games of this museum.

Kid Factor:

Namco Museum is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Blood and Gore, Suggestive Themes, and Violence.  Most of the games on here are pretty safe for kids.  The primitive arcade graphics keep the violence from being too gory, but there are a few exceptions in some of the later titles.  Rolling Thunder and its sequel feature a sexy female spy, but the biggest culprit for the Teen rating here has to be Splatterhouse.  This game was a tribute to horror slasher movies, as you control a guy with a hockey mask fighting all sorts of monsters.  When you hit them, they’ll explode and splat in pixelated 16-bit glory.  It may look a bit cheesy now, but back then this was just as controversial as Mortal Kombat a few years later.  I imagine older kids would find this game rather hokey, but younger children may still be frightened by the spooky sounds and graphics in this game.

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