When you see a Namco Museum compilation, you likely assume that it's jam-packed with arcade classics yet these Archives contain nothing but NES games so grab a Crystal Pepsi and get ready for some 8-bit nostalgia.
When I first glanced at Namco Museum Archives Vol 1's game list, I was happy to see a couple of unfamiliar arcade titles and after booting it up, my expectations were completely shattered as I realised that it isn't a compilation of arcade games at all. After enjoying countless Namco Museum collections over the years, I haven't seen any that don't feature a single arcade game. With that being said, I'm actually delighted that these new Archives compilations focus primarily on Namco's 8-bit offerings. For a lot of gamers, these home versions of the arcade hits hold more nostalgia. Admittedly, they're definitely not as good as their arcade counterparts but they're close and certainly worth playing for any fan of classic games. Plus, if you're as big of a Namco fan as I am then you'll love the ability to play so much of their NES catalog in a convenient package. At the same time, you're sure to discover at least a few hidden gems along the way.
List of games in Namco Museum Archives Vol 1
- Dig Dug
- The Tower of Druaga
- Sky Kid
- Dragon Buster
- Dragon Spirit: The New Legend
- Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti
- Pac-Man Championship Edition
As you can see from the list of games, most included titles are merely home versions of arcade classics. The majority of these are faithful ports yet a couple had something lost in translation. For example, Dragon Buster is clunky and hard to control while The Tower of Druaga is simply not that fun. Their arcade versions don't fare much better but they're still less enjoyable on NES. Also, Xevious feels weird with its much wider 8-bit playfield. On the other hand, you have a game like Dragon Spirit: The New Legend which is a variation of the arcade classic that's built just for NES and it works out beautifully. Thankfully, the rest of the games are authentic and fun ports.
Arcade-at-home ports aside, Namco Museum Archives Vol 1 includes a couple of oddities. First, Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti is a Famicom exclusive and is basically a cute take on the gruesome arcade hit. I enjoyed playing it a lot and laughed out loud when the enemies suddenly started a little dance number. It's a fantastic gem of a game that's as charming as it is funny and if you're as old-school as I am, you're sure to notice plenty of goofy references throughout its strange campaign. Last but not least, there's Pac-Man Championship Edition but it's not what you'd expect as it's essentially an 8-bit demake of the contemporary classic. Although this sounds odd, it's actually a ton of fun and acts as a highly enjoyable arcade-like experience that's familiar yet fresh.
Namco Museum Archives Vol 1 boasts top-notch emulation which is great. On top of that, there are some welcome display options that allow you to zoom the display as well as toggle anti-aliasing and scan lines. There are a couple of modernizations, too, in the form of a rewind feature and save states although taking advantage of these makes me feel less immersed in the classic fun. I also wish there was some substantial museum-style content such as scans of the instruction manuals, etc. However, no such content is included.
Namco Museum Archives Vol 1 is a solid collection of NES gems. From faithful arcade-at-home ports to a couple of delightful out of the ordinary inclusions, you're bound to have a blast playing through these 8-bit classics.
- + Includes 10 Namco NES classics including a fun Famicom exclusive
- + 8-bit Pac-Man Championship Edition is great
- + Spot-on emulation and solid options
- - A few of the games haven't aged well
- - Lacks museum-style content
- - The arcade versions are better