After a decent debut, the second Namco Museum manages to top its predecessor. Featuring a slightly newer and more unorthodox library, Namco Museum Vol. 2 definitely delivers the goods. What I want to know is; do you have enough quarters left?
Automatically scrolling shooters don't get much more retro than Xevious. Piloting the Solvalou while shooting at airborne foes and dropping bombs on ground targets is just as exhilarating now as it was over thirty years ago. This is one of my favourite shoot 'em ups ever created and it surprises me every time I play it by how much fun it still is. The only problem with it is the constantly looping repetitive music. You might want to listen to your iPod when you play since it'll probably make it a lot more enjoyable. If you want more Xevious, be sure to pick up or download a copy of Xevious 3D/G+.
As a sequel to Galaga, you know that Gaplus has some solid frenzied shooting gameplay. The most notable improvement is that you can now move vertically. If you love Galaga then this fast-paced sequel with new controls and mechanics will surely fulfill your need for more alien-shooting mayhem. That being said, considering this came out three years after Galaga, it sure hasn't changed as much as you would expect.
Super Pac-Man (1982)
Although the Japanese version of Namco Museum Vol. 2 came with Bomb Bee and Cutie Q (two pinball/Breakout hybrid games), we got Super Pac-Man in the west. As the third Pac-Man game, it really is a strange experience. Instead of just gobbling up dots and avoiding ghosts, you'll find yourself collecting keys that open passageways, eating more fresh produce than Jack LaLanne, and growing into a giant so you can pass through ghosts and tear through walls like the Kool-Aid Man. This overly complicated formula means that Super Pac-Man simply doesn't live up to its predecessors. However, it can be enjoyable once you get in the groove.
Here's a highly underrated arcade gem. Mappy puts you in the shoes of your average policemouse who must retrieve stolen goods from those pesky no-goodnik cats. What makes it such a great game is its simple yet chaotic gameplay. You run left and right through scrolling multi-layered stages while jumping on trampolines, collecting loot, avoiding cats, strategically opening doors to knock cats down, and popping balloons in bonus rounds. One aspect that makes it especially addicting is the scoring system. If you manage to collect goods in pairs then your multiplier increases. Therefore, if you collect all of the goods in order of ascending worth in pairs then you get a ton of points. Just typing this is making me want to take a break and keep playing.
Grobda is a spin-off of Xevious where you play as an enemy. It appears as if it's your average retro arena combat game and for the most part, it is. Where Grobda sets itself apart is its use of blast radius. Upon destroying an enemy tank, it explodes and any other tank touched by the resulting blast also explodes. This includes you, so it's best to stay far away from your opponents. It can be a downright frustrating game because you can lose within seconds of a round starting. Fortunately, you have a shield that you can deploy to help with that. In the end, I can't imagine many gamers embracing these short-lived battles as much as other Namco classics.
Dragon Buster (1985)
When it comes to action RPGs, Dragon Buster is a classic. You travel through side-scrolling dungeons while swinging your sword and using magic spells to attack the many enemies and bosses that wait for your arrival. It's also known as the first game to utilize the double jump mechanic. Being able to make decisions where to go next at the world map's branching paths is another well implemented element. Overall, it's a very solid game that's still fun to play in this day and age.
Namco Museum Vol. 2 offers a wide array of classic and obscure titles; most of which are very entertaining. If you like shooting, platforming, and dungeon action then you'll find plenty to love here. I wonder if volume 3 can outdo this collection...
- + Xevious and Gaplus are two of the best examples of classic arcade shooters
- + Mappy has incredibly addicting gameplay
- + Dragon Buster is a nifty early action RPG
- - Super Pac-Man is overly complex
- - Grobda has limited appeal with frustrating gameplay and short battles