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Namco Museum Virtual Arcade review

More than 30 historic arcade games and XBLA remakes, but with a couple sticky buttons

Pros

  • Pac-Man Championship
  • Galaga Legions
  • 34 games
  • Access to XBLA games
  • no online needed

Cons

  • Control limitations
  • Poor use of screen real estate
  • Many retread titles

Containing nine of publisher Namco Bandai%26rsquo;s Xbox LIVE Arcade releases and then tossing in 25 old-school arcade games, Namco Museum Virtual Arcade is a tremendous value %26ndash; IF you don%26rsquo;t have all this stuff already and you don%26rsquo;t mind a few rough edges. But as you might have noticed from the all-caps presentation, that%26rsquo;s a pretty big %26ldquo;if%26rdquo;.

The meat of this collection, which is $30 at post time, is the nine games already released on Xbox LIVE Arcade:

Dig Dug
Galaga
Galaga Legions
Mr. Driller Online
Ms. Pac-Man
New Rally X
Pac-man
Pac-Man: Championship Edition
Xevious

Our faves are the fantastic Pac-Man: CE, the vastly underappreciated Galaga Legions, and even Mr Driller Online - though its online performance, broken at launch, is still far from perfect. The remaining six XBLA games are largely unchanged from their arcade days, but considering they%26rsquo;re some of the most revered games in history, you might not mind so much.

What you will mind is the fact that the 360%26rsquo;s controller is terrible at handling any game that originally used a four-way joystick in the arcade. Yep; the controller many think is the best ever conceived rocks for cutting-edge fare such as Gears of War II, but fossils like Pac-everything and Dig Dug handle like crap. Consider the irony now, because you%26rsquo;ll be too aggravated to appreciate it when you%26rsquo;re actually dealing with it in-game.

Also notable is the strange way you play these nine offerings: You actually have to exit back into the Xbox menu system and select the game you want to play in the 360%26rsquo;s Arcade games menu %26hellip; strange.

However, these oddities don%26rsquo;t change the fact that, if for some reason you don%26rsquo;t have all the XBLA offerings and you definitely want them, buying this is a no-brainer. Buying them all separately would run you nearly $60 at post time, and this comes with another 25 games.

What are those 25 extras? Oh, we dunno. Maybe%26hellip;

Baraduke
Bosconian
Dig Dug II
Dig Dug Arrangement
Dragon Buster
Dragon Spirit
Galaga 88
Galaga Arrangement
Galaxian
Grobda
King %26amp; Balloon
Mappy
Metro-Cross
Motos
Pac %26amp; Pal
Pac-Man Arrangement
Pac-Mania
Pole Position
Pole Position II
Rally-X
Rolling Thunder
Sky Kid
Sky Kid Deluxe
Super Pac-Man
The Tower of Druaga

It%26rsquo;s a worthwhile stack, with three big caveats. First, if you%26rsquo;re into arcade compilations, you probably bought many of these already in a previous Namco collection, albeit on a different system. Even the %26ldquo;Arrange%26rdquo; versions, basically remakes with prettier graphics and tweaked difficulty, have been released before. Secondly, like we%26rsquo;ve already mentioned, some of these just don%26rsquo;t control well with the 360 pad.

Finally, you%26rsquo;ll often find more than half of the screen taken up by art, while the game happens in a smaller area in the center of the screen. The playable area of Grobda was literally only about one-fourth of the 36-inch screen we tested. We understand there are challenges on getting 25 year-old games to look good on modern HD sets, but there has to be a better solution than this.

These three concerns are the reason Namco Museum Virtual Arcade didn%26rsquo;t score as highly as we%26rsquo;d have liked. But don%26rsquo;t let that deter you from picking it up if you have an interest. For the right buyer, this is a gleaming golden treasure even with bits of tarnish here and there.

Dec 8, 2008

More Info

GenreOther Games/Compilations
Description

An admirable collection of arcade hits in their original forms, with souped-up modern reinventions originally on XBLA added in. But watch out for the screen size and wonky controls.

PlatformXbox 360
US censor ratingEveryone 10+
UK censor ratingRating Pending
Release date4 November 2008 (US), (UK)