For a compilation celebrating an illustrious 50 years in existence, the Namco Museum 50th Anniversary Arcade Collection sure doesn’t seem to recognize the auspicious occasion with any of the jubilation you’d expect for such an important milestone. Following after the impressive Namco Museum Battle Collection for the PSP, this Anniversary Collection for the three current-gen consoles doesn’t even hold a candle to that version with its fewer games, no cool remakes and absolutely no bonus content or features, which makes me wonder if Namco accidentally mislabeled the two titles.
Featuring 16 (there are two bonus games not listed on the box) of Namco’s classic arcade titles from the late 70’s through the mid 80’s, Namco Museum 50th Anniversary Collection packs a lot of fun gameplay bang for the budget-priced buck. In this collection you get Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Galaga, Galaxian, Bosconian, Mappy, Rolling Thunder, Pole Position, Pole Position II, Rally X, Xevious, Sky Kid and Dragon Spirit, plus the bonus unlockable games of Galaga ’88 and Pac-Mania. All of these games play as well as you can expect in their emulation on the three current console controller types, and classic titles like Pac-Man, Galaga, Rolling Thunder and Dig Dug are still as entertaining to play as ever.
While the selection of games is the largest ever for a Namco Museum console outing (by four games), essentially every included game has made an appearance on previous installments to the Museum line, so there isn’t very much incentive to make you want to rush out and pick up a copy. I also find it odd that this important anniversary edition falls short of the Battle Collection‘s offering of 21 titles, what’s the story with that Namco?
What’s absolutely unforgivable here is the severely disappointing lack of any sort of unlockable content. Sure, there are the two bonus games to activate, but where on earth are goodies like artwork galleries, jukeboxes, interviews, commercials, developer bios and any other relevant historical content you’d think would come standard in commemorating such an incredible company milestone. It’s quite saddening to see that none of these bonuses are present in any way – you get the games and that’s it.
Even without the Museum-esque content, though, Namco Museum 50th Anniversary still delivers a decent shot of nostalgia, which is a must for any compilation. The turntable menu system of virtual arcade machines representing each of the 16 games in their original form is a very slick addition, and the technical presentation of the games has also been preserved with the utmost of care. Better yet, the classic 80’s soundtrack will definitely have you mentally revisiting the “old days” over and over again if you’re from that generation like I am. Even if you hate the music, there’s something about listening to “She Drives Me Crazy” that just makes you grin with nostalgia.
Unless you are the most diehard of Namco fans or an avid old-school game collector, there’s not much of a reason to even consider purchasing the Namco Museum 50th Anniversary Arcade Collection. The large selection of titles is a great value and they are all still plenty of fun to play, but the lack of bonus material is inexcusable, and when you consider that the majority of these games have been released in compilations from Namco before, the game’s content simply doesn’t live up to the celebratory billing.
If you’ve never owned any of the previous Namco Museums, this collection may be worth your time, but overall there’s not enough new or special about this collection worthy of the crowning company achievement it’s supposed to be recognizing.