The Game: Old games never die – they get emulated. Fortunately, one of Japan’s greatest exporters of video game hits has built a museum around several of its most popular titles. With Pac-Man still underfoot, you wander the corridors of the Namco Museum yet again. (Namco, 1995)
Memories: The second volume (also known as Volume A) in Namco’s 5-disc collection of arcade emulations for the Playstation is the most difficult to find – one often sees it going for nearly twice its original retail price in eBay auctions – and yet it has some of Namco’s biggest “cult” hits… and yet only volumes 1 and 3 have been reprinted. Go figure.
Super Pac-Man, the oddball Pac-Man sequel, is the yellow one’s presence on Volume 2. Other well-known – though not mega-hit – games on Volume 2 include Mappy (the game with the bouncing police mouse), Xevious (which was, in all honesty, emulated much better on Namco’s own later Playstation release Xevious 3D/G+). Also included here is a Galaga sequel called Gaplus.
Gaplus is a damned difficult little game. It takes the basic premise of Galaga – wave after wave of alien attackers swooping into formation and then diving toward the bottom of the screen, raining lethal firepower down upon the hapless player. I like Xevious and Mappy just fine, but I spend most of my Volume 2 play time with Gaplus, simply trying to beat the bloody thing. I haven’t even gotten to the Challenging Stage yet. Oh, if only the dual analog joystick had been around back then…
Like Volume 1, Volume 2‘s “museum” is a slow-to-load, chunkily bitmapped 3-D environment with the same somnolent tune droning in the background. The “rooms” in which one can find the actual “machines” are a little more bizarre this time, particularly the Xevious room (what the…? I can’t even describe it!) and the Gaplus room, which seems to be enclosed in the alien boss ship’s capture beam.
I will give Namco a little bit of credit – the “exhibits” one sees en route to the actual games are a little more interesting. There’s more actual game artwork and memorabilia, though the bitmapped circuit boards still uselessly adorn the halls.
If you can get your hands on Volume 2 without spending a fortune, I can heartily recommend it, if only for the outstanding emulations of Mappy and Gaplus.