The Game: Old games never die – they get emulated and encased in digital museums. Some game companies, like Namco, are big enough to spread their best titles out over five discs. With Pac-Man hanging around, you wander the corridors of the Namco Museum once more. (Namco, 1995)
Memories: Namco Museum 3, reprinted in the “greatest hits” range of Playstation games, contains some of the biggest coin-op successes to emerge from Japan’s video game supergiant – but this volume, also known early on as “Volume M,” also sees the beginning of the Namco Museum collection’s shift toward fighting and action-RPG-style games.
Ms. Pac-Man, Pole Position II and Dig Dug are probably the main reasons this volume has seen such wide distribution and a reprint run. The game emulations are good, but once again, I have to complain about the distracting border graphics on Ms. Pac-Man…couldn’t the game have been emulated more like Dig Dug, with the score display shifted to the side of the screen, and the maze given a larger portion of the total screen area? This problem also plagues Pac-Man on Volume 1, and I never quite figured out why these games – surely the best-remembered of any of the games on their respective volumes of Namco Museum – got this graphic treatment.
Volume 3 sees some major improvements in other areas, however. One can skip such sections as the miserably bitmapped 3-D “museum” and jump directly to such features as the jukebox (in which one can look at character graphics and listen to music and sound effects) and individual games. There are also drop-down menus in each emulation which allow for a quick and easy exit. These features – and, quite frankly, the ability to skip through most of the slow-loading museum scenes – make Volume 3 a large leap for the Namco Museum series.
One, however, should go through the various museum exhibits at least once, if only for the opportunity to see Dig Dug‘s Pookas dancing around to a hip-hop beat in a rock quarry (!), or Ms. Pac-Man and her Pac-Puppy dancing (and singing!) to a jaunty rendition of the music from her game’s second intermission scene. It’s all a bit surreal. The Galaxian room is actually pretty cool – as one floats toward the arcade cabinet in a corner of the room, a huge 3-D rendition of the player’s ship rises up on a launch pad in the background and undergoes a pre-flight check before blasting off!
Namco Museum 3 is still incredibly easy to find, and I can honestly give it a big thumbs-up. It’s a major improvement in Namco’s classic emulation series.