Namco Museum Megamix

Namco Museum MegamixThe Game: Join Pac-Man as he rolls around the carnival-like grounds of the Namco Museum. Six “remixed” games are featured: Buy this gameGalaga Remix, Rally-X Remix, Gator Panic Remix, Pac ‘n’ Roll, Pac-Motos, Grobda Remix – as well as a healthy selection of Namco arcade classics: Cutie Q, Galaxian, Pac-Man, King & Balloon, Rally-X, Galaga, Bosconian, Super Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Xevious, Grobda, Motos, New Rally-X, Dig Dug II, Pac-Mania, Gaplus, Pac & Pal and Mappy. None of the games are hidden away as “unlockables,” achievements or Easter eggs, and all can be enjoyed freely. (Namco, 2010)

Memories: A Wii exclusive, Namco Museum Megamix elicits both suspicion and joy from this reviewer. On the “suspicious” side of things, the Wii has already had Namco Museum Remix, which had five of the six “remixed” games listed above, and maybe half of the arcade games that appear in Megamix; even Megamix‘s manual seems to acknowledge that you’ve already been suckered into buying Remix and therefore you already know the control scheme for the selection menu (which is almost a game unto itself). But on the good side, for the first time in quite a while, Namco has finally acknowledged something else: the media on which Namco Museum Megamix arrives has a much greater capacity than the 74-meg Playstation CD-ROMs that carried the first iteration of Namco Museum in the 1990s. Let’s fill that open space with… more games!

Namco Museum MegamixNow, truth be told, they probably could’ve stuck many more games on Namco Museum Megamix than they did. There are frequent flyers from previous iterations of Namco Museum that are extremely conspicuous by their absence here: Ms. Pac-Man, Pole Position and Pole Position II, Tower Of Druaga and countless others seem like they should be here. Maybe it’s not so much of a case where the consumer isn’t getting screwed anymore – but one has to admit that we’re getting screwed less. Namco Museum Megamix‘s classic arcade is very well-stocked with timeless classics. It’s still the main attraction.

But some of the new games are pretty fun, too. In a way, Megamix is built around Pac ‘n’ Roll – once you can work your way through the “playable”/explorable main menu, you’ve got the basic game mechanics of Pac ‘n’ Roll down – it’s sort of like the love child of Pac-Man and Namco Museum MegamixKatamari Damacy (another timeless Namco classic – hey, where’s a Wii version of that?). Gator Panic Remix is a modern version of Whack-a-Mole and requires the most effort as far as kinetic motion goes. Rally-X Remix winds up being the most fun and the most faithful to its inspiration, even if controlling it isn’t the easiest prospect in the world. Galaga Remix is a point-at-the-screen-and-shoot blast-fest that reformats Galaga‘s swooping attack waves in 3-D, but also charges the player with protecting Pac-Man, who’s rolling along a chute on the bottom of the screen throughout the game. Pac-Motos is a bizarre combination of Pac ‘n’ Roll and the classic arcade game Motos, replacing the player’s vehicle with a rolling, ramming Pac-Man character. New Namco Museum Megamixto Megamix is Grobda Remix, a new version of Namco’s tank shooter which takes the original arcade game’s penchant for collateral damage to an almost ludicrous level (i.e. being near anything that’s blowing up will also cause the player’s tank to blow up).

It is possible to clear all of the dots on the main menu, though it takes a great deal of effort. I was hoping that perhaps the payoff would be the unlocking of more Namco arcade games or other minigames; it isn’t. After a couple of hours’ effort poured into “playing” the menu, the reward was to hear Pac-Man say “Yay!” To say that I was a little underwhelmed for the effort vs. the payoff would be putting it mildly.

Namco Museum Megamix4 quarters!Overall, Namco Museum Megamix is the best Namco Museum title since the PS1. There are some strange omissions from the roster, but those games are available elsewhere (Ms. Pac-Man, Pole Position and Pole Position II still work just fine on my PS1, and the “arrangement” games are still available on the PS2 Namco Museum). Long-standing issues with the games’ appearance have been solved at long last (c’mon, Pac-Man looked better on the GBA than it did on the PS2), and the Wii-specific “remix” games are a nice diversion. For the first time in quite a long while, I don’t feel ripped off from having spent money on a Namco Museum title.