Namco Museum Review (DS)

You know that feeling where you just want to be a cynic, you want to look at the negative side of things but something just wonít let you? Itís like secretly enjoying one of those cheesy, British romantic comedies that make an appearance once a year, every year, without fail. If one of your friends asks if you enjoyed it, youíll casually laugh and say itís formulaic, youíve seen over a hundred of the same type of film before, it offers nothing new, relies on obvious gags and predictable situations that quite simply, in the year 2008, you are more than just tired of. Well thatís what you tell your friends and pretty much anyone who asks you.

Blocky graphics and simple controls: everything a growing boy needs!
Mappy is a classic platformer that will have you pulling your hair out in no time! In a good way though.

Underneath it all though, whilst you were watching that film that probably starred Kate Winslet and Hugh Grant, you actually enjoyed it. You wanted to hate it. There was so much in there to hate. But after you forgave the formulae and the laziness you actually settled down and enjoyed the experience, their charm, their familiarity, it all just clicked and yes, you were sucked and you liked it Ė although you might have actually hated yourself for doing so not remains an aside.

Namco Museum DS is this fictive British ĎRom-Comí Iíve been referring to. I mean, do the names Pac-Man, Pac-Man VS., Mappy, Dig Dug II, The Tower of Druaga, Xevious and Super Xevious get you excited al all? Twenty five years ago perhaps but how many times have you played these titles throughout one life span? Ask yourself, can you really be bothered to play the damn things all over again? Thereís nothing new, no makeovers, added levels, 3D sound, nothing. Theyíre exactly as you would have played eight hundred and twenty four times within the last fifteen years.

Every time I pick it up and play it and berate myself for playing into the hands of the enemy. I shouldnít be giving Namco the satisfaction of sitting on the bus playing their game as they are charging me full price for straight ports of games Iíve played a million times before. I should be leaving it on the shelf of hate along with Four Weddings and a Funeral in my front room and tell all my friends just much stuff like this doesnít do anything for the future of gaming and how we, the consumer, should take a stand against this kind of thing etc.

I canít do that however. The thing is, I actually really enjoyed it. I played Pac Man Vs. with some friends and much hilarity ensued as they tried to avoid my sneaky use of the tunnels at the side of the one billion levels on offer in order to ensnare my prey. It all works seamlessly over Wi-Fi of course. Galaga is also one of my favourite games of all time. I even invested in the utterly rubbish Xbox Live Arcade version so Namco had me at hello with that one. I used to play Galaxian on the BBC B Computer back in the mid to early eighties and although I have played it again since, I actually felt the nostalgia tingle through me as I played it.

Xevious is still one of my favourite shooters ever. Great game!
I dare you to try and play Galaxians and not feel the nostalgia love

Games such as Xevious and its Super counterpart are also well worth a second look if itís been a long time since your last reunion. In the case of Mappy and Dig Dug II, although I can take them or leave them myself, only serve to take the whole Namco Museum experience above a notch.

All this got me into thinking: maybe Iím their perfect customer? Early thirties male looking to relive his now fading childhood, has grown up with these games and has the disposable income to shell out for it all once more. Maybe I am the target demographic? Maybe thatís why I like it, who knows? What I do know is, is that the inclusion of the encyclopaedia detailing the history of the games and a few extra vignettes and the music player which lets you listen to every sound effect and music from each game individually is a very nice touch and once again elevates Namco Museum slightly above the other retro-compilations we know and love/hate.

So with end being near and the final curtain soon to be drawn Iíll leave you with this thought: If you are like me and have played these games to death and the very idea of yet another anthology of old games makes you cringe and turn away then believe it or not you might actually be missing out here. The DS is now the perfect machine for enjoying easy, unchallenging, pick up and play titles like this. You might end up not wanting to admit it, but I bet you enjoy it as well.

Top Gaming Moment:
Pac Man Vs. over Wi Fi with a friend. Loads of fun for everyone!

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