Namco Museum Archives Vol. 1 review for PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Platform: PS4
Also on: PC, Xbox One, Switch
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: Bandai Namco
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-2
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

You probably don?t need me to tell you whether Namco Museum Archives Vol. 1 is worth your time. Ten of the eleven games here have been around for decades, and even if you haven?t played them, you?ve almost certainly played some of their descendents. It?s hard to imagine anyone looking at most of these games and not having a baked-in opinion by now.

Like, we?re talking about games like Pac-Man, Galaxian, and Dig Dug, each of them in their most basic forms. You know what you think of them. If you want to play them straight, you get to do that here.

Some of the other games are a little less known, but still hew pretty closely to the genres they helped birth. Sky Kid is a 2D flying game that feels completely forgettable. Likewise, Dragon Spirit: The New Legend and Xevious are by-the-numbers shmups — though even by the genre?s standards, they both seem kind of bland and barebones. There?s an interesting platformer here called Mappy that?s a fun spin on cops-and-robbers, albeit with some fairly frustrating mechanics. And if you like dungeon-crawling RPGs, you have a pair of options in The Tower of Druaga (which is one of the most tedious games I?ve ever played) and Dragon Buster (which seems incredible when you compare it to Tower of Druaga, since you aren?t moving at a crawl and you can actually attack enemies).

There are two games here, though, that really stand out. The first is Splatterhouse: Wanpaku Graffiti, a beat-?em-up platformer that was previously exclusive to Japan. It?s a prequel to Splatterhouse, except where that first game was ultra-violent and relatively bloody, this one is…very Japanese. I wouldn?t quite call it chibi, though everything here is much cuter than you?d expect from a horror game. Further, it?s also got a sense of humour; your very first boss battle starts with some choreographed dancing, and the game is willing to poke fun at itself.

The other standout here is demake of 2007?s Pac-Man Championship Edition. It?s probably a little unfair to compare it to any of the other ten games on this compilation, seeing as its design has the benefit of 30+ years of hindsight, but it?s still an incredible take on an incredible game that feels alive in a way that none of the other games here do.

Is it enough to singlehandedly make Namco Museum Archives Vol. 1 worth picking up? Probably not…but it?s good enough that I?d at least have to think about it before answering that question. At the very least, it justifies the collection?s existence, even if the rest will probably only appeal to you if you want another version of games that, mostly, have been available elsewhere for decades.

Bandai Namco provided us with a Namco Museum Archives Vol. 1 PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: B