Namco Museum Archives Vol. 2 review for PS4, Xbox One, Switch

Platform: PS4
Also on: Switch, Xbox One, PC
Publisher: Bandai Namco
Developer: Bandai Namco
Medium: Digital
Players: 1-4
Online: No

On some level, it?s kind of neat that Namco Museum Archives Vol. 2 exists. Whereas Volume 1 consisted of lots of well-known classics from Bandai Namco?s past (all of which were exactly what you?d expect), the games here represent slightly deeper cuts from their archives. Given that many of these probably haven?t been thought about in decades, it?s nice that they?re being given a chance to be discovered by new generations of gamers.

Mind you, in most cases it?s pretty obvious why these games are more forgotten curios than beloved memories. Like, from the perspective of seeing how games evolved, Pac-Land is undeniably important — it?s a side-scrolling platformer that doesn?t just predate the original Super Mario Bros. by a year, it was cuted as an influence by Shigeru Miyamoto. But as a standalone, it kind of sucks. The controls feel clunky and awkward — you use face buttons to go forward and backward, and the left thumbstick to jump — and the whole thing is nowhere near as well put-together as SMB would be a year or two later.

Similarly, Legacy of the Wizard is a Metroidvania-style platformer that comes from before the term existed — largely because it was a contemporary of both Castlevania and Metroid. While, again, it?s interesting from that historical perspective, between the awkward controls and the confusing layout it isn?t hard to see why it didn?t become anywhere near as influential as its contemporaries.

Basically, the recurring theme here is that pretty much all of these games are more interesting than they are good. Mandel Palace is an action-puzzler that?s mainly notable because it shows what Game Freak was developing before they discovered Pok?mon. Dragon Buster II is a confusing dungeon-crawler that came out on the NES in Japan in 1989, and is only officially getting a Western release now. Gaplus is a sequel to Galaga that never got released outside of arcades. Dig Dug II was a flop when it first came out because of the way it abandoned the original?s gameplay in favour of attacking enemies with bombs — and it?s not hard to see why people abandoned it back when it first came out.

As for the rest of the compilation, there?s nothing that really stands out. Galaga is here, and it?s fine, but given there?s also Gaplus, that means you have 2 out of 11 games that follow in the footsteps of Galaxian (which itself was on the first Namco Museum Archives volume). Battle City is a boring tank game, Super Xevious is a shmup that doesn?t do much more than the original Xevious did (which, again, was on the first volume), Mappy-Land is a forgettable platformer, and Rolling Thunder is a nondescript sidescrolling action game with some annoying enemy placement.

In other words, most of these games have been forgotten for a reason. Whereas the first Namco Museum volume was a solid mixture of all-time classics with one must-play new game added in for good measure (and let me reiterate: go play the Pac-Man Championship Edition demake!), Namco Museum Archives Vol. 2 is a collection of oddities that you probably don?t need to play.

Bandai Namco provided us with a Namco Museum Archives Vol. 2 PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: C-