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Namco Museum Volume 1
Published by ECInc2XXX
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Namco Museum Volume 1

The Eric Corp Gamer's Retro Uprising Exclusive Review 38
Namco Museum Volume 1

It's been a long time since I've reviewed something, but I have been playing a lot of retro games on here and through compilations on various video game systems. One of them was Namco Museum Volume 1 for the Sony PlayStation, the first in a series of Namco Museum games that continues to this day on modern gaming systems. I'll always remember the original five volumes of Namco Museum (especially Vol. 3 and Vol. 5), as I remember playing a lot of it back then on the PlayStation. But how do this compilation hold up, compared to recent re-releases?

Due to this being a compilation, the review will be done a bit differently compared to my previous ones.

In Volume 1, it contains:
Pac-Man (1980)
Galaga (1981)
Pole Position (1982)
Bosconian (1981)
Rally-X (1980 (original), 1981 (New))
Toy Pop (1986)

Overall Game Grade: B+
NOTE: These games will be my overall views on the game. I will hopefully, reviews these games in more detail soon enough.

1. Pac-Man

Date of Release: May 22, 1980 (Japan), October 1980 (U.S.)

Game: A+
I believe this one needs no introduction, it is the classic maze game that almost everyone had played in one form of another. Of course, you control Pac-Man, the yellow dot-muncher, who has to eat every pellet in the maze to move on, while dodging the four ghosts: Shadow, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde. The game is very fun and addicting, with everything screaming 80's and classic in every department.

I already did a review of this game back in 2010, so read it for more info:
Pac-Man (Arcade) (Redux)

Emulation: B+
The overall emulation for this game is quite excellent, though not exactly 100% perfect. First of all, the game is not displayed in it's original ratio (normally), as it is made smaller to fit the television screens at the time. It is possible to view it in its original aspect ratio, but it would require you to put your TV at 90 degrees, which is indeed impossible (or maybe, almost) to do with bigger CRTs and HDTVs unless you have a rather small TV. I only wished they found a better way of doing this, rather than this dumb idea of doing that (which they did in recent compilations). The sound is for the most part good, but there are a few issues like the pitch of some sounds being deeper than normal, and some sounds not triggering properly like the sound of eating ghosts and a dot together. The controls are also spot on for this game, so no faults there. Other than a few scuffs, the emulation is still satisfactory for this classic game. Another thing that's annoying is that in order to leave the game, the game has to end first (lose all your lives) in order to do so, which is quite annoying, especially if you accidently pressed START (this applies to every game in this volume). But the upside is how the game can be configured, which is given the arcade feel of using DIP switches, which is indeed a nice touch (like the above part, it applies to every arcade game).


2. Galaga

Date of Release: 1981 (Japan / U.S.)

Game: A+
The classic space-shooter of the 1980s, and a sequel to the 1979 game Galaxian, You take control of a ship, where you have to destroy all the bug invaders (who are trying to kill you) and the bosses that are named Galaga (who also tries to kill you and even attempts to capture your ship with a tractor beam) in each stage. If your ship gets captured, you will lose a life, and you'll also have an opportunity to have a dual fighter (if you shoot the Galaga as it flies at you, not on standby), giving double the firepower, but bigger the target. After a few stages, a challenge stage occurs where the enemies will fly in specific patterns and you'll have to destroy all or as much as possible to score a lot of points. Of course like most arcade games, the game continues on and on until you lose all your ships, and as it progresses, the game gets harder and harder. This is a great sequel to the earlier game that is a lot better in every concievable way, and its added features adds to it to make it one of the best classic shooters of all time.

Emulation: A-
Unlike Pac-Man, the emulation is a lot more spot-on here. The graphics are normally viewed where the HUD on the top are moved to its own box, and the right is the game, which is a much better way of optimizing it for horizontal screens (it applies to all other arcade games below, except Boscanian (this style is its original form) and Pac-Man (see above)) It is possible to make it closer to the arcade, which brings the scores to the top of the screen, but the overall visuals are still big, if not a little squished. The sound is also like the original arcade, though some of the music (like when your ship is captured or getting back your ship) weirdly sounds a bit different. Once again, controls are great with no issues with them. Overall better emulation than Pac-Man's, and almost arcade perfect.

[ame=""]Namco Museum Volume 1: Galaga - YouTube[/ame]

3. Pole Position

Date of Release: September 1, 1982 (Japan), November 1982 (U.S.)

Game: B
One of the most important racing games of the 1980s that introduced many things to the racing genre. You take control of a Formula-One car, where you have to complete laps on a racetrack within a time limit. First, you have to complete a preliminary race in order to be qualified for the main race. Depending on how fast you complete it, determines your starting place in the race. In the main race, you'll have to complete a specific number of laps, within a time limit as well. Within the process, you'll have to dodge cars and keep your car on the road to prevent it from exploding that wastes your time. This is still an enjoyable racing game at heart, though it could benefited itself with more races (which they of course, addressed it in the 1984 sequel). Nonetheless, this is still a fun and simple driving romp to play.

Emulation: B-
The emulation is quite close to the arcade counterpart, in terms of graphics and sound for the most part. The graphics are exactly like the arcade, with no noticable issues or artifacts. Namco was also nice to add "LOW" and "HIGH" under the SPEED to show what shift the car was on. The sound remains accurate as well, though the explosion sound effects are kinda muted. But the thing that really killed the emulation for me is the controls, due to the fact that the arcade was controlled with a steering wheel, and the d-pad is not a good substitute to it, making steering properly very hard to do in this version. While the presentation is very accurate to the original, the controls hardly capture the experience found in the arcade machine, let alone playable at home.

[ame=""]Namco Museum Vol. 1 Pole Position (Playstation) Game Play - YouTube[/ame]

4. Bosconian

Date of Release: November 1981 (Japan), late-November/December 1981 (U.S.)
Game: A-
The first (or at least, the first notable) free-roaming multi-directional scrolling shooter arcade game. You control a small fighter ship that is able to move in any eight directions and can shoot both forward and backward. Your main objective is to destroy all the green space stations that are shaped as a hexagon, either by destroying all six cannons or destroy the red core in the middle of it. Also, you'll have to avoid and destroy asteroids, mines, missiles, ships, and launch formations from enemies. There is a condition that are GREEN (little amount of enemies come at you), YELLOW ("Alert! Alert", more enemies approach you), and RED ! ("Condition red", enemies appear more often and are more aggressive), and change often depending on how long you are on the level and the type of ship that appears (specifically the spy ship). While the game is very fun, the game can get a bit overwhelming pretty quick at times that you'll have to focus on too many things that will end up destroying your ship. Despite this, it is a very enjoyable shooter that brings it to a new level.

Emulation: A
One of the most accurate in terms of arcade emulation in this volume. The graphics are replicated perfectly well in their true 8-bit glory, and the sound effects are given the same treatment, from the classic sound effects to the terrible early voice samples. The only minor thing in the emulation (more nitpicking than anything) is that the victory music upon completing a level plays a second later than normal (presumably due to loading times). The controls are also very good and simple to use for this game, so I never had any issues with that. Like I said, this is probably one of the better ones in arcade emulation.

[ame=""]Namco Museum Vol 1. Gameplay: Bosconian - YouTube[/ame]

5. Rally X/New Rally X

Date of Release (Original): 1980 (Japan / U.S.)

Date of Release (New): 1981 (Japan / U.S.)

Game (Original): A-
It is another maze game, but with cars. You take control of a blue car, where you have to grab all 10 flags (9 normal, and 1 special) in the level, while avoiding the red cars that tries to crash into you. However, you can use rocks on the road and your smokescreen that you can use to stun the red cars for a short time, but used it only when necessary.As you grab flags, the value increases by 100 (and times 2, if the special flag is collected). However, if you lose a life, the value goes back to 100 and you lose the multiplier (if the special flag was collected). When all 10 flags are collected, you are rewarded points for remaining fuel. After 3 to 4 stages, a challenge stage occurs, where all you have to do is collect all 10 flags with no worry about enemy cars chasing you, but your fuel depletion occur much quicker due to your car moving faster, and when it runs out, they start moving. If you die in the challenging stages, you move to the next level, but you lose a life. The difficulty progress with more cars with faster velocity. Rather than being simply being a car version of Pac-Man, it is its own game with fun gameplay and challenge that definitely makes it one of a kind.

Game (New): A
It is an updated version of the 1980 original, with a few changes. The graphics have slightly improved, and there are different music in the game, which its tune is fun and catchy, despite being one tune (two versions specifically: one during the main levels, and one during the challenging stages). The gameplay here is the same as the original, but the difficulty was made easier, which the amount of cars and overall velocity are much smaller than normal, at first, which would appeal to more people than normal. The only real addition to the gameplay is the "Lucky" flag (flag with a "L") that gives you points based on remaining fuel. Other than that, this is still the same Rally-X fun, though I felt I had a bit more fun with this upgraded version due to these changes.

Emulation (Original): A
The other most arcade accurate one, next to Bosconian. The graphics and sound are well represented here, coming close to the arcade as possible (as least as close as the PS1 could). The controls are also very niche and playable, which would not hold you back from playing this classic. The only thing is that the little ditty that the game plays in the gameplay sometimes is delayed (probably loading times), which can occur on some PlayStations, mainly ones from PAL. Nonetheless, this is arcade perfect as it could for 1995.

Emulation (New):
For the most part, just as spot-on to the updated version, though it suffers from some audio issues. The main theme in the gameplay sounds slightly different from the arcade, and the insert coin sound effect doesn't sound like what it's supposed to sound like. Other than that, everything else is exact in graphics, and controls. Excellent emulation it is!

[ame=""]Namco Museum Vol. 1 Rally-x (Playstation) Game Play - YouTube[/ame]
[ame=""]Namco Museum Vol. 1 Gameplay: New Rally-X - YouTube[/ame]

6. Toy Pop

Date of Release: 1986 (Japan)

Game: C-
One of the first 16-bit Namco arcade games, and arguably the weakest of all the games in this volume. It is a top-down multi-directional shooter, where you take control of Pino (1-player) or Acha (2-player) and have to save their friend from the evil Majyo. They have to go through 44 levels (or "boxes", according to this game) of trying to collect all the golden hearts to allow entrance to the next floor, while avoiding and defeating the many evil toys that are trying to prevent your progress. There are many presents scattered throughout the level, whether they have nothing (majority of them), something bad (a punching glove that stuns you for a few seconds), or something good (your new set of clothes, different weapons, a "7", or a star). As for weapons, you do have a variety of them, with one weapon can destroy enemies, while others are unaffected by it. If you destroy every present and potions in the box, you are awarded bonus points upon exiting the level. Every 8 boxes, there is a bonus box, where you have to try to collect as much apples as you could to score big points. While this is quite an original idea for an arcade game, it suffers some serious issues that kinda prevent it from hitting classic status like the other games on here. For example, the movement is only locked on a grid, which makes it feels kinda awkward to use. Also, the idea that only specific weapons can destroy specific enemies is rather quite an annoying idea, as the weaknesses are just too specific and there are just too many weapons to deal with, and it doesn't help that some enemies can go through blocks and presents, making it a bit more unfairly difficult than intended. While the graphics and sound had indeed some charm and quality, the gameplay is indeed fun at first, but frustration and boreness come in real fast. While adding a second player add on to the experience and enjoyment, but it is overall really marred down by its issues.

Emulation: A-
The arcade emulation is amazingly good, though there are an audio issue in the main gameplay music in the game, which somewhat has a weird echo-y effect to it, which I'm pretty sure was never in the arcade version of the game, and more or less an emulation issue. Other than that, everything seems to shine well, as the game still visually looks and still sounds pleasing to see and hear. The controls are as good as they could be, giving that the game itself already has an awkward movement control scheme already. Seeing that this is the only way to play this game here in North America, this is as close as it going to be to play it legally (unless you of course, have the actual machine or PCB itself).

[ame=""]Toy Pop Gameplay (PS1) - YouTube[/ame]


Namco Museum: B-
However, Namco didn't just simply wanted a rushed-out compilation that had these games with no content. So, for these five volumes, they added a museum section. First, the pink informant here gives you of course info, the ability to register your name to save high-scores, and change the registered name. In the museum, each game in the volume has its own exhibit with things about the games like flyers, PCBs, marquees, artwork, tips, which is quite cool, until you notice that all the content (except tips) is from the Japanese version, rather than the U.S., which is a shame, because it would be nice to have both Japan and the U.S (if available) variations, but nope. Still, there are still fun for see for historical purposes anyway. After, there is a little game room, where the main exhibit, where the room is designed and created based on the game. For the most part, they look quite nice, especially the one for Galaga and Rally-X, though the 3D graphics are rather simplistic here for a fifth-gen. Also, the sound presentation overall is probably the best part of the game, especially the ones for each game room in the museum. I only wished that the Pac-Man look more closer to its arcade counterpart in its presentation rather than the later Pac-Land (and even Pac-Man 2), and the Toy Pop one was completely lazy as there is nothing, but a little thing by the cocktail arcade machine, which is a shame since it can look visually appealing to look at if it was done. Their is also a lounge, where there is miscellaneous stuff like the NG magazine (a magazine reserved for Namco games), a jukebox with music from the games included here, and a record book that shows all the high scores saved in each game based on the registered name. Being it was their first attempt at the museum concept, it isn't too bad, though some work could have been done to be better (especially the one for Toy Pop).

[ame=""]Namco Museum Volume 1 (PlayStation) Tour - YouTube[/ame]

Overall: B+
Namco Museum Volume 1 is indeed a great compilation filled with almost the best of Namco's arcade history, despite some of its faults with its emulation. The museum itself is the supposed main point of this compilation, and while it has its moments, not as rewarding as it could have been. Still, this is worth getting for anyone who wants to take a trip back to the 80s, where video games are simple, but fun and enjoying. And how much does a credit cost here at home? None, meaning no quarters at all!

2013 Eric Corp Incorporated
Credit for photos is given to:
1. Killer List of Video Games:
Arcade, Videogame, Pinball Machine, and Antique Coin-Operated History -- The International Arcade Museum
Emuparadise - N64 Playstation Dreamcast SNES Genesis NES MAME ROMs ISOs
3. The Arcade Flyer Museum:
4. Wikipedia:
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Expect a review of Namco Museum Volume 2 soon! So, until then, game on!
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:02 PM
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Re: Namco Museum Volume 1

Nice, I have Midways Arcade Treasures 2 for the PS2.Games are:

Mortal Kombat 2
Mortal Kombat 3
Gauntlet 2
Spy Hunter 2
Cyberball 2072
Total Carnage
Pit Fighter
Wzard of Wor
Primal Rage
Arch Rivals
Rampage World Tour
Kozmik Krooz'r
Championship Sprint
Hard Drivin'
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Old 04-08-2013, 12:25 PM
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Posts: 237
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Re: Namco Museum Volume 1

Originally Posted by bearhawk72 View Post
Nice, I have Midways Arcade Treasures 2 for the PS2.Games are:

Mortal Kombat 2
Mortal Kombat 3
Gauntlet 2
Spy Hunter 2
Cyberball 2072
Total Carnage
Pit Fighter
Wzard of Wor
Primal Rage
Arch Rivals
Rampage World Tour
Kozmik Krooz'r
Championship Sprint
Hard Drivin'
Yeah, I also have that collection, too (as well as the first and third ones). Not as good as the first Midway Arcade Treasures in terms of overall games, but it is still a great compilation of classic Midway games (but wait for a review of it eventually).
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Old 04-09-2013, 04:08 PM
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Re: Namco Museum Volume 1

Nicely done, thanks a lot for sharing! Some great games, Pole Position was one of the very first games I ever played in an arcade! Ah, memories.
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Old 04-09-2013, 05:26 PM
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Re: Namco Museum Volume 1

Bosconian,Pole Position are two of my arcade favorites, I read some reviews that many did'nt like Spy Hunter 2 because of the graphics and sounds
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