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Old 04-26-2013, 12:50 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Namco Museum Volume 2

The Eric Corp Gamer's Retro Uprising Exclusive Review 39
Namco Museum Volume 2




Namco Museum Volume 1 review (April 8, 2013):
Namco Museum Volume 1

What comes after one? ........ why two, of course! Today is a review of Namco Museum Volume 2 for the Sony PlayStation, released in early 1996 in Japan and North America, which contains six more arcade games from Namco's classic archives from the 80's. Will this be a worthy follow-up to the first volume of Namco Museum? Find out... right now!

In Volume 2, it contains:
Xevious (1982)
Gaplus (1984)
Super Pac-Man (1982)
Mappy (1983)
Grobda (1982)
Dragon Buster (1984)


Overall Game Grade: B-
NOTE: I forgot to mention in the first volume, that I based the emulation factor off MAME (while not 100% accurate, is quite closer to their arcade counterparts than the ones here) and my knowledge and memory of playing these games, if available.

Also, to note... the flaw with the fact that you have to get GAME OVER first to be able to exit the game from the first volume still applies here. Also, you have to not be playing the game to change settings and such.


1. Xevious



Date of Release: 1982 (Japan / U.S.)

Game: A
One of the first vertical scrolling shooters to be released, and one that still remains to be fun and challenging. You take control of a ship (known as Solvalou, according to the game), where you have to destroy both land and air enemy types, as well as other man-made objects along the way as you move your way through the level. Once in a while, a boss (one of the first to have level bosses too) appears where you'll have to bomb their cores using your bombs. You may think that it sounds unfair, having to focus on both top and bottom, but the game makes it simple by moving it at a slow pace and having a crosshair where the bomb will fall. The graphical presentation is excellent, while the music and sounds are cool and retro to listen to, though soon you may find the music kinda annoying after a while. Also, the gameplay is very enjoyable and fun to play that also manages to have a fair and progressive difficulty unlike most modern vertical shooters like Gradius and R-Type (which are known for their outrageous difficulty).

Emulation: A-
This is very accurate to the arcade original, The graphics, sound, and gameplay are very well replicated. The only minor thing that affects an otherwise impressive emulation is the slight pause between the level start and the ditty during the gameplay. Also, on some PlayStations (specifically PAL), there is also a pause between the little gameplay ditties. Nonetheless, this is indeed still almost pristine of the classic vertical scrolling shooter.


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2. Gaplus




Date of Release: 1984 (Japan / U.S.), 1985 (U.S. (as Galaga 3))

Game: C+

The sequel to the 1981 classic shooter Galaga, which has the same style of gameplay where you control of the ship where you have to destroy the aliens that resembles insects. The challenging stages are different where you'll have to hit the aliens to make it juggle over and over again to form a word to obtain a bonus, upon doing so. An interesting idea, but not very memorable and The graphical presentation is well-done and contain a bit more detail in the ships, but it still retains the style of the prequel. The music and sound in the game is okay and resembles its prequel, so not much wrong there. Of course, they added some things that could have work if done right... but the execution makes the game less enjoyable and more unfairly difficult and annoying. It added the ability to move all around in the bottom half (or about 2/5) of the screen, a tractor beam that allows you to steal up to six enemy ships to use in your arsenal, and a powerup that allows you to create a powerful beam that destroy anything that touches it. It may sound cool on paper and with good execution, but there are things that prevent it from being as good as it sounds. First of all, the enemy movements are more random and reckless to deal with, making it harder and more complicated to escape trouble due to the more allowed movement you have; it would have been nice if you could move a little faster than normal. Also, good luck that you can keep the extra firepower since you'll need for the levels after the first challenging stage, because the enemy movements move a lot faster and get too confusing to deal with. Also, some hit detection can be a bit wonky sometimes since you and the enemies can be hit even though it didn't seem to make contact (unless that one specific pixel on the ship counted as a hit) I really wanted to like this due to containing the classic gameplay of the 1981 prequel, but the unfair difficulty, the bland challenging stages, the sloppy execution in the added features, and the questionable collision detection makes this feel kinda of a half-baked attempt at a sequel. What a shame, because once you get used to these issues, there is still a bit of fun to be had inside this flawed shooter, though soon it would have you playing Galaga instead.

Emulation: A
It is excellent in its emulation for its time. The graphics, sound, gameplay, and controls are arcade perfect, as even I haven't noticed anything wrong. If only the game was a bit better than it could have been...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsvhSzTFzJg
(sorry for the quality, but this is the only one I can find from this compilation)

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3. Super Pac-Man



Date of Release: October 1982 (Japan) / November 1982 (U.S.)


Game: A-
The official sequel to the 1980 classic maze game Pac-Man (Ms. Pac-Man technically isn't an official sequel, since Midway and GCE created that instead of Namco, without their permission). While the core maze mechanic of the original is still retained, but the gameplay is a bit different. Instead of eating little beige dots, you're eating many food and objects of any kind (10 - infinity pts, depending on level), though the super pellets that allow you to devour the ghosts whole for points. Also, after eating a few fruits, a little slot machine style thing appears, where you'll have to match the two objects for big points (usually 2000 - 5000 pts) or if not, a little bonus is still applied (about 400 - 1000 pts). But, you'll first have to eat the keys throughout the maze that unlock cerain parts of it to get through. Also, another power-up is the big green dots that makes you go super, which makes you invincible to ghosts, the ability to break through closed areas, and gives you super-speed if the button is pressed for a limited time. Adding both the super pellets and the green pellets will make you the ultimate ghost killing machine, so take advantage of achieving big points in the earlier levels. Of course, if both is used, once time runs out, both powerups finish. Like Pac-Man, as you progress... the powerup time is less and less until it becomes useless (other than for points), the ghosts move faster and have random movements, and the keys open places more far away from you. Once every 3 to 5 levels, an intermission appears in the style of the original, but are more varied and interesting to look at, which is usually followed by a bonus stage, where you start as Super Pac-Man, and you'll have to eat all the objects as fast as you can for time bonus. The graphics are colorful and enjoyable to look at, even if it is dated by about 2 years. The sound effects are similar to Pac-Man with a slight difference, and some new sounds are good as well. The controls are simple and great for the most part but when using Super Pac-Man's super speed, the controls don't always respond to your quick movements, which can be quite annoying. I like these new changes to the already classic Pac formula, but many others don't seem to think otherwise since reception to this game is fairly mixed, and it was a failure, compared to the bonafide success of Pac-Man, and the 1981 unofficial sequel Ms. Pac-Man. I may be on the minority on this, but I actually really enjoy this game to the point that it's an pretty overlooked and underrated arcade game, even if it does suffer a little on the controls. And hey, if you ever wanted to know how it's like to play like the giant Pac-Man from the first intermission of the 1980 original? Then, this is your game!

Emulation: B+
Like Pac-Man from the first volume, the screen is compressed and made smaller to allow fit on televisions of the era. Once again, you do have the option of making it vertical to bring its original aspect ratio, but you'll have to bring the TV on its side, which is very implausible on modern televisions and personally a really lame and ridiculous idea to begin with. I just wished they had the option of bring its HUD on the right side and the gameplay on the left like in most games in this compilation, but nope. Also, there is a slight delay in the sound of the slot machine thing in the middle, the ghosts when the power pellet is being used, and the time bonus. Also, there is a longer wait between levels and intermissions, which is presumably due to loading times on the CD. Other than those minor quirks, the emulation is still as good as it could be on the PlayStation, and it serves it purpose enough for the player to have fun.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fc3utAGmvmU
(sorry for the quality, but this is the only one I can find from this compilation)

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4. Mappy



Date of Release: 1983 (Japan / U.S.)

Game: A
The classic cat and mouse game from Namco, containing a lot of style and fun at the same time. You take control of the Micro Police mouse named Mappy, where you have to retrieve the stolen items from the Naughty Folks' hideout that consists of the boss Nyamco (or Goro in the U.S) and his henchmen, the Meowkies (Meowky in the U.S.). In each house, Mappy makes his way through the floors in the building by bouncing on the trampolines, but you can only hit it a few times at once or it will brake. In various floors, there are sometimes either items to collect, normal doors that you can use to block the cats or hit them with it to stun them for a few seconds, and a door that releases a microwave that knocks any cat that collides with it (200 pts each (1 & 2), 400 pts each (3 - 6), 1000 pts each (6 - 10) (Meowkies), a mewky x2 multiplier (Nyamco)). Also, as you collect one item in a pair, the same item in the pair will flash and upon collected will receive a multiplier; as you constantly repeat this, the multiplier increases up to 6 (it goes back to x 1 if the wrong item is collected, reached the end of the stage, or upon death). Also, Nyamco will attempt to hide in one item for a few seconds and if the item is collected while he is hiding, 1000 pts is rewarded. Like in most Namco games of the era, there are bonus stages every 3 - 5 levels where you are constantly bouncing on trampolines that never reset their bouncing count, while trying to collect all the red balloons (99 of them? nah, only about 16), and the big balloon with Nyamco's face on it within a time limit (specifically the length of the music playing in the bonus stage). The graphics are classic Namco style with simple, colorful graphics, the music is a bit catchy to listen to, though it can get repetitive (hey, what do you expect), and the controls are simple enough and well done. While the graphics may make some people dismiss this game as kiddie (which is unfair to say), the gameplay is indeed both challenging and enjoyable at the same time that will bring you coming back for years to come. It's a real shame that this was overlooked in the U.S. upon it's original arcade release, but anyone who's missed it, I recommend it to check it out for some classic arcade action with personality (I'm not going to make that "obvious" joke).

Emulation: A-
The graphical, sound, and controls are replicated very well here, but this game does kinda suffer from slightly more load times compared to others when loading when transitioning between levels and making the music play. Otherwise, this is indeed an excellent port of this classic game.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVC4tC2wkL4

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5. Grobda


Date of Release: 1984 (Japan / U.S.)

Game: C
The spinoff game of Xevious, where you take control of the tank from that game to join the NBA (no, not that one... the National Battling Association), where you'll have to defeat all the enemy tanks in the level (or battling). ou do die in one hit (with a funny sound effect upon death), but you are equipped with a force field that protects you for a limited time, depending on the slowly rechargable energy gauge, where both your offense and defense are powered by. The main point in achieving big scores to create a chain reaction where the explosion from any tank makes another one explode and so on. Unfortunately, this is pretty hard to achieve, since you still die from the explosion even when your force field is on. The main problem with this game is that it gets a bit dull and repetitive and way too difficult too fast with tanks that take more damage and faster moving targets especially since you move fairly slow. That means unless you're really good, you'll won't last very long. Because of this, the game can still be fun to play only in short bursts, but nothing else.

Emulation: A
This is pristine emulation for this game, with the graphics, gameplay, controls, and sound (including the voice clip "Get ready!") are well replicated to home console with no problems, or at least I haven't notice any disparities between the two.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIPdHbjPwVI
(unfortunately, I couldn't find the footage of Namco Museum Volume 2 version of this game, so this is the arcade version emulated on MAME)

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6. Dragon Buster


Date of Release: 1984 (Japan)*

Game: C-
The first game to use a life bar (or vitality for this game), and one of the first side-scrolling action games. You take control of the warrrior named Clovis as he goes hack and slash through many stages filled with caves, buildings, and dungeons to save his fair Celia from the evil dragon. I do like that there are branching paths in each stage (and many more in later ones), but I do wish that these stages are a lot more varied as all of them feel the same with not much difference. In each location, you'll have to make your way through the enemies and bosses to reach the end. Throughout the room, there are many big rooms around where you face a strong foe to destroyupon defeat, you'll get some items like magic and health (or the oldest trick in the book, the red potion which hurts you) or the door to exit. After successfully leaving, you'll recieve some vitality back. At the end of each stage, you face the dragon at the end to defeat to continue on, get all your health back, and increase your max health. Judging by that, it may sound like it could be a gem that not much outside of Japan has heard. But, even though the graphics and sounds are quite good and detailed for an 1984 arcade game, there are some flaws that really affect the overall game experience. First of all, the jumping in this game is terrible as you have to press UP instead of having its own button, which really affects you especially when you're in the heat of battle. Also, everytime you get hit, you bounce around, which is really annoying and hard to retain your balance. It doesn't help that there is no temporary invincibility upon receiving damage, which means you'll constantly bounce over and over again, possibly losing all your health and die (btw, lose all your health and it's game over). It doesn't help that some of the enemy types are quite unfair to deal with like the wizards and the will-o'the wisp, since they are (or like to spawn) things that like to move around too much, making it hard to dodge and/or attack them. While it does have a nice presentation, some charm and can be fun for a little while, its many issues make this an otherwise really frustrating game that many will probably not deal with, and as a result, it is the weakest game in this volume.

*Wikipedia claims "NA (North America) 1984" on the arcade release date their wiki page about this, but I don't believe that (yeah I know, don't always believe what the wiki says). Anywhere else indicates only a Japanese release. Had only Namco Museum had stuff from both Japanese and U.S. releases, then I would confirm this...

Emulation: A-
The emulation is almost pristine, though it has a few minor things that prevents it from being perfect. This is mainly due to load times, since there are slight delays in transitions in its music and when entering a location. Other than that, it is still close enough for people to get a glimpse of the game, if they enjoy it or not.

NOTE: There is a bug in the compilation where the high score ingame will reset back to 10000, but the high score will still be recorded in the record book in the lounge room.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIAU4EYfGXM
(unfortunately, I couldn't find the footage of Namco Museum Volume 2 version of this game, so this is the arcade version emulated on MAME)

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Namco Museum: C-
The museum is in the exact same style as the first volume, but of course with different games, with different artworks, PCBs, flyers, marquees based on the game, though still only their Japanese releases, which is a huge shame since it would be nice for the game to show some of the changes made to the western versions. Unfortunately, the exhibits are more lackluster and odd, at least compared to the first volume (except Toy Pop's). Mappy's is above average since its exhibit is kinda bland, but it does capture the feel of the original game. Dragon Buster's exhibit feel like a missed opportunity since it's only a cave from the game with some enemies in the background; I believe so much more could have been done here like showing off the dragon, the hero, or the princess or something. Super Pac-Man is completely odd as it has nothing to do with the game itself except the fact it has ghosts in a theater that's displaying Super Pac-Man; I mean really? That's the best they could come up with? Xevious' is okay, showing the insides of the boss ship from the game which is neat, though I kinda expected a bit more. Gaplus' is decent for the most part, showing the Gaplus ship using the tractor beam power-up in space which looks good for what it shows, but I wished it at least showed an insect enemy ship in 3D. The exhibit in Grobda is probably the best exhibit in the game, where it shows the tank Grobda in a warehouse, preparing for the NBA... um, the national battling association; it does have a bit more class by having a bit more detail and having a bit things in it to prevent it from looking lazy and it does have to do with the game. Then, there's the lounge room, which is exactly the same as the previous volume, but the NG magazine covers are different, the Namco official history is updated, and the jukebox have music from the games in this compilation. But the record book stuff remains the same, which registers your high scores to the registered name that was created at the pink informant desk. I'm pretty shocked that this feels more sloppily made than the previous one, despite the format being the same as that game. While the information about the game is still a bit interesting and historic, the presentation otherwise is disappointing. Still, this is worth a peek if you are really curious about Namco history, but expect to come out feeling a little empty.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VTWsRLFR1Q

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Overall: C+
Namco Museum Volume 2 is a fair compilation with its ups and downs, but it still sufferly leaves a lot to be desired compared to the first volume. Half of its games are classics that are worth playing repeatedly (Xevious, Super Pac-Man, and Mappy), there are some that are interesting to non-Japanese gamers at first but its issues prevent it from being an excellent arcade game (Gaplus, Grobda, and Dragon Buster). It doesn't help that the namco museum is samey as the first, but feels more hastily put together that takes away from its value. Nonetheless, the almost pristine emulation of these three classic games (and even the other three if you actually like those more than I do) are still worth it if you want it at home to allow to play it with no quarters needed. Volume 2 may not be your definitive volume, but it is still recommended to anyone heading into some arcade fun.

Credit to: Wikipedia, The International Arcade Museum, The Arcade Flyer Museum, and Arcade History

If you wish to play the games from this compilation on here:

Super Pac Man - Arcade/Coin-Op
Mappy - Arcade/Coin-Op
Gaplus - Arcade/Coin-Op
Grobda - Arcade/Coin-Op
Dragon Buster - Arcade/Coin-Op
Xevious - Arcade/Coin-Op

2013 Eric Corp Incorporated


A Namco Museum Volume 3 review coming soon! Two down, four left to go!

Last edited by ECInc2XXX; 04-26-2013 at 01:15 AM..
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