This "50th Anniversary" addition to the Museum series celebrates the longevity of Namco, which was founded in 1955 as an operator of "rocking horse" amusement rides. Namco has been in the video game business since 1974, when it acquired the Japanese division of the original Atari.
In its most prolific arcade game compilation yet, Namco revives 14 coin-op classics for play on home consoles. The disc aims to provide spot-on emulations of the following blockbuster hits and forgotten favorites: Galaxian (1979), Pac-Man (1980), Rally-X (1980), Ms. Pac-Man (1981), Galaga (1981), Bosconian (1981), Dig Dug (1982), Pole Position (1982), Xevious (1982), Pole Position II (1983), Mappy (1983), Sky Kid (1985), Rolling Thunder (1987), and Dragon Spirit (1987).
Namco is going into their 50th year of business and as a tribute, to both themselves and their millions of loyal customers, they produced the Namco Museum 50th Anniversary. This special Anniversary edition reintroduces 14 of the classic arcade style games of the 1970-80's to today's generation of gamers. Sure, some of today's gamers have heard of these games, mostly from their parents or older siblings, but the chances they have ever played any of them aren't very high. The question that looms ahead, will the die-hard gamers with their simulation and intelligence and high-quality fighting games of today even like or appreciate the classics from earlier times? Namco sure hopes so.
Classics that are included are: Dig Dug, Pole Position & Pole Position II, Rally X, Rolling Thunder, Bosconian, Dragon Spirit, Xevious, Mappy, Galaga, Sky Kid, Pac-Man, and Ms. Pac-Man. Pac-Mania and Galaga '88 are also included but must be unlocked by getting extremely high scores on other games.
This is not the first re-release of classic games that this company has made, in fact, they released a collection of arcade games for PlayStation (that some of these titles appeared in also) covering nearly five discs that turned into one of the most sought after discs for that console. A Namco Museum has also been released for GameCube, Xbox, and even PlayStation 2. So far the largest Namco Museum only featured 12 titles, but the Anniversary edition has 14 (with two hidden), making it the largest one yet. The past anniversary compilation titles from Namco have been excellent, so much a lot expected from this 50th Edition.
The excitement generated when the idea of Nanco Museum: 5oth Anniversary was introduced was unbelievable. The classics: back in action. You just can't beat that. I mean, these are the games everything was based and founded on. The games in this package are as friendly, simple, and uncomplicated as they were when they came out years ago. Problem? They don't include any history, notes from the creators, or developmental accounts. There were no extras on the disc whatsoever. This was kind of disappointing, especially from an anniversary edition, I definitely expected more. They didn't need to base the entire set on history and background, but they could have at lease looked at the history of Pac-Man or the changes made in racing and the evolution from Pole Position to Ridge Racer. Even a short piece on Namco would have been appreciated here. This will probably end up being the number one criticism Namco receives for the Anniversary package.
Another visible problem here, more of an annoying detail really, is the incredibly long loading times. The games load in decent times, but returning to the main menu is a pain and seems to take forever. Just because we are playing twenty year old games doesn't mean we should have to wait, but maybe they're just trying to give us the real and original experience.
The switch from arcade to console has been made almost perfectly. Every game in the package looks and is played as close to the original arcade game as possible; there are even many recognizable patterns in action. The feel of playing them is pretty much the same, but many of the young generation won't even realize or appreciate this.
Original Namco arcade games were tilted (vertically oriented), so the standard monitor had to be adjusted to give it the "taller" look. Letter-boxing (black bars on both sides of playing field) has been added to give these games a more original look. Both the graphics and sound are what you would expect from a twenty year old remake. They have been dated, of course, but you still feel like a kid in the middle of a video game arcade when you are playing. Graphics are brightly colored, giving these games not only the same feel but exactly the same look as they did when they were first created.
Other than an accurate imitation of the original, classic arcade games from a decade or two ago, Namco Museum: 50th Anniversary doesn't give you much else. The interface is pretty neat, it involves a turntable of 3D arcade games for selection coupled with a soundtrack of a variety of 1980's music. Only difference? Here you won't need any quarters to play. The most disappointing thing about this package is the lack of effort in showing Namco's history of the history of their games.
Even though today's game productions are very elaborate and, well, big, the classics are still enjoyable and fit in well and will stand out among the games of this generation. It's fun to be able to play these games in their original form and relive their original designs on a new generation system. The only problem and biggest disappointment with this Anniversary edition is the lack of gaming history. Why isn't there any history or background? That's the number one question to be answered here. Even though there is no history involved, these games are still the best of the best from Namco, all conveniently packaged together.
Even with all of the complaints this edition is bound to receive for the lack of background or story-line presented, it is still a blast to play the games that were so fun and important as a kid (Pac-Man, here's looking at you). The bargain basement price and the most classic of games is must have for any collection; if for nothing else than to say you have it.
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