Namco Museum Review

As more and more games flood the market these days, it’s still important to look back at the age old classics to see how they worked back then and how they hold up today. Delving back into the vaults of gaming history, it’s clear that some have aged better than other, and unfortunately for Namco, the majority of the games they’ve put in their Namco Museum for the Nintendo Switch are just that little bit too dated.

It’s important to talk about the feature set for the menus in Namco Museum. Right off the bat you have access to all the eleven games on offer, with each of the ten arcade conversions featuring the game as intended as well as a challenge mode. The eleventh game a port of the GameCube game Pac-Man Vs. which has been designed specifically for the Switch.

If you’ve ever played around with the background options of other similar collections, then the options seen here will be similar. Each game has its own specific menu, complete with options for screen size, sound quality and controller support. There’s even a “how to play the game” option, as well as an in-menu option to change to a different game without exiting the one you’re playing first. These are all very welcome options and show that Namco care about how they’re presented.

Most curious is the option to rotate the screen, which unless you have a specific TV/monitor set means the only real way you’re utilising it is in handheld mode, propping the Switch on its side. Given that the Switch was not designed to stand like this, it seems like a very risky way to present a game for a device that is highly sought after with stock shortages.  Then again, some cases can double up as a stand for the console.

Of the games on offer, Pac-Man, Galaga, and Dig-Dug are essentially unchanged from their arcade counterparts and are the classics in the line up. Pac-Man and Dig-Dug however are as addictive as they have ever been, though Galaga will immediately seem dated because its sequel, Galaga ’88, is pretty much the same game with better quality sound and assets.

Tower of Druaga is a bit of an oddity in that it has seen the inclusion of a hint system for unlocking treasures found within the game, but the plodding speed of the game itself hasn’t been addressed. As such, it’s still a slog to play.

Perhaps the two least well known games will be Sky Kid and Tank Force. The latter is a dull combat simulator where you destroy oncoming waves of tanks to protect your base, but Sky Kid is a genuinely fun side-scrolling shooter, where you can pick up a bomb and drop it onto a ship for bonus points. It’s nothing too fancy by today’s standards, but a fun little game nonetheless.

The same can’t be said for the other two fairly unknown games; Rolling Thunder and its sequel both play largely the same, though the second does have some higher fidelity assets. That doesn’t stop it from being a surprisingly dull series that at its core is an arcade money muncher above all else. You could persevere with Save States – something the Namco Museum features with all the arcade games – but it doesn’t stop it from being an underwhelming experience.

While the Splatterhouse games are more well known, this is the first time one has been made as part of a Namco game collection. Having played Splatterhouse 2 on the Sega Mega Drive, it’s roughly what I would expect, though some alternative paths do freshen things up somewhat. This is also another game where Save States come in handy and work well here.

Overall the Arcade offerings are mostly full of games you’ll probably touch once and then never again, unless you’re somehow really obsessed with getting to the end of Rolling Thunder and Rolling Thunder 2. If it was just that, then there’d be a lot more eye-rolling than giddy excitement.

Perhaps Namco Museum’s saving grace is Pac-Man Vs. which is a GameCube game designed by Shigeru Miyamoto and developed in-house at Nintendo EAD, yet published by Namco. It was certainly a beautiful partnership, even if it required Gameboy Advance adapter cables so that each player could see the full map for themselves. It since saw a DS remake where multiple Nintendo DS systems were required, and its inclusion here is no stranger to the concept of needing additional hardware.

It’s a lot more forgiving for your wallet to play on the Switch, and should you have a friend with a Nintendo Switch, there is a free app on the eShop that will allow you to link up to play without the need to purchase another copy of Namco Museum.

There is also an option to play a mode of the game with three players that only requires one Switch and three Joy-Cons. Given that all Switches should at least have the capability to play with two players, this is as low a barrier to entry as it’s going to get.

As for the game itself, you can either have up to three players chase an AI Pac-Man to rack up points, or have three players using two Switches to chase after the fourth player who is Pac-Man. While the local multiplayer solution is wonderful, I do wish there was some kind of online mode as well, as this is a great little game and well worth being part of the collection.

What’s Good:

  • Includes some classics
  • Pac-Man Vs. is a great multiplayer game
  • Sky Kid surprisingly holds up
  • Great UI for the menus

What’s Bad:

  • Some duds in the collection
  • Rolling Thunder games are particularly dull
  • Pac-Man Vs. doesn’t have online multiplayer
  • Rotating the screen is worthless for TVs and risky to your Switch

On the whole, Namco Museum is only really worth purchasing if you either have an unhealthy obsession with at least three of Namco’s arcade classics, or want an immensely fun party game and don’t care too much about the price or extras. It’s great to see that they won’t be forgotten, but aside from Sky Kid there were no games that I hadn’t already played that I liked. Namco Museum is certainly well put together and presented, but the selection of games just aren’t completely enticing.

Score: 6/10


  1. Rolling Thunder was ace!

  2. “The same can’t be said for the other two fairly unknown games; Rolling Thunder and its sequel …”

    Really? The first Rolling Thunder was pretty popular on the NES, both in Japan and US (where it was an unofficial Tengen release), and it’s sequel was a much anticipated game in the Sega Genesis/Megadrive, back in the early 90s. Time sure flies fast :).

    • Speaking as a writer born in the UK, where the game was unreleased on the NES (which wasn’t the success it was in the US thanks to some weird manufacturing decisions early on) and only released on the old computer systems (think Amiga, Amstrad CPC, and the ZX Spectrum), I think the comment still stands.

      The sequel got a far wider release, but by that time the likes of Sonic the Hedgehog, ToeJam and Earl, and Streets of Rage were flying off shelves.

      Still if Tuffcub’s heard of it though at least one person in the UK knew of the series and if it’s your jam, the conversion’s a good one.

      • That’s interesting to know, thaks for the informarmation. It’s a bit of a surprise that Rolling Thunder wasn’t released in Europe. In this case, from the point of view of someone not living in the UK, the comment would be more precise as “fairly unknown in Europe”. But that’s me nitpicking, of course :).

        I do remember the European ports for the ZX Spectrum, Amiga and the C64. Though the Amiga version is awful, to say the least, and I’m still baffled that the Amiga would always get the crappiest versions, bar few exceptions (Rodland coming to mind).

        Finally, agreed that Rolling Thunder 2 wasn’t as popular as the first one. After all, the market had better gun shooting platform games at that time, and I won’t blame Megadrive owners for playing Gunstar Heroes or Contra: Hardcorps over Rolling Thunder 2 ;).

  3. You know what bugs me about these Namco museum/collections? it’s mostly there stuff from 80s rarely the 3D stuff they did in the 90s like Ridge Racer, Time Crisis, Tekken, Point Blank. I think these games rightly belong in these collections by now. I would love a proper straight port of the arcade version of Ridge Racer, I Don’t think there has been one apart from the PS1 version.

    These Namco collections are shoveware at this stage with the usual suspects such as Pac-man Dig-Dug and Galaga, games which you will find a port of on anything with the ability to compute. Its time they step up there game with these collections because its getting tiring seeing the same games over and over again.

    • That’s an interesting point to be made there, but there are a few things to consider with that. With Gun-Con games such as Time Crisis and Point Blank, the interface is completely different and unless someone releases a dedicated peripheral or utilises the PS Move more effectively, there isn’t much anyone can do about that.

      Ridge Racer and Tekken could work, though I’d personally like to see Soul Edge and Tokyo Wars as well.

      • There’s a parallel dimension where the Xbox One with Kinect sold like gangbusters, the peripheral is in so many people’s houses and the light gun genre has been revived by people making finger guns and making “pew pew!” sounds to shoot at the screen.

      • Namco have added PS Move support to stuff like the ports of Time Crisis 4 so they have utilized it before. I’m surprised at the launch of the PS Move they never ported over Time Crisis 1,2 and 3 they where popular games in there day could have helped with the very thin and mediocre line up it had when it released. I know its pretty slow and awkward set up people could use cross hairs controlled by an analog if they didn’t have move or whatever.

        I Find it odd Namco never rereleased remastered stuff like Ridge Racer and Tekken on PS4 during all the PlayStation 20th anniversary festivities considered they are PS1 classics. I hope after the success of stuff like the remastered Crash Bandicoot Trilogy it might get them thinking about it now

        I’d like to see the more of the lost in time stuff Namco did back in the 90s like Ace Drive, Alpine Racer and Dirt Dash.

      • Merits for each game getting into the collection aside, these games are not ports, they’re running on emulators, not their real hardware. So for the older arcade releases, always 2D based, it’s very easy to write an emulator and get these running fairly quick on several consoles. Not to mention thaat most of these games are based on the same board, with few modifications, to help with the process.

        Now, for the “earlier” releases, these are running on much more complex hardware, that got more revisions and, in most cases, a different and much more complex GPU on each release. Both Ridge Racer and Tekken are on System 22 boards, System Super 23 for Time Crisis 2, Ridge Racer V and Time Crisis 3 were on System 246, Time Crisis IV on System 256, and only with these games we got to 4 different arcade hardware that have, at best, average emulation on PCs. Unless emulating the hardware for these games becomes trivial stuff, I don’t see collections with them being released anytime soon.

      • I know that the collection on the switch and the other ones are emulation that’s why there on so many different systems. If they where hardcoding all these games individually to work natively instead of through emulation, it would require alot more time which I’d say Namco don’t want to be spending.

        With 3D Namco stuff of the 90’s emulation seems to be quite lackluster on PC. The system 22 emulator viva nonno hasn’t been updated since 2004 and only supported the ridge racer titles (Ridge Racer 1 ,2 Rave racer), Mame support for system 22 and 23 is mediocre some games I tried tend to have graphically issues or don’t work at all probably as you said due to complexity of the GPU and where people probably don’t have much access to information on how the actual GPU works and the rest of hardware works so just uses mostly mame’s preliminary drivers. The 23, 245 and 256 boards don’t even get the privilege of a dedictated emulator or proper mame support(the system 246/256 is based off the ps2 hardware so might see a fork of PCSX2 that runs thoses games). With enough effort Namco probably could create good emulators for there system 22, 23 , 246 and 256 boards since they have access (assuming they haven’t just chucked everything away) to all original development documents of stuff like the GPU

        This is why I would rather direct straight ports of 3D Namco stuff. Kinda like what Sega did with model 2 stuff they rereleased on the PS3 and 360. But again it would be too time consuming for them to bother.I agree with you on that we probably won’t see these games added to the collections anytime soon but a man can dream to be playing a native arcade version ridge racer 1 on his PS4 or platform of choice.

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