Namco Museum Battle Collection E3 2005 Preshow Report

Old-school arcade gets a new-school look in this PSP-only collection of Namco classics.

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With Namco Museum Battle Collection, game publisher and developer Namco is counting on the nostalgia factor to weigh in on gamers' purchasing decisions. After all, the game will include PSP versions of more than 20 arcade titles, including core classics such as Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga, Galaxian, Dig Dug, Rally-X, and New Rally-X. While this collection of coin-op games might be enough to satisfy the casual player, NMBC doesn't stop there, piling on an additional 10 slightly more obscure games--Xevious, Bosconian, Rolling Thunder, Mappy, Tower of Druaga, Dragon Buster, Grobda, Motos, Dig Dug 2, and King & Balloon.

Galaga, Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, and Dig Dug are joined by lesser-known arcade games such as Tower of Druaga, Dragon Buster, and Grobda.
Galaga, Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, and Dig Dug are joined by lesser-known arcade games such as Tower of Druaga, Dragon Buster, and Grobda.

While the majority of these games are included in NMBC as straight ports of their arcade forebearers, a select few have received a spit and polish especially for the PSP. These amped-up versions--known as Arrangement--are more than just exterior makeovers, however, as all of the titles take advantage of the wireless multiplayer capabilities of Sony's PSP handheld. In some games--Dig Dug or Pac-Man, for instance--you'll be playing cooperatively with a friend, trying to clear maps and avoid enemies. In others--like Galaga and Rally-X--you'll be going head-to-head to compete for high scores (and bragging rights, of course).

In Rally-X Arrangement, for example, you'll be racing against your opponent to see who can collect the most flags when clearing a map. In the Arrangement version of Galaga, the action gets a bit more contentious, as you'll be racing to see who can clear a particular stage the quickest. An added layer of depth comes in the ability to send swarms of enemies you've already defeated against one or more opponents, thus delaying their stage clearance. With up to four players taking part in the same wireless competition, it's easy to imagine the kind of chaos that could erupt.

Graphically many of the classic Namco games receive an attractive makeover for the PSP version while still remaining faithful to the original concepts that made the games so appealing. The most dramatic of these upgrades is in the new Galaga, which features newly stylized alien enemies (including huge bosses), brightly colored weapons effects, and a starry background that showcases sci-fi elements such as planetscapes and space stations. The updated Pac-Man features brightly colored 3D mazes that find Pac-Man chomping his way around flower pots, garden awnings, and the traditional futuristic-styled mazes.

Wireless play on games like Galaga and Rally-X add a new level of dimension to these classic titles.
Wireless play on games like Galaga and Rally-X add a new level of dimension to these classic titles.

With a vertical mode that will let you play some of these classic games in a manner closer to their arcade-cabinet roots, and PSP wireless play to boot, Namco Museum Battle Collection looks to be the kind of title that will be a good companion for you and a couple of your PSP-toting buddies. We'll have more on this collection, due for release later this year, in the near future.

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