Namco Museum Virtual Arcade Hands-On

Here's another Namco collection of oldies but goodies.

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Namco Museum: Virtual Arcade
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For those who are still stuck in the '80s and can't get enough of classic arcade games, Namco Bandai is coming out with another compilation that you can play from the comfort of your own couch. Namco Museum Virtual Arcade includes more than 30 titles--some of which are older than certain people here at this office--but on top of all that, a few Xbox Live Arcade titles are bundled in, as well as new arrangements for Galaga, Dig Dug, and Pac-Man.

The lovely Ms. Pac-Man.
The lovely Ms. Pac-Man.

The XBLA games have been available over Xbox Live for a while now, but if you want them all without having to download anything, you can do so via Namco Museum Virtual Arcade. Galaga Legions, Pac-Man Championship Edition, Mr. Driller Online, Pac-Man, Galaga, Ms. Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Xevious, and New Rally-X are all included so that you can keep your Namco arcade games organized and in one place. If you're an achievement junkie, you can get your fix here, because these are exactly the same as the downloadable versions. However, when you decide to jump to another game from here, you'll get kicked out to the dashboard instead of returning to the main menu of Namco Museum. This seems to happen only with the XBLA games.

The museum menu includes more than 20 old-school arcade games that you may remember from your childhood, only these come in high-definition. They include Baraduke, Bosconian, Dig Dug II, Dragon Buster, Dragon Spirit, Galaga '88, Galaxian, Grobda, King & Balloon, Mappy, Metro-Cross, Motos, Pac & Pal, Pac-Mania, Pole Position, Pole Position II, Rally-X, Rolling Thunder, Sky Kid, Sky Kid Deluxe, Super "Pac-Man," and the Tower of Druaga. These games were challenging back then (especially because this encouraged people to drop more coins into the machine). Now you don't need a pocketful of quarters to continue; instead, you just have to wait through some very bright and somewhat long loading screens to get to your desired game. No changes have been made to these classics, so you can play them as they were meant to be played (only without the oversized joystick and buttons). There's a certain charm to these games that you don't necessarily find in games today. It could be that these old games are so ridiculously simple--many of them require just one button and the analog stick. Some of them may not look like much, but once the nostalgia factor kicks in, it doesn't matter.

It's fascinating to see how racing games have evolved since Pole Position, and even though Pac-Man has gone through various makeovers and spin-offs (several included here), some of the fondest memories are from the original. If you haven't purchased any arcade compilations thus far, this would be a good one to look into. It doesn't have any added features or content that might make the bundle more interesting, but it does have some of the most memorable arcade games ever. Look for Namco Museum Virtual Arcade when it's released on November 4.

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