Founded in 1955, Namco's humble roots began in making children's
rides for department stores. However, it soon migrated to the
coin-op videogame market. A young man named Toru Iwatani created
a number of games for the fledgling new company. He then created
Pac Man, and the rest, as they say, is history. Recently, Namco,
much like other older game companies, has been releasing compilations
of their older and more prolific titles. Many of these collections
have been preying on the nostalgia of gamers past, but Namco's
most recent compilation has gone above and beyond, rehashing
games with new graphics and gameplay. But is a simple facelift
enough to make these ancient games appeal to today's gaming
When you first boot up the game, you are treated to a slot
reel of Namco's classic games. Namco has decided to run the
full gamut of old titles, releasing golden oldies such as Pac
Man and Dig Dug, and less-known games such as Mappy and Rolling
Thunder. Some of these games are still as fun and innovative
as ever, while others have proven that time is not kind to
all old games. All the good games are perfect examples of what
gameplay should be, and prove it by still holding their own
in today's market.
Games such as Pac Man, Dig Dug, and Galaga
need no introduction. However, one of the first things you
may notice is the unabashed similarities between games. For
instance, you may have fun reliving the good old days in the
arcade with Galaga, but you also have similar airplane shooters
such as Bosconian and Galaxian clogging the selections. Some
games also sport sequels, such as New Rally-X. Many of these
games are simply not varied enough to support their inclusion
in the game. And some games, such as Tower of Druaga, are simply
tedious at best, requiring nearly no skill to play and plenty
of patience to wade through the cavalcade of near-identical
Fortunately, Namco has not just rehashed their old properties.
They have also introduced a number of games that many have
yet to experience. Yet once again, only some of these games
still stand the test of time. Some try valiantly to inject
some life into the mix, but once again prove stale. This is
not to say that other new titles are all that bad; some may
enjoy playing them just to experience a mixed feeling of nostalgia
and discovery. Some games, such as Rolling Thunder, a side
scrolling shooter reminiscent of Shinobi, still look rather
nice for their age, though all the games are still as nail-bitingly
tough as you remember. Still, the variety in games is rather
nice, so you'll probably find something to like here.
Since many of these games were released in a time before widescreen,
you can adjust their appearance on the screen. Though some
games, such as Rolling Thunder, are better in widescreen, blowing
up these old games is only a painful reminder of their age,
as the 30-year-old resolution is made painfully clear. Still,
even at smaller settings, the PSP's screen makes the games
But if pure nostalgia isn't your thing,
there are also brand new versions of Pac Man, Dig Dug, Rally
X, and Galaga. Thankfully, Namco didn't stop with a mere
graphical tweaking; they have added brand new gameplay elements
to each game, such as bosses in Dug Dug and speed panels
in Pac Man. While they sound minor, these new tweaks can
change the gameplay entirely, and make tired old classics
fun and refreshing again. Watching the background change
from level to level in Galaga may not seem exciting, nor
would a "world selection" screen in Dig Dug be
very interesting, but the new graphics add a nice sense of
progression to these games. And yes, they are still quite addictive.
Finally, new multiplayer elements have been added to the mix.
You can choose to share with a friend in one of two ways. You
can either use the game sharing option to let them download
the first levels from 10 games, or play the new game arrangements
in their multiplayer modes. While the former is a good way
to let a friend try out the game, the latter is the meat of
the gameplay experience. The new Pac Man offers a multiplayer
mode like that seen in Pac Man Vs. for the consoles, as well
as a co-op mode, and the other games offer similar multiplayer
experiences. They are more along the lines of party games than
anything, good for a quick blast with some like-minded friends,
though this mode does require additional copies of the game.
The controls adapt quite well to the new games. You have the
option of using either the analog stick or directional buttons
in most games, though the directional pad offers better control
for these games, as many were created without 8-way functionality.
Other than that, the controls are quite competent and responsive,
but most of all, they are exceedingly simple (given the subject
Graphically, the ports are faithful to the original games,
so you may want to play these games in their native resolution.
The new arrangements have undergone a very nice graphical facelift,
though they do stick to the core gameplay. Sorry, no full 3D
Galaga. Some segments, however, are fully 3D, such as the new
Pac Man, and the backgrounds in Galaga, as opposed to the flat,
two-dimensional hand-drawn updates to Dig Dug and Rally X.
Really, the game isn't meant to be a feast for the eyes, but
it could have used some graphical reinventions for other titles
(more than four, at least).
All the classic boops and beeps of the arcade classics are
present in this compilation. The new arrangements also feature
slightly tweaked sound effects, though they are similar enough
to their older counterparts to have a charming, nostalgic feel.
Still, much like those many years ago, the sounds can simply
get on your nerves after awhile. It's hard to press a compilation
game for great sound, but once you get past the warm, fuzzy
memories of the arcades, the tinny sounds will have you reaching
for the volume faster than you can sing the Pac Man theme.
Overall, the game is mostly a crash-course in gaming history
for younger gamers, and a trip down memory lane for the grizzled
ancients. They do try to freshen up the action by introducing
newer games and arrangements, but many of the games don't hold
up with time, while some, including a few new ones, are just
plain awful in retrospect. There is still gameplay to be found
in many of the classics (some of which will get you hooked
all over again), and the arrangements are a nice touch, but
not enough to really justify a $40 price tag. The game definitely
could have used some other content, such as chronicles on the
makings of the classics, developer interviews, game histories,
etc. If you love compilations, pick this up immediately; you
will appreciate the new content and older classics. But if
you like your games epic and long-lasting, you may want to
pass this up. It's a fun little romp down memory lane for gamers
both old and new, but not much else.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
All of the older games are nearly perfectly
emulated, while the newer arrangements have a nice graphical
touch. Still, it's hard to give a good graphical score to decades-old
games, but I have to give kudos for the faithful ports.
Once again, nostalgia helps to justify
the faithful sound ports, but after a while, it can just get
irritating, or worse, stuck in your head.
While many of these games don't stand
the test of time, all the classics are still here in their
full glory. The arrangements are different enough to warrant
replaying your favorite classic franchises, while some older
content still holds up thanks to classically entertaining gameplay.
The games that had you hooked years
ago have come back to haunt you, and you may just find that
putting them back down is harder than you think. Multiplayer
is a blast, and the old quarter-munchers will keep you in
their steely grips… Minus all the lost cash, of course.