Review by SneakTheSnake

"Basking in its own glory - and its own obselecence."

Namco-Bandai, what's going on? We're cruising along well with Tekken 6 and Pac-Man Championship Edition DX. Dead to Rights Retribution, according to the critics, isn't too bad either. Your track record on the Wii, however, has been lackluster at best. Pac-Man Party? Active Life: Extreme Challenge? A port of Sky Kid? Granted, the Tales of Symphonia game for the Wii hasn't done too badly, and Klonoa was a fine product but a great deal of what you're doing for the Wii hasn't been filling any desired markets. The Namco Museum series has been run into the ground at this point, with a second game, the Megamix, barely different at all from the original, out now. Namco Museum Remix has a few good ideas going on for it. The product not only has some problems right out of the gate, but it has very little redeeming quality any more with all the content having just been re-released in a slicker, meatier volume.

Even taking this game's successor, Namco Museum Megamix, into consideration, it would be hard to recommend Namco Museum Remix for purchase. The interface is sloppy, the graphics and sound are last-gen, there's little replay value here and, most importantly, the value of the gameplay is negligible. Classic game compilations are just about everywhere these days, from individual downloadable titles to collections for the Playstation 3 which boast over sixty games to simply going to the mall and plopping in a few quarters. Any of these options would be more viable than purchasing Megamix.

Let's start off with the interface. After a clunky Save / Load screen, the game drops you as a rolling Pac-Man into Remix's game selection screen. This is more innovative than navigating through a series of cumbersome menus, but is it more effective? When Pac-Man controls like an oiled-up ball bearing on ice, no. There are Pac-dots to collect along the hills, bridges, ponds and banked curves of this creative selection screen, but does collecting them garner any extra merits? No; they're just cosmetic. Players will roll Pac-Man around the level to pick a game. There isn't even a museum in this Namco Museum.

A Wii optical disc features 4.7 gigabytes of space, or about 8.5 gigabytes on a dual layer. The original Pac-Man ROM is approximately seventeen kilobytes. Let's do some quick math: if the interface and any required graphics take up, say, 1.5 gigabytes (I'll be generous) and we're dealing with a 4.7 gigabyte disc. That leaves us with 3.2 gigabytes left. If every old Namco game is approximately 50 kilobytes, that means we could fit over sixty thousand Namco games on the disc. Why, then, do we only have eight original arcade games? And where are Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man on this compilation? What about Galaga? Dig Dug II? Pole Position, perhaps? The arcade machines are simply idle - one can't see original cabinet art, expository information about the games in question, nothing.

The "Remixed" games are a mixed bag. These are souped-up versions of original Namco classics, but many of them play nothing like their counterparts. Rally-X is about as exciting as a lawnmower race, Gator Panic is a Wii-wagglesome Whac-a-Mole clone, and Galaga is no longer a Space Invaders-esque shoot-'em-up requiring strategy and finesse to beat. It's a rail shooter, a simple rail shooter, which follows Pac-Man rolling inexplicably through space, whom players must protect from getting shot. None of these games are of especially poor quality, but they each exhibit myriad gameplay shortcomings, making them awkward or bothersome to play. Gator Panic Remix, for example, is functionally just fine, but whacking the gators becomes a pain in the arm very quickly, and the game tends to not let you know how many hits each gator needs before finally going down for the count.

Pac-n'-Roll Remix is the true meat and potatoes of the package, and it's not even an original. This is a DS port, folks, and it's not much of a good game to begin with - certainly not worth its current price for admission. The game follows Pac-Man rolling through several 3D mazes, much akin to Marble Madness. He still eats Power Pellets to eradicate ghosts, but they add Pellet Gates to the mix; Pac must devour a certain amount of pellets to pass through several gates in each stage. The game itself is challenging, not because of great level design, enemy placement or so on, but because of the controls. Pac can stop on a dime, fortunately - he still maneuvers like an inebriated sumo wrestler - but his speed boost / jump move is activated by a shake of the Wii Remote, and it's not always accurate.

Replay value is low, and the game, because of its unusual control issues, is unfair. If the game is requiring us to use the Nunchuk to control Pac through the mazes, Namco Bandai could have been merciful and allowed us to use a button to make Pac roll. Alas, the developers chose Wii waggle. Players must dash and zoom over ramps and around curves so much that it becomes painful and burdensome after just fifteen or twenty minutes with the little roller. The game demands more careful movement than the controls allow, leading to a lot of cheap deaths in Pac's unusual quest. The boss battles are just the same, but on a grander scale.

The one redeeming Remix I could find in the package was, strangely, Pac-Motos. It's a very basic vehicle combat game that sees Pac riding around in a small car, trying to bump other racers off the board. It's simple and charming, the controls and physics are easy to get a grasp on, and the gameplay works great, even with the boss battles with giant Pac-Man ghosts. If, however, I can only find one redeeming remix in a game with "Remix" in the title, then that speaks volumes about the overall quality of Namco Museum Remix.

If anything, the graphics and sound are competent, if not very primitive. These are high-res PS2 graphics at best; they're colorful and bright, but not very detailed. A lot more effort could have been put into the graphical presentation and the clunky interface. Sound-wise, there are no truly memorable tunes or noteworthy aural accomplishments to speak of in this compilation - it will simply go in one ear and out the other.

Bottom line? The interface, games, graphics, sound, gameplay and everything else has already been ripped out of Namco Remix and repackaged, with a few more games, just recently, as Namco Museum Megamix. Even then, there still isn't a Namco Museum with the superlative "Arrangement" games, like Dig Dug Arrangement and Pac-Man Arrangement, and Namco Bandai didn't even think of throwing Wii owners a bone and including some of their superior arcade remakes like Pac-Man Championship Edition. Namco Museum Remix is a sorry excuse for a game compilation, and I would only purchase this as a gag gift or to someone whose gaming expectations don't include quality, content or true longevity.


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 12/03/10

Game Release: Namco Museum Remix (US, 10/23/07)


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