Review: Namco Museum Battle Collection (Sony PSP)

Genre: Anthology
Platform: PSP
Rating: E (Everyone)
Publisher: Namco
Developer: Namco
Release Date: 08/23/2005

It seems like there’s been an endless amount of Namco Museum games. We had multiple volumes on the Playstation, then the collected editions on the N64, PS2, GBA, and more…and they just keep on coming! Recently, the PSP got its own version known as Namco Museum Battle Collection. As the title states, the focus here is on battling friends, so let’s see how well that works out.


COMPILATION

As with past anthologies in the series, NMBC has quite an impressive roster. Many games here as exclusive to the US version, too…for once, we didn’t get screwed over! At any rate, here’s the list of classic arcade titles you’ll find in NMBC:

  • Pac-Man
  • Ms. Pac-Man
  • Galaxian
  • King & Balloon
  • Galaga
  • Rally-X
  • New Rally-X
  • Bosconian
  • Dig Dug
  • Dig Dug II
  • Xevious
  • Mappy
  • The Tower of Druaga
  • Dragon Buster
  • Grobda
  • Motos
  • Rolling Thunder

Plenty of genres are represented here, like platformers, racing games, shooters, adventure, and action. As if that list wasn’t impressive enough on its own, Namco strengthens the pack by adding “arranged” versions of Pac-Man, Dig-Dug, New Rally-X, and Galaga. These feature all-new graphics, sound, and added gameplay elements. While there’s only a few of these arranged titles, they’re a nice bit of polish on an already great collection of classics.

(Rating: 9/10)


GRAPHICS

Previous handheld editions of Namco Museum have often had their graphics squished and smushed to fit the handheld’s aspect ratio. No so with NMBC, unless you want it to. Each game in NMBC (except for the arranged versions) has multiple screen settings; original, stretched, and sometimes even vertical! This allows the player to get as close to the original arcade look as possible.

The arranged games feature heavily updated graphics, and Namco did an amazing job with them. These arranged games have appeared on other Namco Museum titles, but the PSP editions have been revamped yet again to set them apart. Every single arranged game looks very crisp and sharp; Dig Dug Arranged has fantastic hand-drawn backgrounds, Galaga Arranged has its background space station rendered beautifully, and so on. Even Pac-Man and his ghostly foes look smooth. NMBC is a treat for the eyes, even though the original games are quite simplistic by today’s standards. Sometimes, the sprites can be too tiny to see, due to the PSP’s high resolution. In those cases, you may want to stretch the screen, rotate it, or otherwise play with the display settings to find the one that works best for you.

(Rating: 8/10)


SOUND

Bleep. Bloop. Blip. Hey, back in the arcade days of yore, that’s about as much sound as you were likely to get! Those classic effects and limited music are recreated very faithfully in NMBC. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Naturally, the arranged games have much better music; most are remixes of classic Namco themes, like the everlasting Pac-Man theme.

(Rating: 7/10)


CONTROL & GAMEPLAY

I could go into detail about how each and every game in NMBC is played, but we’d be here for a week.

For the most part, the control in each game contained within NMBC is pretty tight. However, a few titles have some spotty controls, most noticably in Dig Dug Arrangement. Both the analog stick and the D-pad can be used for directional control in games that require it, and often, you’ll want to use the analog stick; it’s just closer to the original arcade joysticks of the past. Plus, it seems to just work better than the D-pad overall, and have less “glitches.”

Now, they wouldn’t have named this a battle collection for no reason. The games here have multiplayer modes, some more robust than others. With the classic games, many will just have you passing the PSP back and forth, trying to outdo each other’s high scores. The real battle magic takes place in the arranged games, were you can team up or fight against your peers.

There’s one more thing that’s a really nice touch in NMBC: autosave. This even works in the original arcade games. Not only will it save your high scores, but it’ll save your progress as well. Now you don’t have to restart your Tower of Druaga game all over again each time you play!

(Rating: 7/10)


REPLAYABILITY

Is this a joke? There’s a reason these games are called “classics.” It’s because regardless of their age, people want to play them over and over and over again. Do the math, Einstein. This is one of the single most addictive anthologies you can get.

(Rating: 10/10)


BALANCE

If there’s anything other than graphics and sound that really separate yesterday’s games from their modern counterparts, it’s the difficult. Games today are an absolute breeze compared to the old school stuff. Most of the games in NMBC prove that. While the brutal toughness of some of them may intimidate newcomers, longtime fans love it and take it in stride. The balance is completely thrown off, but that’s just how games were back then.

(Rating: 5/10)


ORIGINALITY

Hard to give originality points to something that’s almost completely made up of games from decades ago. The arranged versions deserve plenty of credit, though, especially since they differ from other arranged versions on previous Namco Museum compilations.

(Rating: 5/10)


ADDICTIVENESS

See “replayability” above. I challenge any gamer out there to not get addicted to at least one of the games contained in here. If nothing else, the legendary Pac-Man will suck you in and refuse to let go. “Just one more game…”

(Rating: 10/10)


APPEAL

Obviously, NMBC is meant to appeal to the retrogaming fans. However, by placing it on the PSP, which is the “hot new toy” for the younger gaming crowd, Namco’s position to game to appeal to a much wider audience. Very smooth on their part, and even if younger gamers don’t like the old games due to “crappy graphics,” they’ll love the arranged versions and multiplayer capability.

(Rating: 8/10)


MISCELLANEOUS

I’ll come right out and say it: NMBC has an awful lot of loading times. There’s the obvious startup one, but there’s also “now loading” screens each time you begin a game, exit a game, move to a new level, etc. It can get slightly annoying, but it’s not like they’re 30-second load times. It just takes a bit of getting used to.

In other news, you can send “demo versions” of the various games to other PSPs via the wireless function. This is rather pointless, though…you’re better off just letting someone borrow your PSP for a few second to check the games out on their own.

(Rating: 7/10)


Final Scores:

Compilation: 9/10
Graphics: 8/10
Sound: 7/10
Control & Gameplay: 7/10
Replayability: 10/10
Balance: 5/10
Originality: 5/10
Addictiveness: 10/10
Appeal: 8/10
Miscellaneous: 7/10

Overall Score: 76/100
FINAL SCORE: 7.5 (GOOD!)