Just by the name of this title, we can tell exactly what Namco Museum Remix is: a collection of titles from Namco's retro library with a few "remixed" titles. There are 14 games in all: five remixed titles and nine classic ones. I'll touch on each briefly, but first, the menu interface. Well, if you can call it a menu. It's actually a repurposing of the Pac'n Roll Remix game to allow you to roll the old Pacster about a central hub, ringed by the entrances to the various remixed games and the arcade filled with the classic ones, not to mention participate in a few diversionary activities within the hub itself. And since the remixed Pac'n Roll is obviously the focus of this collection, let's dive right in.Pac'n Roll Remix
I have to admit to not remembering the original well, but what we have here is Pac-Man, rolling around in some bright, interestingly themed worlds, collecting pellets — power pellets — which perform the traditional function of letting the old Pacster eat ghosts, some power-ups, such as armor or a winged helm, all while avoiding ghosts or trying to figure out how to beat boss creatures. So, it's basically a 3D Pac-Man platformer. Pac-Man, of course, can't jump, but he can boost, which will allow him to catch some serious air off inclines or get up inclines that he doesn't have the momentum to handle with normal movement. All Pac-Man is really trying to do is get to the goal of each level, but there are gates in his way that require certain numbers of pellets to open, and really, that's the whole point. The game is addictive but a bit frustrating due to the needing to use the environment and the wild boosting mechanic for jumping. Be warned the camera is on rails and rarely situated behind you to where you can effectively line yourself up.Galaga Remix
About the only thing this remix has in common with Galaga is the enemies are inspired by the designs of the enemies from that classic game. What we have here is an on-rails pointer shooter (which I differentiate from a gun game, since the Wii-mote's pointing capabilities are used to move a targeting indicator rather than using the direct marksmanship capabilities of a true light gun) in which the rails are quite literal. Your buddy Pac-Man is rolling along them through the galaxy, getting harassed by the hordes from Galaga, which you're tasked with keeping off our main yellow man's back.
This is actually a very enjoyable game — not terribly deep or long, but fun while it lasts. The controls work just fine. It's not terribly difficult. It's easy on the eye. And you get to blow up stuff. You don't even have to bother with moving the Pacster around. He handles that just fine for you. Just blow up stuff. Do we understand each other?Pac-Motos Remix
This game is like Pac'n Roll with Pac-Man, in 3D, rolling around on a playing field suspended high above a colorful backdrop, trying to smash other critters over the edge. Sure, there are lots of variations and power-ups, and the fact that, if it takes too long, you get meteors streaking in to pop sections out of the field, just to hurry things along, but the game is just that simple. Good fun in small doses, though probably the best thing for me is that when you beat a level, you're treated to the oh-so-brief victory theme from Soul Calibur. Enjoy.Rally-X Remix
Here we have antagonistic racecars in a maze, though your car is driven by Pac-Man, so the maze and collection aspect of the game makes slightly more sense. You're in the maze with another car that would like to ram you. You can boost your speed, lay down a smokescreen or break to a stop to confound this guy. Your goal is to collect all the flags in the maze before he gets you. It's kind of a slow-paced game, especially considering it involves racecars, but you wouldn't want it to go any faster. The twitchy controls and the very zoomed-in point of view that necessitates the use of a little radar map in the corner make it almost impossible to play.Gator Panic Remix
This is basically whack-a-mole, er, gator and not a very well-implemented version. You are, for some reason, a turtle, and there are four tunnels, central (neutral), left, right and up that gators keep coming out of. They would like to bite you, but you whack them to make it stop. OK, you're probably expecting this by now, but you're whacking them with Pac-Man. Exactly. He's hovering over the proceedings, taking direction from the turtle on where and when to lay the smackdown. You choose the spot using the nunchuk's thumbstick and the whack by swinging the remote. This doesn't work well, and it's quickly tiring. Give this one a whack or two and then move along.Galaxian
This is one of the two classic games in this collection that we're used to seeing. It's usually used in the same sentence with Galaga, the much better and wildly more popular game from Namco using the same basic concept. You have a ship that can slide side to side at the bottom of the screen. The nasty aliens have an armada at the top of the screen that hovers about at the top of the screen for you to shoot at, except they will come down at you in singles and small groups in an attempt to shoot you if they can or ram you if they must. A very early take on this formula, Galaxian does not have much to recommend it, even among its fellow classic games.Dig Dug
This is the other classic game in this collection that seems to show up in every such collection. Dig Dug is, I guess, a miner who can carve out tunnels. In the ground, existing in sealed pockets, are some odd creatures, like these weird little guys wearing big goggles and some things that look like cute — but still fire-breathing — dragons. Your job is to tunnel over to each and then, launching some sort of air line attached to a pump you have on your person, you're suppose to pump up each creature till it explodes. To make matters even weirder, at certain points, the creatures will get tired of waiting for you and sort of turn into ghosts or something similarly intangible and kind of fly through the earth to either get to a tunnel and you or get to the surface and escape. If you've never heard of Dig Dug, you have to try it. It's part of the retro cannon, after all, though I am wondering how it managed that trick when there are some other games in this collection that I had either never heard of or at least had never gotten the chance to play before that are much better than Dig Dug.Mappy
Mappy is a mouse who also is a cop trying to grab a bunch of stuff — like multiple copies of the Mona Lisa or some massive ghetto blasters — before cat burglars (yes, cats who also are burglars) can steal them. The play area looks like a side view of an enormous (but apparently quite flat) house, six stories high with the floor separated into three columns. In between the columns, and at either end, are trampolines at various heights. Neither Mappy nor the cats have any means of jumping or changing floors other than using these trampolines, and if the cats touch Mappy, he's dead, unless they both happen to be flying through the air using the trampolines. To make things more complicated, there are doors on the floors that you can open and close, but of course, so can the cats. Opening a door into a cat can knock the cat out of commission, and the odd glowing door supposedly emits a wave of microwaves that will clear any cat on that floor in the direction the wave goes. (I know, very odd, but the attract screen specifically says its microwaves.) All in all, it's a nice little mouse and cat game.Xevious
This is an early upward scrolling shooter. Its gimmick is that your craft possesses two weapons. One is the usual forward-firing weapon to take on other craft that fly against you. The other is a ground assault weapon for which you have a crosshair that hovers ahead of your ship for aiming purposes. This you use against the various ground installations, tank-like mechanisms and boss thingies that will stand in your way. Not a fill-the-skies-with-bullets sort of shooter but certainly one you will need to learn the patterns for in order to progress. Hardcore, old-school shooter junkies will have a blast with Xevious, and the rest of us ... well, it's fun to see how long you can survive before you explode.Gaplus
OK, now this is just a great retro game. It's obviously in the same line as Galaxian and Galaga but is visibly newer, and it packs in so many new gameplay elements that it makes a pretty large leap in entertainment value over even the already good Galaga. I really can't believe I'd never heard of this game before seeing this collection.
You've got the usual ship at the bottom, armada at top configuration, but this one builds from Galaga, which already was a huge step beyond Galaxian, which I talked about above. In Galaga, the leader enemies would try to tractor beam your ship in, which if you had any extra lives, you would want to happen so that when your next ship came up, you could blast the enemy leader and get your old ship back, concurrent with your new one, doubling your firepower. In Gaplus, you shoot the leader, just whenever. He's carrying a device that lets you tractor beam in not just one, but several enemies that then become extensions of your firepower. The other major change is that not only can you move your ship side to side, but also up and down. Beyond that, there are lots of new enemies, surprises, behavior patterns and changes in the way the levels work beyond the basic "kill the armada" configuration, including levels in which you appear to be flying forward instead of just hanging static. It's very easy to move up the screen but harder to move back while hordes of enemies warp in and fly their patterns through your space. The first time I hit one of those levels, I grinned so big I thought my head might split in half.Super Pac-Man
Just like the name says, this is Pac-Man, only, erm, super, I suppose. In Super Pac-Man, they've removed the normal pellets as the goal for clearing a level, replacing them with fruits that are locked behind barriers. The keys for the barriers are in the open part of the maze, and when Pac-Man passes over them, their associated barrier disappears. The power pellets are still there, though they're locked behind barriers now, along with super power pellets that cause Pac-Man to become super, about four times his usual size. Super Pac-Man can't eat ghosts, though the ghosts seem to cower when they see him. What he can do is smash through the barriers without needing the keys. Super Pac-Man is a decent variation and worth a look if you like Pac-Man at all.Pac & Pal
This is just another Pac-Man game in which the maze is filled with areas that are walled off but have fruit or other items inside them. In the open maze, there are cards that, when passed over, open the walled sections one at a time. The ghosts are there as usual, but you've also got a "pal" out there, a little green guy with feet who seems like he might work for the ghosts because the big meanies don't hassle him, and he tries to get to the unlocked fruit before you do and takes it back to the ghosts' box in a roundabout sort of way, unless you manage to pick his pocket first. I found this game to be a bit claustrophobic, but if you really like the Pac-Man thing (not to mention are reasonably good at it) Pac & Pal will probably eat a couple of your hours.Pac-Mania
This is an easy one. Take Pac-Man, make the playing field isometric and allow Pac-Man to jump. On the plus side, if you can play Pac-Man, you can play this, since the maze layouts are identical, even if they don't look much like the original Pac-Man. You can even play it just like you did the old game, without using the new jump functionality at all. On the downside, the isometric camera is zoomed in quite a bit, apparently just to emphasize the 3D-ness of the design, so you can really only see about one-fourth of the maze at a time, so it's hard to plan around the ghosts' movements. To smooth that out, they made the game slower, added alerts that let you know when a fruit has appeared and then — for last ditch saves because you had no idea that all five ghosts were boxing you into that corner &,mdash; they added the jump button.Cute Q
This is a combination of pinball and wall-breaking in which you get a jittery white dot, all confined within a launch area and then "serve" it out into the playing field that has a block wall at the top and some interesting other items littered about. If you like wall-breakers and feel like sliding your dual paddles around to keep the white dot in play for awhile, this is your game.
So this is one of the more interesting retro collections out of Namco in recent years, giving us at least a couple of decent remixes and the opportunity to play a few titles that most of us have never seen. However, it's disappointing that this collection isn't significantly larger, especially since it's missing most of the core Namco titles. I mean, what is a Namco retro collection without Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga? Well, it's a collection of old games and a grab bag of new games based on old games. It's difficult to understand the business case for a collection like this to make it to retail given the ease of download distribution these days. At least a couple of the games here would do well as Virtual Console downloads (not to mention several of the expected games that are missing from this collection). Namco Museum Remix is certainly worth a quick rental, but given that this is THE Namco Museum release for the Wii, so far, it's questionable if it's worth a full-price purchase since it's lacking all of the quality staple Namco retro titles, and most of the ones presented here (with a couple of notable exceptions) basically amount to filler.