Genre: Classics Collection
Publisher: Namco Bandai
Developer: Namco Bandai
Release Date: October 23, 2007
After releasing a whole bunch of newfangled titles in America and Japan such as Ace Combat 6 and Eternal Sonata, Namco Bandai has decided to make another contribution to the old-school market. Namco Museum Remix for the Wii is a blend of old arcade titles, with a few choice games altered or expanded for new audiences.
Of the 14 games available, five of the classics — Galaga, Gator Panic, Motos (affectionately renamed Pac-Motos in regard to the change of ball), Pac N' Roll and Rally-X — have been expanded and made playable with the Nunchuck alone. The other nine games are the ones that people remember from the late '80s and early '90s, but are playable in three different control styles: the Nunchuck, the Wiimote turned horizontally or the Wii classic controller. Of all the classic games, rarities like Super Pac-Man and Cutie-Q are quite the sight. My favorite of the oldies is Gaplus; it may seem like a Galaga clone, but there are multiple ships from which to fire, and "attack levels" have been introduced, allowing the opponent to strike back instead of entering formation.
For starters, each of the new games has some new smooth and colorful graphics, which is to be expected for such dated titles. The player can accurately shoot down targets using the crosshair in Galaga Remix, avoid the other racers in Rally-X Remix and gobble up the dots in Pac N' Roll Remix. Of course, it is nowhere near the graphical quality the Wii is capable of, with curved rendering and fluent color blending, but it doesn't need it. The games are remixed, not remastered as artwork. When every improved game features Pac-Man as its lead objective or character, though, it starts to get a little repetitive.
True to the word "remix," the sound coordinators have done a good job in changing the well-made arcade jingles with modifications and thematic additions. For example, the musical theme for Galaga Remix has a science fiction flair that suits the theme of shooting giant bugs in space. Sound effects are also colorful and inviting.
Pac N' Roll Remix is displayed as the hallmark of the remade games, as the "overworld" selection screen uses the controls essential to the game and provides a very simple tutorial. The game itself is reminiscent of Super Monkey Ball, without the mind-boggling, insane levels of physics required. Players use the Nunchuck to roll Pac-Man through the level, gobbling pellets and ghosts to reach a gate that opens after the requisite number of pellets has been collected. Bosses are simple, as collecting three power pellets (immediately recognizable as the larger, flashing dots) and smacking them three times will defeat them.
Rally-X Remix is the original game, with some power-ups and conditions to make things interesting, although it remains a little too easy. The radar still shows cars and flags, but it doesn't display rocks or power-ups, such as more fuel or more smoke screens, as the player is limited to five. It's great fun to avoid the red cars on the bigger tracks by triggering the boost and smoke screen. Passages are not as straight as they once were, with open "courts" and double lanes, so dodging the car at the outset gets more difficult. Despite the new limits it imposes, Rally-X Remix is inviting in a way that reminds the player of the differences yet maintains the original's replay factor.
Of all the games that have changed, Galaga Remix has undergone the biggest makeover. The title is essentially a shooting gallery with some defense, with the player firing at the oncoming bugs that fire at Pac-Man, who is traveling along a roller coaster-like pipe to an end platform. Although fast-paced, the original game was far more playable, as upgrades and self-preservation were paramount. The game doesn't require you to destroy every creature, but its shooting gallery system keeps track of those you do. A player doesn't feel the same urgency to protect Pac-Man as he would himself, and in some areas, the monsters sometimes move so quickly that you can't hit them. The change makes things nice and simple, but the original is a little more successful for a reason: Galaga is a foundation for vertical shooters, not a shooting gallery. However, the multiplayer aspect of the remixed version has promise, since four players are working together to protect Pac-Man while gaining an individual high score.
Gator Panic Remix is basically Whack-a-Mole using the Wiimote. I've played Namco's original constructed game with a large mallet and gators, and I can see that the remix is a faithful reproduction of the original. You get more points for hitting a gator more than once, and red gators give you two points, but the original premise is more fun because of the sights, sounds and smells of the fairground atmosphere, which cannot be replicated in a video game. I would rather visit an arcade or county fair than play this Wii version any day.
Pac-Motos involves playing bumper cars as Pac-Man on a tilting platform, and you must try to throw your opponents off the edge. The game has an item-distribution system that allows you to improve your chances before you play, but crashing into opposing spheroids reminds me of marble games and Marble Madness, which got old rather quickly since it was too difficult. This game has the opposite problem and is just too easy.
Namco Museum Remix is a collection of games that have been slightly altered to work with the Wii's innovative controls, but it's ultimately a simple title made for the enjoyment of the nostalgic masses. Some of the games are a little too simplistic, though at points, they can be challenging for players with pre-developed trigger fingers. It's a colorful and light-hearted offering that features its lead icon, Pac-Man, in every game. Anyone nostalgic for arcade greatness with a modern touch should find enjoyment in Namco Museum Remix. Anyone with a passing interest in the title — and that would be most people — should just rent it.
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