Friday, May 31, 2013

Video Game Review: Namco Museum Remix for Wii

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: The nine classic games are as fun as I remember them being
Cons: The "Remix" games are too simple and boring
The Bottom Line:
Lesser known classics
Are only reason to buy
Boring remixes

The Classics Are Great.  The Remixes are Only Okay.

I love the classic arcade games I grew up with, so one of the first purchases I made for my Wii was the Namco Museum Remix.  This game for the Wii has 5 updates of classic games (called remixes) and 9 games from the 80's video arcade.  While the new games aren't all that great, the classics are fun to play again.

Remix Titles

The remixes are all attempts to update some classics, take advantage of the Wii's unique controllers, and give us more of their best known star, Pac-Man.  He appears in all 5 of the games.

Galaga Remix is the weirdest of the bunch only because I don't see how it applies to the original.  Pac-Man is rolling down a track in space, and we have to keep invading aliens from hurting him.  We've got a target on the screen that we move by moving the Wii controller, and we hit the aliens when we fire when they are in the cross hairs.  We have no real control over Pac-Man, and there are times we're shooting at aliens without any sight of our hero.  The video is pretty impressive as it zooms through the various levels.

Pac'N Roll Remix finds Pac-Man eating his way through various 3D levels as he tries to pick up enough energy pellets to leave the level while avoiding the ghosts.  The levels are actually pretty simple, it's not that hard to finish them.

Remember those machines where you have a mallet and are trying to hit gators as they come out from a hole?  That's the premise of Gator Panic Remix.  You are Pac-Man and are trying to hit the gators before they bite your friend the turtle.  It's amusing for a game or two, however, the gators will still bite the turtle even if you've hit them, so by the end when all four are out at once, it gets hard to keep him from being bitten.

Pac-Motos finds us as Pac-Man trying to knock other objects off the playing field without falling off ourselves.  Most of the levels are pretty basic until you get to the boss level.  Even with the power ups, they're almost impossible to defeat.

The final Remix is my favorite.  Then again, I always loved the original Rally-X.  This time around, Pac-Man is driving and we steer him as he tries to collect all the flags on a course without crashing into the cars chasing him or the rocks on the maze.  Some levels require us to collect them in a certain order, while others are the traditional collect in any order you can.  The controls on this one are a little hard, but I remember that on the original as well.

Remix Thoughts

A large part of me wonders if this part of the game is aimed at kids instead of adults.  Most of the games seems remarkably easy.  You start each level with three lives and just start that level over if you lose them all.  Usually, I can move on with only dying once.  Twice means I really wasn't trying that hard.

The graphics are another thing that makes me thing these are aimed at kids.  They are very cartoony in nature.  Now I know the classics they are based on weren't the best in the way of graphics, especially by today's standards.  But they seem pretty childish.

The sounds are pretty basic as well.  There are sound effects and music, but nothing super impressive.  Since the games are simple, that actually works for me.

Most of these games require the use of the Wii remote and the Nunchuk.  The controls are easy to intuitive, however, they aren't always easy to master.  I mentioned how finicky they can be on the Rally-X Remix already.  On Pac'N Roll, it takes a lot of work to get Pac-Man to roll where you want him to in the 3D environment.

Several of these games do include multi-player versions, but I haven't subjected any of my friends to them.

If the game stopped here, I would probably recommending you miss this game.  But the classics.  Ah, my old friends.

Carnival Arcade (The Classics)

I should start out by pointing out what you will not find here.  They don't include the original Pac-Man or Ms. Pac-Man.  But I do enjoy the games included.

My favorite is a little known game called Mappy.  You are a mouse detective trying to recover stolen items from some cats.  You have to bounce from level to level collection the items without being touched.  For the simple premise, it is remarkably addicting.

Right up there is Dig Dug.  Here, you are a guy trying to either plow up monsters or squash them in their under ground lair.  Simple yet so addictive.  I would play this by the hour on my Atari 2600, and here it is no different.

While we don't get the original Pac-Man, we do get three different versions.  My favorite is Super Pac-Man.  Here, we're eating food on a maze with doors we have to unlock before we can get to the food.  That adds an extra level because sometimes you can get trapped by just one ghost.  In addition to the power pellets, we get two super pellets that let us crash through barriers and fly over the ghosts.

Easily as addicting is Pac-Mania, an early 3D version of the classic that lets us jump over ghosts.

Rounding out the Pac-Man games is Pac&Pal.  We're trying to eat fruit after matching it, and we have some different ways to harm the ghosts.  To be perfectly honest, I haven't quite figured this one out completely.  I usually play the other two instead.

We've got two Space Invader clones here.  The more well known is Galaxian.  It and Gaplus are fairly similar as the aliens not only shoot but dive bomb us.  They're fun, although we probably really only needed one of them.

Cutie-Q is a cross between pinball and Breakout.  You've got a pad you use to keep a ball on the play field as it rolls over stuff and clears the area at the top.

Rounding out this section is Xevious, an early mission game where we have to shoot planes and tanks as we fly through enemy territory.

Carnival Arcade Thoughts

These are the games I actually play.  They are pretty much imports from the arcade version, so if you are already familiar with the game, you can still beat it here.  My Mappy skills are just as good as ever, for example.  The games I wasn't familiar with before I started, I do poorly at.  But the harder I work, the better I get.

If you need your joystick to make this work, you can use the Nunchuk to control things.  Or you can turn the Wii Remote around the use the buttons and plus pad to control things.  I use both, depending on the game and what feels natural to me.  The controls in this part are surprisingly responsive.  As much as I'd like to blame things on them, usually my deaths are the result of my poor decisions and lack of skill.

The graphics are faithful to the original arcade versions.  That means they definitely look dated, especially the "3D" of Pac-Mania.  However, I love them because they remind me of the games I loved to play.  Likewise, the sound is the familiar arcade music and effects.  Honestly, you could turn the volume down and not miss much.

Final Thoughts

I bought this game for the classic games, and on that front I am not disappointed.  When I pull this game out, they are what I play almost exclusively.  I had hoped the new versions would be fun, and they left Rally-X alone enough that it is still fun.  The others are just too easy to be much fun.

So if you like the lesser known classics mentioned here or classics in general, it is worth it to get Namco Museum Remix.  Otherwise, don't let the lower price trick you into buying a game you won't spend much time playing.

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