There’s no question that Nintendo Switch is sorely missing the Virtual Console program. Famously introduced with the Wii, and then continued onward with Wii U and all iterations of the 3DS, the silence left in its absence is deafening. Whatever lies in wait for the consumers, whether it be the whole buy-everything-again affair, a complete abandonment of the program in favor of an unappealing and expensive Netflix-like streaming service, it has created a big gap in what could otherwise be a very rich eShop library.
The newest addition to the Namco Museum series, this time for the Nintendo Switch, however, might just be the alleviation needed for the meantime.
This collection includes a medley of well-known and niche titles including Pac-Man (1980), Galaga (1981), Dig Dug (1982), The Tower of Druaga (1984), Sky Kid (1985), Rolling Thunder (1986), Galaga ’88 (1987), Splatterhouse (1988), Rolling Thunder 2 (1990), Tank Force (1991) and Pac-Man Vs. (2003)
Namco Museum goes a few steps further than simply loading up some ROM files and calling it a day. Each game has been updated to support save states, online leaderboards, and HD Rumble. Also supported are several customization options like the ability to rotate the screen 90 degrees (very useful for arcade-style games like Dig Dug and Pac-Man), adjust scanline intensity, tweak audio types, custom-map buttons, and a lot more. Outside of these software features, the game lacks Amiibo support for the Pac-Man Amiibo, which is a missed opportunity.
A big surprise in this collection, something I did not expect, is an optimized port of Pac-Man Vs., originally released for the Nintendo Gamecube in 2003. The up-to-4-player party game comes in two game mode flavors: first, a mode that pits up to three playable Ghosts against one Pac-Man player (this requires two Switch consoles), and second, a mode where up to 3 Ghost players try their best to catch an AI-controlled Pac-Man, or be eaten (only needs one Switch console).
Its inclusion serves as a great revival of a game obscure to most people; it’s nothing revolutionary, but shows a lot of potential as a drunk/hungover game with a group of friends; that is, if you can get over the fact that Nintendo’s own Mario serves as the game’s announcer throughout the entire thing.
Aside from Pac-Man Vs., all other games in the collection also feature a “Challenge Mode”. This new mode aims to change the games’ goal to the achievement of a high score within a set time limit, ignoring any other objectives you might have had in the original game. While this serves as a great bonus add-on, it makes me wish for a more offbeat and inventive collection of challenges like the ones in Nintendo’s NES Remix titles.
The price value of this collection really depends on how much you care about each individual game included within it. $30 isn’t bad considering the amount of games included here, but of course, I wish I could have simply bought the individual games. If you’re like me and only wanted one or two games included in the collection, it’s a high price, but sadly, it’s our only option until Nintendo announces a hopefully reasonable plan for the future and/or successor to the Virtual Console.