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.

Don't mind the glare
Using a standard phone/tablet stand I already had, this setup worked out really well.

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).

Single console version of ‘Pac-Man Vs.’

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.

‘Splatterhouse’ in Challenge Mode. Fun fact: This is the first appearance of ‘Splatterhouse’ on a ‘Namco Museum’ title. As a result, this is the first ‘T’-rated title in the series.

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.

  • Brent Middleton

    I think the Switch Netflix-like service could be cool, having a selection of retro games to cycle through whenever you want. Especially with NES games, it’d make more sense not having to buy them individually if most people will just play with them for an hour or so before moving on. And $20 per year for the service is far from “expensive.”

    On another note, Namco Museum is $30, not $20. I think that’s a tough sell. Namco could’ve really added more to this package to justify that price tag.

    • Maxwell N

      Thanks for the correction on the typo there, I have updated the article!

      As for my personal opinion on why I think a streaming service is more expensive and less convenient in the long run: it adds up, and is not consumer friendly compared to how they had it before. Plus, unless Nintendo allows us to download ROMs onto our Switch consoles to play offline any time instead of streaming online, it creates two very big issues 1. lag, which is a ridiculous thing to be facing when you could otherwise just download a 30KB file 2. it would require an internet connect, which defeats the purpose of a semi-portable console that only has WiFi/Ethernet options.

      Additionally, at this point we are not certain if the $20/y online service that was said to also include some ROMs apparently. Nintendo has recently went back on their previous statements and claiming amnesia when asked about Virtual Console (I linked to an instance of this from a Kotaku interview).

      Let’s say the service is tied into the $20/m Nintendo sub, which I doubt, but if you have no interest in online gaming, you’d be paying $20/y to play old ROM files (which you might have already paid for 3 or 4 times, I might add, on previous consoles), and would have to keep using the service if you ever wanted to play that game again. What if I only wanted to play Super Mario Bros. or, I don’t know, Nuts & Milk? I’d end up paying more, having an inconvenient experience because of the reasons I mentioned before etc. instead of being able to either transfer my purchases from Wii U or re-buy again at a cost that would be lower than paying for a $20/y service to be able to replay the game if I ever chose to. And, additionally, if the service is like Netflix with a rotating library, you would be pressured to finish a game as fast as possible (which isn’t fun), and possibly not able to replay it again if it becomes unavailable.

      Now, I don’t think this streaming service, if it even exists, will be included with the $20/y subscription. I can see it as an add-on, or a separate service. Which only amplifies what I said in the series paragraph, and makes it an even less-enticing “deal”.