There is no new thing under the sun. So too does this old maxim apply to Gaming Hell. If you're one of the old guard, the really long-term readers, you may remember the writer used to post stuff on Retro Collect, much in the same style of the bilge we smash together here but generally shorter and even worse, somehow, but as well as reviews there'd be more gaming lore-type things. So, this bit of Let's Gaming Tat is basically the same concept as one of those gaming history articles- A Guided Tour of the Namco Museum, which was originally posted on the 16th of December 2010- but completely rewritten to be something other than a steaming pile of written dung. If you want, you can read the original over here with the proviso that it's shit. Terrible. Just a complete trashfire. This one though? Much better. Well, probably. Please enjoy this completely pointless article.

Welcome, welcome! Lucky, you are the 765th visitor to the Namco Museum. Let's give you a guided tour, shall we?

Retro game collections tend to go through phases of popularity. There was a mild surge of them in the mid-to-late '90s on the Playstation and Saturn, a huge spate of them in the Playstation 2 / Gamecube / Xbox era, then they started to wind down a bit during the HD console era and change gears- experimenting with downloadable retro rereleases, HD remasters and the rare big collection- and now individual rereleases of old games, such as Hamster's Arcade Archives series and M2's Sega Ages games, often with limited online support, seem to be the way to go, but there are still collections out there like Sega Mega Drive Classics and the excellent SNK 40th Anniversary Collection. One thing that has definitely improved over time is the quality of them, for the most part anyway- moving from porting to more advanced emulation tech means that, when in the right hands, these rereleases can make the original games more accessible than ever and available to play without the original hardware. That does mean that some of the older collections, even relatively recent ones such as the PS2 / GC / Xbox sets, have their inaccuracies and flaws made far more apparent, relegating some of them from the best ports to curiosities for die-hards or for those who aren't too fussy.

This is somewhat the case for today's subject, the Namco Museum series on the Playstation, but they're by far the most interesting and curious of the lot. Primarily developed, it would appear, by consistent Namco collaborators Now Production (Volumes 1, 3, 4 and Encore) and some kind of involvement by TOSE (Volumes 2 and 5), this was a six-volume series of releases (only five making it outside of Japan) from 1995 (Volume 1's release in Japan) to 1998 (Volume 5's release in Europe) gathering together a minimum of five and a maximum of seven of Namco's classic arcade games per volume, focused primarily on their '80s output. Roughly around this point in time, emulation of arcade games on console was certainly doable- Jeff Vavasour worked on many of the Atari, Williams and Midway collections worked on at the time using emulation. However, the Namco Museum games take a somewhat different approach as explored briefly by, uh, Jeff Vavasour in a letter to Next Generation Magazine, being closer to a port of the game rather than direct emulation, using some original game assets and code but plenty of custom-made work too beyond obvious things like menus and Memory Card support. As a result, they're not necessarily the best versions- earlier volumes, especially Volume 1, have more obvious inaccuracies, and even Encore has some idiosyncrasies for games like Wonder Momo- but these versions also have slight additions, alterations and extra features that perhaps don't make up for those inaccuracies, but do make them of interest to Namco fans.

Beyond the games themselves though, perhaps the most important aspect of these collections is the Museum of the title. While you're free to access each game from a simple menu on the title screen (and, in later volumes, a quick menu that appears after you quit a game), you're really here to explore the Namco Museum itself, with the friendly robo-receptionist Uketsuke Komachi (who is indeed real, can be seen in this documentary meeting Clive James and is still employed to this day) letting you register your details at the front desk. From there you move around in a 3D space like a first-person shooter (initially you can only interact with hot-spots, walk at two different speeds and look up, but later instalments let you strafe as well) and explore the museum, with each game having its own room complete with specific theming and music to accompany the game's cabinet (usually a cocktail model) as well as pre-room galleries that contain promotional material like flyers and pop-stands, arcade PCB scans, plus sprite galleries and game tips. These rooms are pretty basic at the start, but later volumes include more interactive elements and even secrets! These make the Namco Museum games unique amongst retro collections, with almost no other similar sets trying anything nearly as elaborate, before or since (beyond window-dressing like the bedroom in Sega Mega Drive Classics) and so, I think having a look at them- not really a review, just a little tour of these collections and the museums therein- would be of interest. There'll be links to the GameFAQs page to each one for some of the cheat codes for the hidden games too, so everything's nice and properly sourced. So please remember, no smoking in the museum, no hot food, be sure to read the signs about which exhibits you're allowed to touch, and let's begin!

Volume 1 (1995 in Japan, 1996 in the US and Europe) contains...



New Rally-X



Pole Position

Toy Pop

Rally-X has a secret, from this site:
Pause the game, then mash the D-Pad and press L1 and R1 repeatedly to be taken to an 'Omake Mode' screen that lews you select a difficulty setting.

Pole Position replaces the Fuji track with the Namco track due to rights issues, and the billboards have all been replaced.

This is the first volume, so heavy-hitters Pac-Man and Galaga pretty much had to be there. Rally-X of both the vanilla and New variety and Pole Position are also Namco standards, but Pole Position (which is altered from the original to swap out some of the billboards) definitely has a problem with controls- its steering wheel has always been incredible sensitive, and this makes it very difficult to play with any kind of proper control on a standard Playstation pad. This port does however have compatibility with Namco's twisty controller oddity, the NegCon, which I imagine is a much smoother experience, so if you're lucky enough to have one of those, use it for this! There's also Bosconian which perhaps isn't quite as well-remembered as its peers, but is a neat little space action game requiring you to hunt down enemy bases and blow 'em up. This makes the remaining title this volume's oddball choice- it's Toy Pop, a rather unusual top-down action game with vague similarities to Gauntlet but takes its own approach (no scrolling mazes, enemies that have to be taken out with specific weapons, an objective beyond hunting for the exit). Probably because it was the first volume and had many recognisible classics, this one was one of only two volumes to receive a Greatest Hits reprint in the US.

As for the museum itself, this one sets a series of standards for the subsequent volumes to follow and, more importantly, improve upon- this is pretty basic. This starts with the games themselves, missing some key features implemented later- you have to alter options by actually messing with each game's dip-switches (which forces a reset) and you can't reset mid-game, you have to wait until you're back in the attract mode to do that. After leaving the bare reception area (hosted by Uketsuke Komachi, who lets you register your name for saving scores and stats, a role reprised for every Museum game on PS1) you're greeted with the main museum hall, a simple circular room with a dome and seven doors, one for each game plus the Lounge. Before you get to the game rooms themselves, there's a simple corridor in the style of a real-life museum that holds viewable exhibits for each game like flyers and pop-up displays, plus a sprite viewer and How to Play and Tips sections (which, unfortunately, are way too short and translated a little strangely so they're not as helpful as they could be). Each game room itself has some basic decorations based on the game plus a 3D cabinet (usually a cocktail model) to play on, and some are very barren- Toy Pop is literally in a white void- but again these would be iterated upon in later volumes. Finally, there's the Lounge where various extras are held- as well as a generously-stocked bar, there's the Staff Roll for the game, the Namco Official History that lists all their arcade releases up to that point (well, most of them), the Jukebox for listening to music from all the games on the collection, the Data Note that records each registered player's stats in all the games plus some extra galleries. In every volume in these galleries you have cover scans from NG Namco Community Magazine, a quarterly and later monthly magazine from Namco themselves with interviews and information on their latest games, so this one comes with Volumes 1 to 14, covering 1983 to 1986. There's also scans of an Amusement Machines flyer that you sadly can't zoom in on (but you can see most of it on The Arcade Flyer Archive if you want) and photos of non-video game Namco products like some of their robots.

Volume 2 (1996 in Japan, the US and Europe) contains...

Super Pac-Man





Dragon Buster

Dragon Buster has a secret:
The original arcade game allowed you to insert more coins to replenish your health bar.
To replicate this here, press Select on the title screen before starting to insert coins, then press L1 and R1 when your vitality is below at least 33.

Grobda has a secret:
Hold L1, L2, R1 and R2 then press Start on the title screen for a Stage Select.

The Japanese version has two exclusive games:

Bomb Bee

Cutie Q

Cutie Q replaces Super Pac-Man in the Japanese version, although it is still present in the US / EU code.
To unlock Bomb Bee, start Cutie Q and press Circle seven times, Square six times, and Cross five times as the game boots up.

The game selection here is the only time there's a regional difference with game choice in the series. Cutie Q (and the secret Bomb Bee) were most likely cut because while there was an English release of the earlier Gee Bee by Gremlin, it would seem neither of these games were released outside Japan and they both require a special controller (bundled with special copies of the game) for analogue control, so Namco probably figured it wasn't worth the trouble. Additionally, subbing them with Super Pac-Man gave Namco the ever-marketable yellow orb boy to list among the available games on the cover. It's a shame because they're quite novel Breakout / pinball hybrids and having a paddle controller to play them with makes them unique.

Other than those, there's two famous games here, Mappy and Xevious (the importance of the latter in Japanese arcades at the time cannot be understated) plus the less well-known but interesting Dragon Buster (a milestone platformer from early 1985 with double-jumping, a health bar and collectible equipment) and excellent obscurities Grobda (a strange arena battle game with shield mechanics and massive explosions, starring one of the enemies from Xevious) and Gaplus (also known as Galaga 3 but not well-distributed, basically Galaga, But More of It). Perhaps not as chock-full as the previous volume with games that a Western audience would be particularly clamouring for home ports of, but it's a solid selection of games you might want to spend some time with, and we'll see more crowd-pleasers in the next one.

The museum is basically the same as the one present in Volume 1 with the same relatively plain presentation and generic pre-game rooms. Some of the game rooms themselves are a tiny bit more elaborate- there's a series of cardboard cutouts running around the rafters in the Mappy room and the Dragon Buster room is a moody cave with monsters lurking behind a cavernous display, but that's it really. The only real addition is that most of the veritcal-screen games have neat background art for the score display that you can toggle on or off, but otherwise this is the same- the next few installments gradually add some much-needed features to the series, but we don't see them here yet. Some content was switched out for the Lounge though, as it now has the covers of NG Community Magzine Volumes 15 to 28, covering 1986 to 1987 as Vol. 15 was when they started doing monthly issues instead (as a bonus, many of these monthly issues are readable on archive.org) and special art galleries for Dragon Buster and Xevious- games getting their own little art galleries would become more of a thing later on.

Volume 3 (1996 in Japan, 1997 in the US and Europe) contains...


Ms. Pac-Man

Dig Dug

Pole Position II


The Tower of Druaga

Galaxian has three secrets:
* Clear Round 9 to unlock a 'Rank' option to change the difficulty to Hard.
* Score over 30,000 points then switch Dip Switch #6 to ON to play in Ghost Trail / Psychadelic Mode.
* Insert 32 credits, then hold Select and press Start to play in Turbo Mode.

Pole Position II has two secret tracks:
Switch Dip Switch #1 on the left bank to ON then press Cross (US / EU) / Circle (JP) on the new Course option on the menu. The Namco and Test tracks will now be completely different.
Also,the Fuji and Suzuka tracks are replaced with the Namco and Wonder tracks due to rights issues, and the billboards have all been replaced.

There are also two hidden versions of The Tower of Druaga:

Another Tower
(1996 / 1997)

Darkness Tower
(1996 / 1997)

To unlock Another Tower, enter the pre-game room for The Tower of Druaga. Hold L1 and R1 and make a clockwise motion on the d-pad three times to make the Pick Axe item from the game appear at the bottom of the screen. Go up to the brick wall you see in front of the exit back to the museum and Pac-Man will yell at you to interact with it, so do so. You can go through the wall to see a fight scene between Gil and Druaga (wait long enough and the Blue Crystal Rod and Ruby Mace will appear- interact with them to help Gil win the fight) and another cabinet, containing the Another Tower version of the game. This version of the game has the treasures in the same order, but with different maze layouts and treasure reveal conditions (including one where you need to pop open the Playstation's CD lid!) but is distinct from Another Tower found in the Famicom and Game Boy ports. Abandon all hope, ye who enter this tower.

To unlock Darkness Tower, start a game in Another Tower, go to the Dip Switch menu via Test Mode and switch #4 to ON, then return to Game Mode and insert a coin. Press X, Right, Circle, Down, Square, Left, R1, L1, R2 then L2 and the title screen will change colour, allowing you to play the Darkness Tower. Beyond new mazes and treasure reveal methods, the Darkness Tower adds new enemies and even new treasures such as a Platinum Pick Axe and Book of Slimes, and is even harder than the other versions. May God have mercy on your soul, for Namco will not.

The Japanese version has some exclusive items in the Library:
Vols. 1 - 14 of 午後の国 / Gogo no Kuni plus the Valentine's Day special by Hiroshi Fuji (artist for the Valkyrie games), printed in NG Magazine.

Here we go, three pivotal arcade classics right off the bat! Galaxian and Dig Dug are absolutely the kind of games that show up most Namco collections with good reason (although most would go to Galaga first, which is fair). Ms. Pac-Man is also considered the definitive golden-age Pac-Man game but she appears on collections less and less these days due to ongoing legal troubles (Namco doesn't really own the game, it's a mess) and while Pole Position II is here, like the original it's just barely controllable on the standard PS1 pad. I imagine the inclusion of The Tower of Druaga was a big deal in Japan- it was the first time it was rereleased for quite some time, and certainly the first close-to-arcade version to hit the home- but less so in the West. The true odd one out on both sides of the pond this time is Phozon, a truly bizarre atom-em-up with somewhat awkward mechanics but a really distinctive presentation. Probably because of those first three games, this one was reissued as a Greatest Hits game in the US, unwittingly subjecting America to The Tower of Druaga twice.

For this third volume, both the actual game interface and the museum portion of the game were heavily revamped. For a start, the games now allow you to skip the boot screens by pressing Start, options are in a little drop-down menu that doesn't force the game to restart and don't require you to actually fiddle with dip-switches (although you have that option if you go into each game's Test Mode) and, mercifully, you can now reset a game when paused rather than having to wait to get a game over. As for the museum, the reception area and main hall were merged into one with a more compact design so you don't have to walk as far to get to each game room, the Staff Roll is now found by trying to leave the museum, and generally there's less dead space to wander through. The pre-game rooms with all the gallery stuff are now themed after the games themselves, akin to the themed queue areas from a theme park (Phozon has a science lab lobby, Dig Dug's pre-game room is underground, etc.) and the game rooms themselves are more elaborate (you can open the toilet door in Ms. Pac-Man's house, The Tower of Druaga has a massive Druaga looming over you and you can watch the Galaxian ship's pre-flight preparations) making for a visually more impressive museum visit. The Lounge has been replaced with a room to the side that houses the Data Note and corridors that lead to two new areas. First there's the Library which is now the home of the Namco Complete History, NG Community Magazine Volumes 15 to 28 (1988 to 1989) plus a collection of photographs showing the manufacturing department making a Galaxian cocktail cabinet and several galleries of The Tower of Druaga art showing design materials and how they made the impressive flyer for the game (the Japanese version includes a manga published in NG Magazine, Gogo no Kuni). The other door leads to the Theater where various Namco characters are watching a cinema screen advertising the game you're playing right now- this is where the sprite slideshows and music players can be found, all in one place rather than in each individual pre-game room. Namco and the developers they were working with on these games were still getting to grips with things for the first two volumes, but here is where the museum designs really start to shine.

Volume 4 (1996 in Japan, 1997 in the US and Europe) contains...


The Return of Ishtar

The Genji and the Heike Clans



Pac-Land has a secret, from this site:
Set either Dip Switch #5, #7 or #8 on the left bank to ON and Pac-Man's sprite will have a slightly bigger nose.

There are also two hidden games:

Hidden Return of Ishtar
(1996 / 1997)

Assault Plus

To unlock Hidden Return of Ishtar, enter the pre-game room for The Return of Ishtar, then press Right, Left, Up, then Down and Cross (US / EU) / Circle (JP) at the same time and the room's torches will change from red to blue to confirm code entry. The How to Play placard will be the only remaining item to examine which details the changes in this version- it's almost like a Time Attack version of the original game, as you start with many of Ki's spells from the beginning, Gil's experience and Ki's magic points are displayed on-screen and after a Game Over or you successfully complete the game, your in-game time is displayed. However, this is a one-coin challenge, so there are no continues or passwords. It's possible this version was made to make a one-credit clear possible, something you cannot do in the original arcade version. Good luck.

To unlock Assault Plus, enter the X-Room and press L1, R1, L2, R2, Triangle and Up at the same time to make a woman appear in the room. Interact with her and she will change the pillar in the middle of the room into a placard you can interact with. Interact with it and the room will change into the Assault Plus room with the game's cabinet, some exhibits and the normal How to Play and Tips placards.

The Japanese version has some exclusive items in the Library:
Vols. 1 - 13 of 迷廊館のチャナ / Meirou Yakata no Chana by Hiroshi Fuji (artist for the Valkyrie games), printed in NG Magazine.
Additionally, the song playing in the Theater has its Japanese lyrics removed from international versions.

At this point, in my perception at least, the Namco Museum series stopped caring for mass Western appeal with game choices, if it ever did. My personal recollection is a scathing review of the game in GamesMaster at the time who were thoroughly not impressed... And that just made me more interested, because of course I want to see the weird stuff! Gimmie the games no-one will bother porting again! That's how things are here, and honestly Vol. 4 is probably the wildest lineup of the whole series, with the only game remotely palatable to the English-speaking Playstation Generation crowd being Pac-Land, an early platformer with double-jumps, parallax scrolling and ghosts riding in double-decker buses. Everything else though is weird in some way, from the twinstick tank-em-up Assault (and its modified version Assault Plus), the horizontal shmup Ordyne with a focus on gathering money to spend at the shop for new upgrades, the absolutely nightmarish The Genji and the Heike Clans (better known as Genpei Touma Den) with three different playstyles, and the co-op only hell that is The Return of Ishtar. Notably, The Genji and the Heike Clans actually received a translation for this release, a first for the game. Sadly, Assault is not compatible with the now-common Dualshock for twinstick controls and instead you'll need one of the older analogue controllers- pressing the analogue button to switch the light to green simulates the SCPH-1110: Dual Analog Flightstick and allows you to play it closer to the arcade control setup.

This is the first volume with some nice little quality-of-life features, but it's a shame they were introduced so late. In the games themselves you now get a 'quick menu' after quitting a game so you can instantly skip to playing something else if you want to avoid extra load times for going back to the museum and picking a new game. In the museum, the Data Note has little pictures to go with the assessment of your stats, you finally get to strafe by using the L1 and R1 buttons (very handy for viewing exhibits in a line) and when looking up and down you now retain whatever level you're looking at when you let go of the button rather than snapping back. The museum layout is repurposed from Volume 3 (that's why Assault Plus, despite being a hidden game, has its own room, as there's otherwise only five games in total) but this time the Library has been redesigned with the cast of Libble Rabble wandering around a mini-library with art exhibits for every game except The Return of Ishtar, NG Community Magazine Volumes 29 to 40 (1989 to 1991) and, exclusive to the Japanese version, the first half of Meirou Yakata no Chana, plus the Namco Complete History now highlights games in previous volumes. The Theatre returns but now has a performance from Robot Band PicPac, an actual robot band Namco with an interesting history, last seen performing in the 1990s. The game room themselves continue to be more elaborate, like having the Ordyne room be a fast food restaurant interpretation of Miyuki's shop (the smiles are free, don't you know) and Pac-Land's room even has a little quest to solve- find Sue and the Power Pellet and you'll get the Fairy Boots, allowing you to jump around the Pac-Land game room, make four jumps in a row for 7650 bonus points! This even has a secret intro- hold down all the shoulder buttons as the game loads and the normal intro will be replaced with a cut-down promo video for Genpei Touma Den directed by Keita Amemiya of Mirai Ninja fame (thanks, ohfivepro!).

Volume 5 (1997 in Japan and the US, 1998 in Europe) contains...




Dragon Spirit

The Legend of Valkyrie

The Japanese version has some exclusive items in the Library:

Vols. 14 - 23 of 迷廊館のチャナ / Meirou Yakata no Chana by Hiroshi Fuji (artist for the Valkyrie games), printed in NG Magazine, plus an unpublished volume.
The Dragon Spirit manga printed in NG Magazine, artist unknown (can you help?).

I almost wanna say this is the strongest lineup of the entire Museum series, mostly because of Baraduke (a weird, floaty action game with a fantastic atmosphere) and The Legend of Valkyrie (an answer to the question, what if The Legend of Zelda was an arcade game), the latter being presented in English for the first and only time. Metro-Cross is also a particular favourite, a mad dash to the end of each stage with jump pads, skateboards and holes to fall in along the way, but Pac-Mania and Dragon Spirit are perhaps more contentious. Maze game fanatics might find Pac-Mania to be somewhat of a disappointment as you can't see the entire maze all at once which makes corralling ghosts and not running into them by accident more difficult, but you do have a jump button to mitigate this... Although later ghosts can jump too. I kinda have a soft spot for it though, something I can't say for Dragon Spirit, which looks greats, sounds great, bores me to tears. Then I found out one of the later stages takes place in the dark with limited visibility (read: you can't see bullets until they're in front of you) and I felt completely justified. Sorry, dragon fans.

One last time, the Museum portion has been completely redesigned, more elaborate and detailed than ever (and, thankfully, your walk speed has been massively increased from previous games). A four-story building with a basement (Baraduke), the ground floor (Pac-Mania and Metro-Cross), the first floor (Dragon Spirit and The Legend of Valkyrie) and a roof (the new home of the Data Note, Gallery and Theater) with the museum decorated with a set of Pac-Man ghosts running through a mini-railway embedded in the ceiling and murals depicting a whole host of Namco characters interacting with each other. The game rooms themselves iterate on the interactivity seen in Volume 4, with Baraduke having multiple rooms, objects to interact with like the jump pad from Metro-Cross and the power pellet from Pac-Mania, and much better-quality environments and character models overall. On the roof, the Data Note is still present and now hosted in a facsimile of the house from 迷廊館のチャナ / Meirou Yakata no Chana, a manga by The Adventure of Valkyrie artist Hiroshi Fuji printed in NG Community Magazine and presented by Oru-Oru, a character from the same series. There's also a small-scale Gallery up here (replacing the Library) has Mappy and Goro robots wandering around with concept art for Dragon Spirit, a picture-book prequel to The Legend of Valkyrie, NG Community Magazine Volumes 43 to 52 (1991 to 1993) although a scan of 49 is missing (because, ahem, Godzilla & Mothra) and, in the Japanese version, the Dragon Spirit manga and the remaining chapters of Chana in the Labyrinth Mansion and even an unpublished chapter! The Theater is here too, now a full-on opera house with Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man seemingly performing that balcony bit from Romeo and Juliet. Additionally, there is a secret video of Baraduke which is the intro to the game from Namco no Densetsu, a promo tape from 1986 (thanks to jeffzwarrn for sending this to me on Twitter!).

Encore (1997 in Japan only) contains...

King & Balloon


Sky Kid

Rolling Thunder

Wonder Momo


Dragon Saber

From 1980 to 1990, this has the largest year-span of any of these collections, and it's quite the selection. Not quite as strong as some of the previous volumes, with some games that just don't appeal to me- King & Balloon is a weird protect-em-up / gallery shooter that's mostly notable for its amusing voice samples. Motos is a bump-em-up that does nothing for me, and once again Dragon Saber doesn't excite me in the least- but then you have the other four that make this collection worth a look if you ask me. Wonder Momo is an acquired taste, and isn't a fully-faithful port (the timing of the Wonder Hoop returning on-screen has changed- I once asked Kevin Gifford of Magweasel to explain this to me and he did, then I went on to never write an article about the game, sorry!) but has nice presentation and an interesting premise (it's a stage show!); Sky Kid is a neat little scrolling shooter that has you bombing specific targets and allows you to loop-de-loop to avoid enemies and bullets; Rompers is a great puzzler where you push down walls to crush baddies and collect the keys; and finally, Rolling Thunder seems like a game that should've been on one of the previous collections, a landmark run-and-gun that influenced the likes of Shinobi and Sunset Riders. Not a bad swansong selection, honestly.

For the final Museum volume, Namco skipped a Western release and the 'Museum' bit of the title (it's now hosted in a giant spaceship called the Game Space Milayia named after a Namco game centre) but it still keeps the core features beyond that. You now have a menu with all seven game cabinets lined up plus the traditional Data Note section, but you now use the Pac-Man cursor to examine each cabinet before you play, allowing you to view things like PCBs and promotional materials. Rather than the quick menu after leaving a game, you just go back to the main menu but playing a game once switches the cabinet on- you can then insert a coin using the Pac-Man cursor and you'll skip past any boot screens and go straight to the start screen when you load that game up (there's still a load time, obviously) which is a neat little touch. The lack of a proper museum to explore is a little disappointing, but perhaps Namco couldn't justify that much effort into a volume that wouldn't leave Japan or something. If you're looking to import this, while the Data Note stuff and the main menu captions are in Japanese, the options menu in each game is entirely in English so there should be very little language barrier.

We're nearing the end of the tour now, so here's a few final thoughts.

So, a lot of the appeal with the Namco Museum titles beyond the games themselves is the presentation. While they look a little crude at points, it was still early days for the Playstation and a lot of love clearly went into these spaces, and that's not even mentioning the great soundtrack- each game gets a remix for their game room (with particular favourites being Rally-X, Dragon Buster and Ordyne, plus some of the music used for other parts of the museum come from the likes of Libble Rabble!) which is a nice touch. I almost want to say this is like a multimedia title for PCs when CDs were becoming the big storage medium (funnily enough, Namco sort of did do this with the Namco History series released after most of the Museum games that covered similar ground, there's even little galleries!) with a 3D space to freely explore and all the exhibits you can peruse, but it's not quite so densely packed with information and text as something on PC Oh, and you can play arcade games in it, too. In any case, this presentation and dedication to making these elaborate museums celebrating not only their games but Namco history as a whole (there's a lot of references to their robotics stuff, as you may have noticed) is what makes these compilations memorable. Some good games on 'em too, most of the time!

After these Playstation releases, the Namco Museum series did continue, and continues to this day, but the museum aspect was basically removed, and would mostly restrict themselves to single-volume releases (except the Japanese version of the PSP installment which was split into two, and the recent Namco Museum Archives... Which are Namco Museum games in name only as they collect Namco's home games / ports instead), meaning the same games would be rereleased a lot. I don't want to say their lineups are necessarily only games you've seen over and over again- the Mass Media-developed PS2-era game had a selection of the 'Arrangement' games from the otherwise-arcade-only Namco Classic Collection Vols. 1 and 2, Namco Museum Megamix on Wii had Cutie Q, Pac & Pal and Dig Dug II, and the Switch Namco Museum had Rolling Thunder 2, Tank Force and Splatterhouse (!)- but generally you see the Pac-Mans, the Dig Dugs and the Galagas a lot. That said, I have come to appreciate the concept of 'keeping games in print' a lot more in recent years (especially with the advent of the Switch making a huge swathe of games suddenly more portable) so I've no problem seeing those games again (although I get why mainstream audiences don't) but Namco seems steadfast in its refusal to go beyond the 1980s with this stuff, which is a huge shame as a heck of a lot of deserving titles are otherwise unported or were only rereleased on the Wii Virtual Console in Japan, plus their modern Namco Museums tend to be light on extras like the PS1 games. Had the series continued doing the small set of games format, perhaps we would've seen museum rooms dedicated to the likes of Exvania, Finest Hour and Numan Athletics...

As lovely an idea as that may be, I know in my heart it'd be unsustainable. As hardware improved and higher-capacity mediums like DVDs and later Blu-rays were being introduced, developers could fit far, far more than seven games on their retro collections, and so sets like Midway Arcade Treasures (24 games) and Sega Mega Drive Collection (33 games) became the standard, something that would only become more common as the generation went on and when things shifted to the generation after that. Keeping up with this level of perceived value but continuing to provide the museum aspect clearly wasn't justifiable anymore, and so the museums were dropped in all but name. There's a debate to be had about older games being devalued by this practice (it's made people less likely to go for individual rereleases in my experience, which is a shame as lines like Arcade Archives are often the first / only home ports of some of their weirder picks) and I'm definitely happier with my retro collections having less games but more extras and historical context like SNK 40th Anniversary Collection or even individual releases that go above and beyond for accuracy and whatever features they can fit in while being true to the original like the Sega Ages releases on Switch, but this is obviously a niche interest, and Gaming Hell is probably not the place to have that chat. In any case, I like the idea of the PS1 Namco Museums but I also understand why they're not quite made that way anymore given the size of Namco's back catalogue. Not quite sure where this train of thought is going, so maybe it's time to wrap up. The museum is closing, please take all of your belongings with you and visit again!

... Still, I want more Namco '90s stuff brought home. Port Knuckle Heads to modern consoles, you cowards!

To end, here's Pac-Man on the bog.