Namco Museum is good again ⊟ 

After basically inventing the retro collection on the PlayStation with well-curated selections of well-recreated games alongside cool extras, the Namco Museum series kind of lost its way in future generations, with non-starter PlayStation Home experiments and irredeemable Wii remakes. Far from the unquestionable quality – and predictably frequent releases – of the early Museums, Namco Museum compilations are all over the place in terms of how many games are included, how interesting those games are, and how well they’re presented.

Namco Museum on the Switch gets it all right. Namco Museum is back!

Yes, Pac-Man, Dig Dug, and Galaga are included. Again. Those are kind of boring inclusions, but… only because they’re on all the Museums. They happen to still be awesome, and this is a great way to experience them. All three of those games were designed for vertically oriented monitors, and you can play them in vertical tate mode on Switch at the push of a button. They work fine horizontally as well, even shrunk down in the middle of the handheld’s screen. In addition, those games (and all the others) have an optional challenge mode that changes up the goal – like getting a bunch of ships captured, then rescuing them, in Galaga.


But Namco filled out the collection with less obvious games as well. Galaga ‘88 is the cuter, more responsive, more fun sequel to Galaga that everyone on Earth should experience. I’d never even played Tank Force, sort of a Pac-Man but for tanks shooting each other, and Namco Museum has given me the opportunity to discover that. The sort of spy-themed Shinobi platformer Rolling Thunder is there, a game I’d played maybe once in the arcade, along with its (upon a cursory play) super stylish sequel. Even Splatterhouse is here! I, uh, have to spend some more time with Splatterhouse, because I don’t quite get it.


But the point is, of course, that I have the opportunity to spend more time with Splatterhouse, pretty much anywhere or any time I want to. Every time a different genre of game comes out on the Switch, I discover anew how perfect the hybrid home/portable form factor is for it. These retro games are, unsurprisingly, well-suited for short-session handheld play. But since these are also multiplayer games (oh yeah, Pac-Man Vs. is on here too!) it’s nice to be able to put them up on the TV to play together.


My favorite retro collections are those that collect great, well-known old games along with oddities that I haven’t played. I want to have access to my favorites and discover new ones. And while this Switch collection doesn’t have a Bosconian or a Metro-Cross, it has an interesting variety, in an unbeatable form factor, with cool extras and a beautiful presentation. I’m ready for four more.