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In Memory
Sean Pettibone


Namco Museum Remix (Wii) 

Namco's compilations usually offer a rock-solid selection of classic titles and the Wii edition of its Museum series is no exception. Namco Museum Remix includes 9 classic titles including Dig Dug, Galaxian and Pac Mania, there's plenty of variety in these emulated classics. However, the center of Museum Remix are several newly developed 3D versions of Rally-X, Galaga, Pac N Roll, Motos, and Gator Panic. Reconfigured to take full advantage of the wii-mote's special abilities, the game's take the classic mechanics and put them in new contexts, making for accessible fun that should appeal to retro gamers and new casual players alike making this an excellent value for the money.
This is the kind of game that probably gets overlooked a lot in the flood of mini-game titles coming out for the Wii, but those who do are missing out on a solid classic gaming compilation that takes good advantage of the innovative Wiimote and nunchuck while offering some cool surprises. As usual, the core of the package remains emulated versions of classic games, and this one includes 9 titles. These include Dig Dug, Galaxian, Mappy, Pac N Pal, Cutie-Q, Super Pac Man, Gaplus, Xevious and Pac Mania. Each of these classic titles is presented in nearly flawless emulated form and can be played at their original aspect ratio thanks to letterboxing. Players can change the size of the emulation window and play the games using either the wii-mote, held sideways, with the nunchuck for analog control or use the Wii classic controller for a more authentic experience. Whichever way you decide to play, the games have stood up to the test of time, though their many repeat appearances on other Namco discs over the years makes them feel familiar for most players. The presentation and menus are fairly easy to use and navigate, as players roll pac man to the various sections in an open world style approach that's easy to understand and makes playing quite simple.

As they roll through the museum with Pac Man, most players will probably gravitate towards the new versions of the classics first, and a quick look at these shows that Namco has put some thought into these revivals. Visually, they're simple in approach and style, which is a good approach on the Wii. Pac-man has been cast in the lead of all these games which gives them a cuteness factor that the originals never had. Galaga Remix is probably the most interesting and challenging of these new games, and takes players on a roller-coaster ride through the universe. As in the original Galaga, players have to shoot formations of aliens as they attack, but the twist here is that the Wiimote is used to target the enemies as an onscreen pointer, instead of a narrow band at the bottom of the screen. The object is to destroy them while Pac himself rides over rails. The game also adds some power-ups and more types of enemies, which makes it feel quite unique. It's very different from the original game, but is loads of fun as well, making it worth a try. The initial levels are a bit simple, but things become more challenging later on, where swarms attack relentlessly. It's not terribly difficult, but the new Galaga hybrid shows how to update classic play mechanics to incorporate the unique abilities of the wiimote without losing the essential fun of the original game. The next remake included is a newly updated version of Rally-X which takes a similar approach with pac man taking the wheel. As in the original game, players race through a maze and try to collect flags while avoiding the enemy drivers. The driver can flout their progress my releasing smokescreens. The first few levels play very closely to the original but a few twists occur during the later stages such as sequential flag captures, additional enemies and more complicated mazes. Rally-X's 3D approach makes the game more immersive, but the retro effects such as the pixellated yellow flags and classic sound effects offer a good mix of old and new, which makes the game pleasing to the eye and its easy to understand gameplay mechanics and accessible controls make this updated version of Rally-X perfectly suited to the Wii.

One of the more enjoyable and challenging surprises on this pack is Pac N Roll remix, a remake of the DS game that allows you to roll through levels, collecting dots along the way while navigating a series of obstacles and puzzles. It resembles a mix of Marble Madness with classic characters and dot chasing. Some of the levels seem simple early on, but these act as training to help you get the hang of the basics while preparing you for the more complex stages. You'll need to go through ramps, perform jumps and unlock secret areas in order to collect enough dots to move through the various checkpoints. In addition, you have to be careful and avoid contact with the ghosts you'll encounter. There are also prizes and power-pellets which adds to the classic feel. The controls here are a bit touchy, but once you get the hang of it, Pac N Roll remix has a very good flow and fun feel that offers a surprising amount of depth, making it one of the best titles on the compilation. In a similar vein comes Pac Motos, an interesting variation on a somewhat obscure classic where you have to knock off a series of balls from a small level while avoiding getting bumped off the board by them. Like many of the games on the compliation, it starts off slowly but gradually becomes more complex and challenging as you reach later levels. The controls are very easy to understand and quite responsive, which makes for an easy and fun game that should appeal to all ages. It remains simple, but its accessibility makes it a good fit with the Wii audience making for an excellent pick up and play title. The only real dud here is Gator Panic Remix, a simplistic game where you have to hit alligators before they bite your main character, which is a bit too simple and repetitive for long-term play, giving it limited replay value. Still, this means 4 of the 5 remixed versions are solidly entertaining, which isn't a bad average if you think about it.

Overall, the new remixed versions of these classic games deliver what you'd expect from Namco, and the approach taken effectively takes advantage of the Wiimote's abilities. The use of pointing in Galaga is particularly good and shows some though has gone into the package. Namco deserves credit for not simply slapping together a collection of mindless ports and instead adding a few original and innovative ideas to the release. There's a decent selection of games in the classic arcade as well, though maybe too many Pac Man titles overall, though with the Wii's younger demo's, it's probably an understandable choice. Still, we would've liked to see an updated version of Pole Position or one of the more interesting Namco titles like Legend of Druaga. Namco Museum Remix is a good choice for Wii owners looking for life beyond the virtual console releases, making it a decent package for its low retail price and should offer plenty of fun for classic and casual gamers alike. 

- Michael Palisano

Grade: B

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