Namco Museum DS
Retro compilations return once again, but this time with a party game for the ages.
Between retro compilations, the Wii's virtual console, and Xbox Live Arcade, gamers today have access to an all-you-can-buy buffet of nostalgic gaming releases. Not wanting to be left out of the fun, Namco looks to join the fray later this summer with a DS entry in their Namco Museum series. This information is not even remotely interesting when taken at face value; Namco's big games are available on so many systems and in so many forms that another chance to spend money on them is extremely unappealing. Dig deeper, however, and you uncover three little words that make this one of my most anticipated DS releases in the upcoming months: Pac-Man VS.
Before we get to the good news, here's the mediocre... Namco Museum DS will feature 7 tried-and-true classics including Pac-Man, Mappy, and the shooter trio of Xevious, Galaxian, and Galaga. Dig-Dug is noticeably absent, but its less-popular sequel will be making an appearance. Moving to a top-down view, Dig-Dug II has players trying to knock portions of an island into the sea (taking their enemies with it) by weakening fault lines. The final retro title, Tower of Druaga, may be new to U.S. gamers who haven't picked up a Namco Museum title before. In what could be called an early roguelike, players guide the hero Gilgamesh through a gigantic tower maze, defeating monsters and collecting treasure.
Details are somewhat scarce on updates, but the press release promises "the use of different screen combinations" that will allow players to choose between a DS-unique configuration and a more traditional arcade setup. Konami did much the same with their recent classic compilation and got good results, so it seems like a sound idea to follow in their footsteps.
With these seven classics comes the one game that will make Namco Museum DS a must buy, Pac-Man VS. This little multiplayer gem probably slipped under your radar in 2003, sold only in bundles with certain Gamecube titles, but it was one heck of a party game. Making use of the Cube-to-GBA cable, Pac-Man VS had between one and three players controlling ghosts on the television set while the fourth used the GBA to direct Pac-Man in what essentially boiled down to tag with power pellets. The three ghosts had limited visibility, but the one who caught Pac-Man got to take over the GBA, control of the "hero," and a full view of the playing field. The match continued until a specific point total was reached, players switching back and forth between roles. Unfortunately, the hardware requirement kept most from giving VS a try, so the promised single-cart, wireless multiplayer in Namco Museum DS should be just what the doctor ordered... assuming the doctor ordered an awesome party game.
For those not yet convinced, the price point of $19.99 should seal the deal. Considering that only one copy is necessary, three good friends and five bucks each is all that'll be needed when the game comes out later this summer. That's a small price to pay for a unique experience personally designed by Shigeru Miyamoto himself, wouldn't you say?