Namco was one of the first companies to release a compilation of it's classic arcade games on the original Playstation back in 1996. The Namcomuseum line of arcade compilations was a nice diversion of games to provide a much needed classic arcade fix of Pac-Man, Galaga or Pole Position. During the PS1 era, Namco released five compilations with six or so different games on each disc, ranging from well-known classics to some no one has heard of. At the time, these collections were okay, but lacking value as there were only a few games in each collection. In this generation of consoles, companies like Midway, Capcom and even Tatio have managed to cram 20+ games on one disc for their compilations at a budget price. Namco, for some reason, doesn't think that way. The first Namcomuseum for this generation of consoles only had about 10 or so games in the collection, and wanted a full $40 for it. How the hell they pulled off selling many copies on each system is a mystery to me. Now they sort of double (even triple) - dip into the arcade compilation market again with the Namcomuseum 50th Anniversary Edition pack, which includes a few more games that weren't offered in the previous Namcomuseum collection, as well as a few 80's songs in the selection screen, at a $19.99 price tag. I
Unless you never had a Namco compilation this generation (like me), you may want to steer clear of this edition, as there just isn't enough new content to warrant spending another $20 on the same game. All the familiar games are here: Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man, Pole Position 1 and 2, Galaga, Galaxian, Rally-X and Xevious. There are some "new" entries (at least from the last edition) including Bosconian, Sky Kid, Mappy, Rolling Thunder, Galaga 88 and Dragon Spirit. But seeing how Namco is calling this the "50th Anniversary Collection", where the hell is Ridge Racer, Soul Blade, Tekken, and the other Namco games in between? Comapred to the recent Capcom Classics Collection and Tatio Legends compilation, the selection here feels a bit short, and there's really no excuse like Midway's third collection, which had games that had larger sizes of data. This is a collection of very few suprisies.
The emulation is handled by Digital Eclipse this time around, which is basically the go-to company if you want your classic games emulated. They did a fairy decent job here, as the games look the same as they did in arcades, but there are some sound and control issues I ran into. The music in the game selection screen is just too loud, and the sound in the games themselves are too low. So I have to turn up the volume to hear the game, then when I change another game, I have cheap 80's music blasting out my stereo. As for control problems, the only game I had serious issues with was the original Pole Position. For some reason the steering is totally out of whack, and if you do manage to get a best score, I couldn't enter my initials. At least Pole Position II is okay. One thing I've noticed about half the interface of this game is that Digital Eclipse used a bit too much of Midway's layouts from Arcade Treasures 2 and 3. Even the loading screen is similar. At least the game selection screen is different.
If you don't already own a Namco collection, this isn't such a bad one to have, as it currently has the most games in it. It does it's job for giving gamers a quick-fix of old-school arcade games, but Namco still has this problem of re-using the same games over and over in their collections. It's time to take a cue from Midway and include a whole new set of games in the next compilation, because this crap won't fly in the next-gen era.