If there was one company who absolutely threw themselves whole-heartedly into the “retro titles for current systems” melee, it was Namco. While the likes of Taito, Midway, Capcom and SNK followed suit later, Namco led the charge for bringing the arcade experience back for home gamers with their Namco Museum series on the PS1. So today in retro gaming, we celebrate the release of the fourth volume in their anthology…one day early (because we had to have something to post tomorrow too).
While all of the Museum collections are worth picking up, Namco Museum 4 might be the most important one for American arcade historians. Previous releases in this series mostly featured games familiar to western audiences: Bosconian, Galaga, Xevious, Dig Dug and the like. Volume 4 however presents players with four games (and one “updated” game) we never saw on US Shores. We also get the Japanese version Pac-Land which got a graphical face-lift for its US release to make it look similar to the Hanna Barbara “Pac-Man” cartoon.
Unfortunately for gamers today, nostalgia is what sells retro collections to most gamers. Volume 3 of this series was the best-selling, because it included Ms. Pac-Man, Galaxian, and Dig Dug. Gamers cut their teeth on these arcade titles in their youth, and were anxious to relive the experience. By contrast, nobody had played any of the games on Volume 4, it sold like crap, and as a result it’s now harder to find than the others. Used copies tend to hover around the $20-30 range–compare that with used copies of Volume 3, which can be found for a penny plus shipping on Amazon.
So we’ll be honest here: nobody’s going to have their mind blown by the fact they can get Assault, Assault Plus, The Genji and Heike Clans, Ordyne, Pac-Land, and Return of Ishtar on one CD because we never got the chance to have our minds blown by them in the arcades to begin with. That shouldn’t stop collectors and retro junkies from tracking down this collection. Namco Museum Volume 4 is a love letter to Japanese arcades of yesteryear, and I can’t recommend it highly enough to the right audience. So enjoy this great ad celebrating its release: