Namco Museum Remix (Wii)

Namco Museum Remix
Nintendo Wii (2007)

A quick scan of my personal game collection reveals Namco compilations for every disc-based system I own. I’ve got all five Namco Museum discs for the original PlayStation, Namco Musem for the Dreamcast, PS2, Xbox, and GameCube, and the 50th Anniversary releases for the GameCube and PS2. When I heard that yet another Namco Museum release was in the works, this time for the Nintendo Wii, I was afraid it would simply be more of the same. It’s not — but after playing this mixed-up mash-up, you’ll wish it were.

Namco Musem Remix contains fourteen games which fall into two categories: five new remixes, and nine original classics. The menu system is a 3D platformer, where gamers choose games by navigating Pac-Man through a brightly-colored 3D world. it is here players get their first taste of Remix’s wonky controls. Actually, that’s not fair; the menu’s controls handles better and make more sense than most of the games do. Like of the games, navigating the menu requires nunchuck controller.

The nine retro classics included on the disc in their original form are Galaxian, Dig Dug, Mappy, Xevious, Gaplus, Super Pac-Man, Pac & Pal, Pac-Mania and Cute Q. Each game can be played by either using the Wiimote and the Nunchuck together, using the Wiimote by itself, or using the Wii Classic Controller. I don’t own a classic controller, but hopefully these games play better with one of those than they do with the other two choices. The nunchuck/Wiimote combo is almost impossible, and the Wiimote by itself (rotated) isn’t any better. The Wiimote’s d-pad is amazingly inaccurate, making controlling these games much more frustrating than it needs to be. This makes playing the few good games like Dig Dug difficult to control, and the lesser-known titles frustrating to learn.

That leaves us with the five new game remixes: Pac ‘N Roll, Galaga, Pac-Motos, Rally-X, and Gator Panic. Your enjoyment level of these five games will probably hinge on how familiar you were with the originals, and how upset you will be when you discover than these aren’t like them. Your opinion may also be swayed by how much you like Pac-Man, as he appears in all the remixes for some reason. If you’re okay with those things, there’s some fun to be had here.

Take Galaga Remix, for example. In this version, you job is to protect Pac-Man as he rolls his way down open-faced tubes located in outer space (think interstellar water slides). As Paccy rolls through these tubes he’ll be attacked by updated-but-Galaga-inspired space bugs. Using the Wiimote as a laser gun, enemies are disposed of by pointing at then and firing by using either the A or B button. Although Pac-Man’s route runs on auto-pilot, you can make Pac-Man jump and dodge bullets by pressing up on the Nunchuck. Thirty seconds into the game I began to wonder, why didn’t they just make A jump and B fire and drop the Nunchuck altogether? Alas, that is not the way the Nintendo Gods wished it. Instead you’re forced to hold the Nunchuck the entire time only to make Pac-Man jump, a maneuver that’s required maybe once or twice per level. Somewhere along the way, the quintessential top down shoot-em-up has been transformed — er, remixed — into a shooter-on-rails starring Pac-Man in a rainbow slide. Hmm.

Most of the other remixes aren’t quite as radical in their redesigns, but they’re all significantly different from their source material. Feeding the stereotype that the Wii is catering to casual gamers over hardcore fans, all the games are simple to learn and, at least during the earlier levels, pretty tough to get killed in.

Namco Museum Remix’s lone bright spot is its multiplayer support. For those with enough friends (and nunchucks) available, the remixed games are slightly more rewarding. None of them will ever be referred to as your favorite game, but they do take some of the sting out of paying $40 for this title.

Wii owners with a thirst for Namco nostalgia should pick up one of the two Namco Museum titles available for the GameCube and play those instead.

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