It’s a weird thing to admit, but I love compilations. Case in point, I’m eagerly awaiting the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Cowabunga Collection more than I care about AAA titles like God of War or Call of Duty. Since I’m an old fogey, I’ve been fortunate enough to have played most of the games in compilations when they came out, made some memories. That’s why when I hear they’re getting remastered or remade or even just compiled into a handy package, my ears perk up. That’s the reason why I had Pac-Man Museum + squarely in my sights when Bandai Namco announced it a couple of months back.
Pac-Man might no longer be a household name nowadays (certainly not as much as he was in the 80s anyhow), but he’s certainly one of the most recognizable characters in video gaming history. That’s saying something, considering his stalwarts include Mario, Donkey Kong, Sonic and the like.
Despite his legacy sealed as one of gaming’s great, Pac-Man’s games haven’t exactly lit the industry on fire for a loooooooong time.
So, is Pac-Man Museum + enough to convince people that the Pac-Man isn’t done yet?
Read on and find out.
What is Pac-Man Museum +?
Pac-Man Museum + is a compilation of selected Pac-Man titles.
There are 14 games in all, with the earliest being the Arcade version of Pac-Man (1980) to the latest being the console version of Pac-Man 256 (2015). Local multiplayer is supported for titles that have it.
Pac-Man Museum + is now available for PC, Nintendo Switch and the Playstation and Xbox consoles.
Our copy of the game was graciously given to us by the kind folks at Bandai Namco Asia. Much appreciated!
The first thing I asked myself when I saw the titles included was, ‘Why these games?’.
They’re not done chronologically or via genres so what gives? What makes a game worthy to be included?
I still haven’t found the answer as I’d love to play some of Pac-Man’s other titles (like on the PS1 or GBA) instead of the handful of games we have here.
Perhaps Bandai Namco’s planning on releasing a Part II further down the road so maybe that’s why they’re keeping the beefier titles in reserve?
Thankfully, that’s not a big issue because quite a few games included are legitimate classics.
You’d think, the biggest draw for the Pac-Man Museum + would be its games, right?
You’d be wrong.
The games are mostly fun (though some are better than others) but they’re not the main reason to play. Nope, what draws me back (and back and back) is the ability to unlock stuff to customize your own virtual arcade with.
In the virtual arcade you can arrange items to your liking, as well as walk about it as Pac-Man. It’s nothing major but it’s a really fun incentive to play and unlock stuff.
You see, Pac-Man Museum + has an in-game currency called coins.
These tokens are awarded for completing missions and are not only used to play the games (to simulate their coin-operated nature back in the day) but also to unlock new decorations for your arcade via the Gashapon machine.
You get statues, arcade machines and other items to place as you will in your arcade.
There are also unique unlockables (such as the cute Ghost visitors that can roam around) that you’ll only get by completing in-game missions, which are unique to each title. You don’t know what Missions unlock what though, so it’s always a mystery.
The inclusion of the missions is a good one, though sadly, its execution falls flat.
The missions themselves repeat for all the games (such as Achieve a Score of XXX or Eat X Ghosts In A Game), making them predictable (after the first few games) and with that, boring.
If there was one thing that I wish Bandai Namco would change with a patch, that’s it. Make the missions more unique to the games themselves, instead of being lazy copy pastes throughout.
Speaking of games, all the titles in the collection are pretty decent to play, though I personally prefer Pac-Man 256 and Pac-Man Championship Edition. The earlier entries are fun enough, but their coin gobbling nature means you have to be pretty good to keep playing, which isn’t for me.
Pac-Man 256 and Pac-Man Championship Edition which were made for consoles (and smart devices) have none of that driving them, so they’re more of a lengthy affair with modern, more responsive gameplay and controls.
In fact, I’d even go as far to say that Pac-Man Championship Edition is a much better game than the original Pac-Man! Better gameplay, more responsive controls and a thumping soundtrack makes it the victor in every aspect you can think of.
While the emulation for the arcade roms are fine enough, I wish there was more to the presentation. Apart from some filters, save states (only in selected titles) and online leaderboards, there’s nothing new to differentiate the games in this collection from the others.
Also…where are the design documents, developer interviews or game related materials and the like? There’s nothing here to peruse to give you insights into the creation of these games at all. Despite there being a ‘Museum’ in the title, there’s a complete lack of archival materials.
It’s a glaring omission and a huge missed opportunity for Bandai Namco to lift the curtain and let us peer into the inner workings of the games.
Hell, you don’t even get summarized entries about the games present, just a tiny blurb in the Game Guide for each title!
A more immersive experience (like a first person view) for you to walk around your arcade would’ve been much appreciated too, like the view you get from playing the Capcom Arcade Stadium.
While that game didn’t have a virtual arcade to roam around it, you select the games in first person view, with your viewpoint being adjustable via the right analog stick. It really makes you feel like you’re sitting at an arcade cabinet and playing, which is something that’s missing from this collection.
In essence, that’s what I feel the game is lacking the most. The feel of playing Pac-Man in an arcade. It does go a couple of steps in the right direction but then lost it way. It’s quite sad considering this had the potential to be a great way to introduce Pac-Man to the new generation, especially if it included more extra stuff.
The Bottom Line.
Pac-Man Museum + has the games but it’s sorely lacking in presentation, something most companies overlook when it comes to creating a compilation. Yes, the titles are classics and being able to replay them in one place is good but that’s just half the battle.
Extras like design documents, documentaries and other media would’ve made the title into so much more.
While the virtual arcade is cool, it too is a bit of a missed opportunity because it doesn’t go far enough to really simulate what playing in one was like.
Considering that most of the games in this are from arcade era, that’s a massive oversight.
Great set of games but presentation and extras need work.
- 14 games to play.
- Virtual arcade is fun to customize.
- Lots of stuff to unlock.
- No extras.
- Barebones presentation.
- Missing a ton of Pac-Man games.