At first, it was difficult to be excited about Namco's latest compilation release. I've got nothing against the arcade greats like Pac-man, Galaga and Dig Dug – but it's time for a change, don't you think?
Well, it wasn't quite the spiritual advancement I hoped for, but the inclusion of four arranged editions is definitely a step in the right direction. Finally, retro enthusiasts and old-timers like myself can enjoy updated versions of Pac-man, Dig Dug, Galaga and Rally-X. Out of the entire selection, Pac-Man Arrangement quickly became my all-time favorite, hands down. In fact, I loved it so much, I was disappointed that I was able to breeze through it so quickly. I'd hate to say it, but compared to their arcade brethren, the arranged versions are substantially easier. In some ways, I didn't mind that too much, since my legendary skills aren't quite what they used to be. It was a clear reminder that many of the golden age games still have what it takes to offer a compelling, addictive game – which doesn't say much for many of the current-gen releases available.
As for the rest of the arcade selection, I wasn't too thrilled about some of the pickings that managed to grace this package. Titles like Dragon Buster, Grobda and Tower of Druaga, to date, haven't seen much love in the playtime department and isn't bound to change anytime soon. Mappy was downright frustrating, making me want to launch a campaign to end the life of mice everywhere. And Xevious, well – if you've ever played the arcade release, then you're well aware how much of a unfulfilling shmup it actually is. Why couldn't classics like Poke Position Super Pac-man make the cut? Color me disappointed.
That's not to say that I've dismissed everything; far from it, actually. I recall playing Bosconian years ago, so it was great to revisit this old-time favorite. Pac-man and Ms. Pac-man are obviously impossible to pass up, unless you're like, weird or something. And Rolling Thunder was definitely an awesome treat, but it suffers from these quirky shadows. I promised myself not to mirror E. Storm's ballistic episode ala Street Fighter Alpha 2, but they're pretty distracting.
Those of you fortunate to have someone in the local area with a copy can explore the multiplayer option available for each of the aforementioned arranged versions. I really wish developers would jump on the Infrastructure Mode because it's not being fully taken advantage of as I hoped for.
Overall, this is one of the better Namco retro packages released in years. Retro enthusiasts and faithful fans looking to rekindle their arcade pastime on the go ought to give it a look. For me, it's been the perfect excuse to spend more time with my PSP, but I am still waiting for the day when they release a wholly new package with updated current-gen content.