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PAX 07: Namco Museum Remix is still weird, but also fun


I checked out Namco Museum Remix at PAX (there was not a line at any point for this game), hoping to play the weirdo Galaga interpretation and all the other new games on the disc. I expected to be either put off or unimpressed by everything but the real classic arcade games, but ... well, I have a confession to make, and I'm not sure how you guys are going to take it.

I really enjoyed Gator Panic Remix, for reasons I can't fully explain. I shouldn't have enjoyed it as much as I did. It's a simple Whack-a-Mole style game, which is an obvious fit for the Wiimote. However, instead of just whacking in the appropriate direction, you first highlight the appropriate gator with the Nunchuk's analog stick, and then whack. It never occurred to me that this was an imperfect setup until I got home. I was actually too busy having a good time. Again, I don't have an excuse. Gator Panic may not be worth $50 on its own, but it's one of those things that seems like it would be hard not to enjoy at least a little. Maybe that's some unconscious desperation to promote retrogaming at work, or maybe it's a reaction against the new, flashy FPS games I could see from where I was playing Namco Museum, but it just made me happy.

Galaga Remix wasn't as purely enjoyable as Gator Panic, but I did get over the initial weirdness fairly quickly, and found something neat. While the point of the game is to protect Pac-Man, the game actually plays out as a light-gun shooter (with the added ability to make Pac-Man jump to avoid shots.) As it turns out, the mixture of a light-gun game with Galaga enemy formations and movements is pretty inspired. It makes a lot of sense. The PAX show floor was not the most hospitable environment for sensor bars, unfortunately, so my shooting was not quite up to snuff.

As for the rest of the new games: Rally-X Remix is a graphically-upgraded Rally-X with worse controls, and not even because of waggle-- it uses the joystick. I found myself turning directly around when I meant to turn a corner, and thus dying. Pac-Motos is a game in which you bump balls off the side of a platform by rolling into them. Most of the balls are motionless; other, sentient balls are trying to bump you off the side. The game is fun, but too hard. Those enemy balls are ruthless. Pac-n-Roll Remix is a fun rolling platformer that I thought would have used the Wiimote. Nothing uses any kind of motion sensing, that I found, except for Galaga. How odd for Wii-exclusive remixes!

It goes without saying that the classic arcade releases are sumptuous. I very much appreciate the inclusion of less-common games like Pac-Mania and Mappy-- all with multiple control schemes. I don't think any of the classic games had an option to use motion controls-- I didn't see such an option, anyway.

I'm not sure I can recommend the game as a full-priced release, but it would certainly make a fine budget game. Unlike most Wii games, the new stuff in Namco Museum Remix has arcade history behind it, which should appeal to all kinds of gamers-- even old ones like me.

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