edge.gif (2412 bytes)


Still showing no signs of running out of classic games to reanimate, with Museum Volume 3 Namco bring eager retrofans some of the most evocative memory lane trips yet.

If you’re anywhere around your mid-20s, the electronic reveille that greets the start of Galaxian, speedily followed by the low, mean revving of the formation of alien space bees, will have you choking back the tears in seconds. You might be pleasantly surprised immediately afterwards, too, as the game has stood the test of time better than Edge might have imagined - it’s still a challenging and tense shoot-‘em-up, even after all these years and glitzy sequels. It’s probably not the best game on offer here, though - tasteless underground inflate-‘em-up Dig Dug is a super-intense pure arcade game, where, win or lose, every level is over in 30 seconds.

The rest of the pack is less interesting (boasting as it does two sequels to earlier Museum titles and two ultra-obscure coin-ops from the early 80s), but no less entertaining. Pole Position 2 adds three new tracks to the original’s, and ramps up the difficulty to such an alarming degree that all but the most dedicated and persistent will be left whimpering in a corner of the room. Ms PacMan is PacMan, but with a girl in it, and Phozon is an impossibly strange game involving the player steering an atomic nucleus around and fusing it with other floating nuclei to form preset shapes, while avoiding deadly spinning atoms. Your ‘ship’ can soon end up taking up a quarter of the entire playing area, and few games since Robotron have required the player to keep an eye on as many things at once.

The black sheep of the pack is Tower Of Druaga, a wildly tedious and snail-paced maze game which was apparently a huge smash on the Famicom in Japan many years ago. Edge has no idea why.

The user interface on Volume 3 has also been improved, and difficulty settings, vertical full-screen modes and so on can now be easily accessed from a series of menus in English while the games are actually running, which more or less eliminates the last reason you could possibly have for waiting for Sony and Namco to finally get their fingers out and release the Museum packs in Europe (although collectors note - apparently the US/European versions of Vol 2 will feature Super PacMan in place of Cutie-Q). Get down to your importer now - this is still the finest retro money can buy.

woscomms.jpg (23316 bytes)