Review: Evercade Namco Museum Collection 2
The Namco Collection 1 featured some classic games and was generally a strong showing for the Evercade. Can the Namco Collection 2 top it? Let’s find out.
Galaga – 1985
I said in my Galaxian review that I get these two games mixed up. Now I’ve been able to play both, I still think they are very similar and it’s hard to choose between the two. I think I prefer Galaga mainly because the enemies are a bit more varied in their attacks. Other than that, Galaxian and Galaga are both fantastic games. 4/5
Warp Man – 1985
In Warp Man you control a little space dude who has a gun. The object of the game is to destroy a certain number of aliens before moving onto the next level. This is fairly straightforward except you can’t move diagonally or fire in that direction. This makes things more difficult, especially as the bad guys shoot back at you. The centre of the screen is a warp and every now and then it will flash. If you enter you will be transported to a grid-based area where your movement is more restricted. Your weapon also changes from a gun to an explosive timed mine which can be dropped by the bad guys. You can warp back again to the first screen when the opportunity presents itself. Warp Man takes elements of Dig Dug and Bomberman and for those reasons alone I quite like it. It has a nice pick up and play feel and is good fun to pass the time. 3/5
The Tower of Druaga – 1985
This is a maze-based adventure game where you control a knight. The object of the game is to find the key and escape the maze. Standing in your way are blobs of various colours. You have a sword to defend yourself but it’s as useful as fighting with a toothpick! I quite enjoyed The Tower of Druaga, but the combat is woeful and lets it down. Despite only having to press a button to swing the sword, it seems to have a delayed reaction and it doesn’t move as quickly as you need it to. Also, when you do swing the sword, you must be in exactly the right place to hit the monsters otherwise they will kill you. The Tower of Druaga had potential but I ended up getting frustrated very quickly. On the plus side it has some excellent music. 2/5
Dig Dug 2 – 1986
How do you follow up a classic like Dig Dug? Well, you add new gameplay elements and change the setting for a start. Dig Dug 2 now sees you above ground on an island. The gameplay is like the original where you must clear the world of bad guys. You have your trusty inflator to pump up the baddies, but you now have a pneumatic drill which can be used to destroy parts of the island. Use it to your advantage and you can collapse part of the island and take out a few of the enemies. But you must be careful. Cut away too much and you can find yourself in the sea. Plus cutting away chunks of the island means you have a smaller area to move making your life more difficult. I’d never played Dig Dug 2 before and I’m sad to say it was a disappointment. The new gameplay feature of cutting away the island doesn’t work for me, and it just isn’t as much fun to play as the first game. 2/5
Dragon Spirit: The New Legend – 1989
Xevious featured on the Namco Collection 1, and I loved it! Dragon Spirit is very similar in a lot of ways, but with the main difference being the setting. Dragon Spirit focuses on mythology rather than science fiction as you control a dragon instead of a spaceship. The controls and gameplay are pretty much identical with you being able to shoot forwards, but also fire against enemies who are on the ground. Dragon Spirit: The New Legend is an excellent shooter. If you enjoyed Xevious, then I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of this. 4/5
Burning Force – 1990
Burning Force is very similar to Space Harrier which sees you piloting a hover bike as you take on enemies which are flying towards you. There are special weapons available including bombs and missiles. This was fairly average and was nailed on for a 2/5 score until I reached the boss battle. At this point your bike turns into a spaceship, and you have full control rather than only being able to move left and right. Burning Force is ok, but it doesn’t have the magic that made games like Afterburner and Space Harrier such classics. 3/5
Phelios – 1990
This collection is loaded with vertical scrolling shooters and Phelios is another excellent addition. It’s like Dragon Spirit but instead of controlling a dragon, you control Pegasus. The mechanics are slightly different as you have a powerful charge shot to unleash upon your enemies. However, you must hold down the fire button for a few seconds which leaves you vulnerable. There are also power ups you can collect which make you more manoeuvrable and give you better weapons. Phelios is a great shooter, and I really liked the Greek mythology setting. Like a lot of these type of games, it is quite difficult, but could that be down to my aging reactions? 4/5
Splatterhouse Part 2 – 1992
Way back in 2016, I wrote a retro review on the original Splatterhouse. You can check that out here. Having read it again, my thoughts about the sequel are very similar. I love the setting and tone of Splatterhouse 2, but it’s the difficulty which lets it down for me. The difficulty options are:
- Normal – which is already freaking hard
- Difficult – which I’m too scared to try
- Game Master – what the hell!
For shits and giggles I decided to see what happens with the different difficulty settings and each one determines how much life you start with. Play on normal and you get four hearts, play on game master and you get two. Why would you decide to make an already difficult game harder for yourself? Splatterhouse 2 is more of the same over the top violence, and boy is it hard! 3/5
PAC-ATTACK – 1993
It wouldn’t be right for a Namco collection without including a PAC-MAN game, so this time we get PAC-ATTACK. I’d never played this game before and on first impression I thought it looked like a Tetris rip off. This is partly true, but it has a PAC-MAN spin on it. Blocks fall down the screen and you must arrange them to fill the bottom which clears the line. If the screen fills up, then it’s game over. So far so Tetris. However also featured are ghosts which appear as part of the blocks. These prevent you from completing the lines, but you have PAC-MAN to help clear them out. Every 3 lines the ghosts get scared and can be eaten by PAC-MAN. The strategy is trying to line up the ghosts, so you take out as many as possible. This is easier said than done. PAC-ATTACK is a terrific puzzle game, albeit a tough one. The blocks seem to fall faster than a regular Tetris game and I’ve barely been able to get past wave 15. That being said, this is a very addictive game and despite the difficulty, I find myself going back to it. 4/5
Splatterhouse 3 – 1993
Splatterhouse 3 is a bit like comparing Streets of Rage to Streets of Rage 2. Streets of Rage was fun, but SOR2 took it to a whole other level. Now don’t get me wrong Splatterhouse 3 is nowhere near as good as SOR2, but it’s a big improvement over Splatterhouse 1&2. Now, instead of just moving left and right you can move in all directions. This time you are exploring a mansion as you try to save your wife. You initially have 5 minutes to reach her and unfortunately, I didn’t get there in time. The game didn’t end, so I’m not sure if you’re supposed to make it in time. The biggest improvement is the combat. Instead of one hit kills, you can now punch, grapple and pick up enemies. It’s not as nuanced as SOR2, but it’s as good as Turtles in Time or Batman Returns. You can also pick up power ups which hulk you out temporarily giving you super strength. Splatterhouse 3 is a lot of fun and a great addition to this collection. 4/5
Weapon Lord – 1995
Fighting games were huge in the 90s, so trying to make them unique was not easy. Weapon Lord tries to buck the trend by giving each character a unique weapon. There is also a healthy dose of blood to get your heart pumping. There are 6 warriors to choose from but if I’m being honest, nothing about them stands out. There is a mixture of male and female fighters, but they all look like barbarians or rejects from Golden Axe. Despite this, I was looking forward to playing Weapon Lord as I like fighting games. The attacks follow a similar pattern to Streetfighter 2 with light, medium and heavy attacks. My biggest problem with Weapon Lord is it didn’t feel great to play. There is no real impact with the combat and despite its attempt to be bloodthirsty, it felt a bit limp. Plus, the lack of character from the combatants meant I wasn’t really bothered by trying the different fighters. 2/5
If you’re like me and enjoy collecting all the cartridges available for the Evercade, chances are you already own this. However, if you’re a bit more selective about which collections you buy, the Namco Collections 1 & 2 are essential purchases. They both feature some absolute classics, as well as some great games you may never have played before. Recommended!
The Namco Collection 2 (and other retro titles) are available on the Evercade.