PlayStation PlayStation 2

Namco Museum And The Lost Arrangements

Namco Museum PlayStation 2 Title Screen

Namco Museum

Developer: Mass Media
Publisher: Namco

Going through some of my old things, I've come across a relic which if you've read the title and seen the featured image, you can take a wager at what I've found. Namco Museum on the PlayStation 2 was one of several versions of titles with the same name released from 1999 to 2002. The Namco Museum series is an ongoing anthology series of various Namco arcade classics released in a single package. The series debuted on the Sony PlayStation, from 1995 to 1998, released in five volumes representing the letters N - A - M - C - O. The final game in the series, Namco Museum Encore, finalized the word with a registered trademark symbol, thus completing "Namco®."

Over the span of six volumes, 38 titles were featured, including Pac-Man, Rally-X, Baraduke, Mappy, and Xevious among others. While this was the definitive edition for most of Namco's arcade classics, its exclusivity on the Sony PlayStation meant that there were other platforms for Namco to invest in. A year after Encore, a Nintendo 64 version titled Namco Museum 64 was released. The Sony PlayStation was able to hold more memory in its CDs than the Nintendo 64 cartridges and as such, rather than porting all six volumes and 30+ games, Namco downsized. Developed by Mass Media, Namco Museum 64 featured six titles.

  • Pac-Man (1980)
  • Ms. Pac-Man (1982)
  • Galaga (1981)
  • Galaxian (1979)
  • Pole Position (1982)
  • Dig Dug (1982)
A complete Namco Museum PSX set. Source: ebay

What's amusing about this list is that the game would also release on the Game Boy Advance as a launch title for the North American release yet Pac-Man wouldn't be included. Imagine having a Namco Museum with no Pac? It did have Ms. Pac-Man which in my opinion is the superior Pac-Man game but that's another retrospection for another time. All Mass Media Namco Museum titles forgone the first five volume's museum aesthetic in favor of a simple main menu design.

Part of the appeal of the first five volumes was the bright and colorful designs as the menus were a "first-person" tour of a virtual museum. While this would be something we wouldn't see in a Namco Museum title again, the simple menu designs made finding a favorite game far easier than before. A year later, the Sega Dreamcast port was released, featuring the same line-up of the Nintendo 64 version, rounding out the original Namco Museum trilogy.

In late 2001, the PlayStation version of Namco Museum was released, but it was vastly different from the Dreamcast, N64, and Game Boy Advance versions. While the line-up was the same as its predecessors, this version included six more titles, increasing the number of games from six to twelve. This version would be ported to the Gamecube and Xbox a year later.

  • Pole Position II (1983)
  • Galaga Arrangement (1995)
  • Pac-Man Arrangement (1996)
  • Dig Dug Arrangement (1996)
  • Pac-Mania (1987)
  • Pac-Attack (1993)

Two of the six titles, Pac-Mania and Pac Attack, were hidden, requiring the player to earn a high score in certain games in order to unlock them. The other three games that were included are the focus of this retrospection, as all but one have yet to see another proper release in any capacity be it a compilation or a single entry.

The three "Arrangement" titles, Galaga Arrangement, Pac-Man Arrangement, and Dig Dug Arrangement were from a pair of arcade exclusive titles known as the Namco Classic Collection released in 1995 and 1996. Both volumes featured three Namco arcade titles and three "Arrangement" versions, which were modern versions of the titles to give them a fresh coat of paint for the nineties. The six titles included Xevious, Mappy, Galaga, Dig Dug, Pac-Man, and Rally-X. Unfortunately, with the exception of Pac-Man, Galaga, and Dig Dug, none of the original arcade Arrangement titles were ever released outside of the arcade for consumers.

Pac-Man Arrangement as featured in Namco Museum (2001)

Outside of this version of Namco Museum, it would take over two decades for the original arcade Pac-Man Arrangement to release on a console platform via Pac-Man Museum+. This was a fairly recent title, so the fight to bring the rest of the Arrangement arcade titles to future compilations lives on. Dig Dug Arrangement and Galaga Arrangement are still in limbo but at least players can experience these titles through an obscure version of Namco Museum. However, a quick Google search will reveal that games like Dig Dug Arrangement had appeared on other compilations, specifically the PlayStation Portable. So, what gives?

There's a reason why I prefaced "Arrangement" with "arcade" because the PlayStation Portable versions are not based on the arcade versions at all. In fact, these titles have little to do with the original games whatsoever and shouldn't bear the distinction of carrying the "Arrangement" title. Released in 2005, Namco Museum Battle Collection was released months after the PSP's launch, including 18 arcade titles and four new "Arrangement" versions, three of which were from Namco Museum. In actuality, all of the Arrangement versions from this game were recreated from the ground up with entirely new assets, opting for a "modern 2.5 Pac-Mania style" aesthetic.

The end result is something that looks like an early 2000s IMVU page which I guess at the time was cool, but I hated the redesigns back then as I do now. PlayStation 2's Namco Museum is something of a sentimental title to me as it was one of the few video games that my mother used to play a lot when she was alive. There were three distinct titles that I remember, two of which I plan to get to, but I wound up playing Namco Museum more. She was always a Pac-Man fan due to our family friend and I would branch out to other Namco titles due to my obsession with Tekken at the time.

The Arrangement titles were a perfect example of mid-90s arcade games. The soundbites, graphics, and fluidity of the controls were way ahead of their time. Pac-Man Championship Edition would incorporate many of Pac-Man Arrangement's mechanics and would release over a decade later. Nowadays, Mass Media is still around as an outside source to help other developers with their projects as well as developing some licensed titles of their own. Pac-Man Museum+ seems to be the ultimate Pac-Man collection right now, with Namco Museum still releasing as there are more platforms to release their anthologies to.

Players who are interested in a glimpse of the arcade Arrangement titles that are currently lost in time can still purchase the original Namco Museum on PS2, Gamecube, and Xbox. At the time of this writing, I've seen listings for this game go for less than $20 which is a steal to experience a piece of history. Hopefully one day Bandai Namco can release a proper compilation of the arcade Arrangement titles. Who knows how many undiscovered arcade titles are out there also lost in the depths of time?

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