How do you mess this up?
I love Pac-Man, I really do, but this is not a very high quality collection. Let's go game by game, shall we?
Pac-Man, Pac-Mania, Pac-Attack, Pac-Land, Championship Edition, and Battle Royale work as intended, as far as I can tell. Pac-Mania looks really washed out and some of the music sounds like a garbage disposal is going off, but hey, it was always like that. And of course, Pac-Land is like, some kind of shoddy MS Paint platformer. It's alright. A smaller version of CE is included in the superior and faster paced CE DX (The Championship 1 stage), which is already on Steam, so if that's what you're after, you should probably check that out first. Battle Royale is best played with friends, having no proper scoring system (each player is assigned a title like "Most Pac-Man Eaten," or "Won Most Rounds"...etc etc.). There is no online component to speak of.
Some of the games seem to have emulation problems. In Pac & Pal, sometimes the ghosts freeze and jitter in place. The same thing happens in Super Pac-Man. I somehow doubt this was intended behavior. In Ms. Pac-Man (which, by the way, costs $5 to download after March) the player's sprite seems to wiggle around when heading up or down.
And I just want to take a minute to talk about Pac-Man Arrangement here. You may be thinking it's THIS
game, but in fact it is some other, uglier, sort-of related but also not related at all type 3D game from the PSP Namco Museum, with some tedious bosses and slow freakin' ghosts. I have no idea who could have looked at both of these side by side and said "Yes, this
is the better version." Why not include both Pac-Man Arrangements? Why are there two games called the same thing in the first place?
The menus are okay. You can unlock badges from getting achievements in the games, which themselves unlock character models and maybe other stuff, I don't know; I haven't played long enough. Each game has some options, but no option to turn off the really bright borders around the screen. Not a deal-breaker in itself, but odd.
So then comes the matter of price. Is $20 worth it for these games, and then $5 additionally for Ms. Pac? Considering Namco has released many much more fully featured, and properly emulated collections in the past
for typically similar prices, I'd have to say: unfortunately, no. Heck, if you can navigate the Japanese PSN store, you can find all the old PS1 Namco Museum collections, and those are still as awesome as ever, complete with actual "virtual museums" to walk around in filled witth all kinds of obscure pamphlets and magazines and such. The version on my phone is better! And as far as I'm concerned, nothing has topped Tengen's Ms. Pac-Man port on the Sega Genesis/Megadrive.
So if you get anything from this review, it's that classic Namco arcade games are awesome, but this is not the best, or even a "good" way to play them as it is right now. Find some other way to play these games, unless this gets a major patch and a price drop. Sad times.
P.S. the cartoon sucks too.