Bought this one for Assault--you don't suppose that Namco spaced out the good games among the mediocre ones on purpose, do you?
"The Return of Ishtar" is a very unusual old mazey game where you control two characters at once: one with the D-pad and one with the four face buttons, each also gets one shoulder button for an attack. Um, very hard and not particularly rewarding, and AI is dumb, the mazes (at least the first couple) are simple yet baffling because the screen only shows a very small section at once, and the graphics and sound are not particularly good. Probably a lot more fun if you played cozy with a significant other on the same controller.
"The Genji and the Heike Clans" is a rather bizarre action game with I guess samurai or ninja played in at least three different modes: normal sidescroller, super-zoomed-in sidescroller, and overhead/isometric scroller. The graphics are ugly, the controls unforgiving, and the gameplay baffling: what sane designer would make a ledge with a constant stream of baddies spawning immediately beneath it, so they just lump up at the bottom waiting for you to jump down (you have no alternative); or make a mode where you're forced to run very quickly forward as big skeletons with sword arms far longer than yours walk up and whack you, with no way for you to avoid them? Ugh.
"Ordyne," a quirky horizontal shooter with colorful, playful graphics and characters and some nifty large-scale sprite rotation effects, is fun but very quickly gets difficult. To buy powerups you have to pick up money items that appear after you wipe out a full enemy formation, then steer your ship into a floating store that happens by. The problem is that the stores only come by at distinct, rather long intervals, and you can only buy one powerup at a time, no matter how much money you have, and you lose all your powerups each time you die, with no way to recover them, so the net result is that if you die you're pretty much screwed when you respawn.
"Pac-Land" seems like an excellent port of the old, odd running-and-jumping arcade game... not sure if it's really fun yet as I can't seem to figure out how to jump past the swimming pool on level two. ARgh.
But "Assault"--oh my. This game amazed me back in the arcades and it's still mightily impressive here, and I doubt the full-screen rotation and scaling could have been any smoother in the arcade itself. There are two control options, both of which work well in their way--shame this came out before dual-analog, ah well, there's still nothing else like launching your tank up into the air, watching the landscape recede to maplike distance, dropping huge bombs on everything that moves, coming back down and driving out to witness the smoldering ruins. Ahh, Assault, you've finally come home.
Vertical or "tate" mode in these games, as in all the Namco Museum releases, run on a screen rotated 90 degrees clockwise rather than the industry-standard 90 degrees anticlockwise. Kind of sucks if you have a screen set up just for vertical play, as you'll have to flip it 180 degrees if you want to enjoy vertical mode on these compilations.
You get past the swimming pool by waggling the stick I think back and forth in midair to extend your running jump off the board into a "glide"--pretty weird and unintuitive gimmick, I guess they must have had a sticker on the arcade cabinet to tell you how to do that? : P
Watched a video of someone who knew what they were doing playing this, there are all kinds of secrets accessed by like pushing against certain things, maybe when having eaten a power pellet.
I thought that was cool but did not enjoy going back to play it again. Exactly *unlike* its inspiration, Pac-Man, the movement in Pac-Land is very slow and kind of momentum-based, where it takes a while to start, stop, and reverse. Bleh. : P