Category Archives: Companies

Classic titles from specific developers and/or publishers from over the years.

Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle: It’s The Belt For You, Lad

Those of you who read my coverage on Senran Kagura: Estival Versus will know how much I enjoy the beat ’em up genre… and how much I appreciate its history.

With that in mind, Capcom’s announcement that it would be releasing a new product simply called Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle made me kiss £15.99 goodbye even before the package was released. Doubly so because it was also coming to Switch… and who doesn’t want to bust some heads on the go?

Today we’ll take a high-level look at the package as a whole, then over the course of a series of Capcom Essentials articles in the coming weeks, we’ll explore the individual games in the collection in more detail. Suffice to say for now that £15.99 is a very fair price for this bundle, and I highly recommend it to all fans of the genre.

Continue reading Capcom Beat ‘Em Up Bundle: It’s The Belt For You, Lad

PS2 Essentials: Energy Airforce

A core part of my gaming “diet” in the 16-bit home computer era and onwards into the early days of mainstream PC gaming was the military flight simulator.

I have many fond memories of piloting numerous pieces of military hardware around the virtual skies, dropping bombs on filthy commies (this was the height of the Cold War, after all) and dictators in the desert — but for me, it wasn’t necessarily the action-packed parts of these games that was appealing. No, it was the simple satisfaction of remaining in control of several tons of metal that really had no business being up in the air and not immediately plummeting to the ground.

This was a feeling I hadn’t really experienced for a while, to be honest; the Ace Combats of the world have their considerable appeal, but they’re not exactly realistic. Taito’s 2003 release of Energy Airforce, on the other hand… well, let’s take a look.

Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Energy Airforce

Taito Essentials: Lunar Rescue

When someone mentions Taito arcade games from the 1970s, the first one that doubtless immediately springs to mind is the genre-defining Space Invaders.

However, this is far from the only game Taito put out in these early years of the games business — and moreover, it’s far from the only good one, too.

Today, we’re taking a look at a game that, while simple, built on the basic formula of Space Invaders with additional mechanics — and likely played a role in defining subsequent games with “rescue” mechanics such as Williams’ Defender and Dan Gorlin’s Choplifter.

Continue reading Taito Essentials: Lunar Rescue

Namco Essentials: Galaga ’88

Arcade-era Namco was good at sequels. Not from a story perspective, mind — the sequel to “shoot the aliens” tended to be “shoot more aliens” — but definitely from a mechanical perspective.

One of the best things about arcade-era Namco’s handling of sequels was that they remained recognisably true to their source material while innovating in their own right. Galaga ’88 (also known as Galaga ’90, Galaga ’91 and Galaga 2 depending on where and how you played it back in the day) is one of the best examples of this, as the fourth installment in the Galaxian series.

Galaxian built on the basic premise of Taito’s Space Invaders by featuring a more dynamic arrangement of enemies. Galaga built further on this format with more dramatic enemy formations and movements. Gaplus — one of the few games in the series to not get many home ports, particularly back in the day — added powerups and vertical movement. And Galaga ’88 well, read on.

Continue reading Namco Essentials: Galaga ’88

Taito Essentials: Super Qix

Super Qix is an immensely irritating follow-up to an immensely irritating game.

And, like all the really good immensely irritating games of the world, there’s a magic ingredient in there that keeps you coming back for more.

Super Qix is also an interesting game from a historical perspective, in that it’s a game that Japanese developers decided to build on after an all-American original.

Continue reading Taito Essentials: Super Qix

Namco Essentials: Pac-Man Championship Edition 2

Poor old Pac-Man’s been put through the wringer since his first appearance in 1980.

He’s gone on adventures, been platforming, attempted to educate the masses and even kicked the snot out of his fellow video game icons. But somehow it always comes back to doing what he does best: munching his way through mazes while attempting not to, in turn, get noshed off by ghosts. (Although some people are into that.)

Pac-Man Championship Edition 2 is Namco’s latest attempt to put an interesting twist on the original Pac-Man formula. And it’s a ton of fun.

Continue reading Namco Essentials: Pac-Man Championship Edition 2

Namco Essentials: Rolling Thunder

Proper “spy games” are something I don’t feel like we see a lot of any more, perhaps since fascination with the concept waned somewhat with the end of the Cold War.

That said, there are tons of awesome “spy games” from back in the day that we can still enjoy, and Rolling Thunder, a 1986 arcade game from Namco, included on the Nintendo Switch version of Namco Museum, is a great example.

Initially appearing to be a fairly straightforward, early example of “run and gun” gameplay, spending a little more time with Rolling Thunder reveals a tightly designed game that shows first impressions aren’t always entirely accurate.

Continue reading Namco Essentials: Rolling Thunder