Category Archives: Namco

Rolling Thunder 2: Leila Takes the Lead

Rolling Thunder is a classic Namco title with good reason. Its slower pace, methodical gameplay and learnable patterns make it an obvious precursor to the stealth games of today.

Its 1990 sequel offers more of the same in many ways — but with considerably enhanced visuals, refined mechanics and presentation and an all-new option to enjoy the game with two players simultaneously.

It’s not nearly as well known as its predecessor, but it’s a great game in its own right. And, conveniently, it’s part of the Namco Museum collection on Nintendo Switch!

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Splatterhouse: Elements of Horror

Yes, yes, yes, I know it was Halloween yesterday and thus I was supposed to cover a spooky game then, but I was busy then, so you’re getting it now instead.

Splatterhouse is a classic 1988 horror game from Namco, and there are a variety of ways you can play it today — the most recent and readily accessible of which is the excellent Namco Museum on Switch.

It’s also a very interesting game to look back on from a modern perspective, given how popular horrific, gory games have become as the gaming medium has matured.

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Namco Essentials: Libble Rabble

At the time of writing, people are getting seriously excited for PlatinumGames’ next release, Astral Chain — and with good reason!

As the release approaches, we’re starting to learn more and more about the game: what we can expect from it, what sort of experience it will be and what its main inspirations are.

In the latter case, an interview by Polygon reveals that a particularly strong influence on director Takahisa Taura was an obscure 1983 release from Namco, developed by the creator of Pac-Man. I give you Libble Rabble.

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PS2 Essentials: Ace Combat: Squadron Leader

The Ace Combat series is a jewel in Namco’s crown that people sadly seem to forget about quite often — though hopefully the seventh installment due early in 2019 will rectify that to an extent.

The series mostly stretches across the PlayStation and PlayStation 2 eras, with a less well-received (but still enjoyable) spinoff installment in the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 era. For most, the series’ peak was with its PS2 installments; opinion varies as to which one of these is really “the best”, but they’re all very much worth your time.

At the time of writing, we’ve already talked about fourth installment Distant Thunder (aka Shattered Skies), so today let’s take a look at the fifth game, known as Squadron Leader in Europe, and The Unsung War elsewhere. It’s a good ‘un.

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Taiko no Tatsujin Drum ‘n’ Fun: Plastic Drums and Music Most Definitely Mix

A little while ago, I offered my first impressions on the demo version of Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun! for Nintendo Switch.

I came away from the experience less than enamoured with the game’s motion controls, but starting to understand the appeal of the game when I switched to playing with buttons.

Despite my slightly tepid response to the demo, I came to the conclusion that this was still a game I wanted to support a Western release of… so I splurged on the £90 game-and-drum bundle which comes with a standard copy of the Switch game, and the HORI-made USB drum accessory. Let’s take a closer look!

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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.

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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.

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