What a glorious name for a video game: Cameltry. Say it to yourself a few times. Cameltry. Cameltry. Cameltry.
So far as I can determine, there is no meaning to the word beyond “a 1989 arcade game by Taito”, which is sort of a shame, but, well, a game having such a peculiar name is at least one way to ensure it is memorable.
Fortunately, Cameltry is also a highly enjoyable if often overlooked installment in Taito’s arcade back catalogue, and well worth your time if you enjoy fiddly puzzle games and obstacle courses.
Continue reading Taito Essentials: Cameltry
While I was familiar with most of the other games in the Namco Museum collection for Switch, one that I hadn’t come across before was Sky Kid.
First released in 1985, Sky Kid is a horizontally scrolling shoot ’em up based on the company’s Pac-Land hardware introduced the previous year. Indeed, this fact is fairly obvious, as the two games have a similar aesthetic, and in a later mission there is even a billboard where Pac-Man in his Pac-Land incarnation (sporting arms and legs) makes a cameo appearance.
It’s the first of Namco’s games to support two players simultaneously, and aside from all that, it’s an entertaining, interesting take on the arcade shoot ’em up.
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Dig Dug represents a type of game that doesn’t really exist any more, at least in its original form: what I shall refer to from hereon as “Dirt and Boulders” games.
The idea of a Dirt and Boulders game is that you dig through a bunch of dirt while trying to accomplish something, attempting not to get squashed by inconveniently placed boulders, and occasionally trying to use said boulders to your advantage.
Dirt and Boulders games were big in the ’80s, with titles like Mr. Do!, Boulder Dash and numerous clones of both keeping people entertained both in arcades and at home. But 1982’s Dig Dug was the game that established the template for all subsequent Dirt and Boulders games to follow — and a template that modern offshoots of Dirt and Boulders games, such as Minecraft, Terraria and suchlike, have somewhat drifted away from in favour of crafting and exploration.
Continue reading Namco Essentials: Dig Dug
Some games are utterly timeless, remaining just as fun today as they were back on their original release.
Namco’s Galaga is definitely one of those games, though it’s also a title the company has taken great pains to keep “relevant” over the years with numerous re-releases, the most recent at the time of writing being as part of the Nintendo Switch version of Namco Museum. It even showed up as one of the company’s “loading screen games” in the PS1 era, putting in an appearance during the initial load time for the original Tekken.
It’s had a number of sequels and remakes since it first showed up in 1981, but there’s an endearing purity to the original that is hard to beat, making it a true classic from gaming’s early days.
Continue reading Namco Essentials: Galaga
I’ve always had a soft spot for block-breakers, ever since Arkanoid on the Atari 8-bit, and Puchi Carat makes me happy in all the right ways.
Combining elements of traditional classic block-breakers with mechanics from puzzle games such as the Puzzle Bobble/Bust-a-Move series, it’s an enormously addictive, highly unusual game that is simultaneously unique and absolutely representative of the time in which it came out.
In short, if you like adorable late ’90s anime style characters, coloured things going “pop” and gameplay that is as much about skill as it is about intelligence, Puchi Carat is definitely a game that you should check out.
Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: Puchi Carat
The technological constraints of old video games often led to some highly creative experiences.
In logical or narrative terms, these games would often make very little sense whatsoever, but taken from a strictly abstract, mechanical perspective, they had the potential to provide extremely compelling, addictive experiences.
One such example was 1983’s Zoo Keeper, a game developed by Keith Egging and John Morgan from Taito’s American division. This game clearly drew influences from a number of popular Eastern and Western games such as Qix, Donkey Kong and Frogger, ultimately leaving it as a rather intriguing and underappreciated title with a strong sense of its own identity.
Continue reading Taito Essentials: Zoo Keeper
Elevator Action is an established classic of the ’80s arcade scene, and saw a wide variety of ports to most of the popular computer and console systems of the period.
While the original game is still relatively well-known today, many people remain unaware that Taito followed it up with an official sequel in 1994, some eleven years after the original game’s release.
These people are, of course, also unaware that Elevator Action Returns is an absolutely awesome game, even from a modern perspective.
Continue reading Taito Essentials: Elevator Action Returns