In Japan, the PlayStation 2 era was a fantastic time for budget-priced, arcade-style releases.
D3 Publisher is the indisputed master of janky but charming budget fare in this period of gaming history thanks to its expansive Simple Series, but they didn’t keep this knowledge and experience to themselves. They actually collaborated with Sega on a project dubbed “3D Ages” (“Sega D3” backwards) which ultimately resulted in the Sega Ages 2500 collection — a range of games that retailed for 2500 yen each (about £17.50 in today’s money) and encompassed a variety of remakes of Sega’s classic arcade and console titles.
We didn’t see a lot of these games in the West, but we were fortunate enough to get a cool compilation of them bundled together on a single PS2 disc in the form of the Sega Classics Collection. So let’s take a look at exactly what’s on offer, beginning with Monaco GP.
Continue reading Sega Ages: Monaco GP
One aspect of gaming we’ve lost sight of a bit over the course of the last couple of console generations is the idea of a game that is “nothing but fun”.
I’m talking about mechanics-centric games where the aim is to just have a good time and challenge yourself; games that aren’t trying to “say something”; games that aren’t trying to be artistic in a narrative sense.
This kind of game hasn’t died out completely, of course, but at the time of writing they remain primarily confined to the independently developed, digital-only sector. Capcom’s Under the Skin for PS2, meanwhile, reminds us of a time not so long ago (2004) when this type of experience would get a full retail release and no-one would bat an eyelid.
Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Under the Skin
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
I am one of the least sporty people I know, and I find the prospect of winter sports particularly terrifying. But I’ve always found something appealing about games involving skiing and suchlike.
My interest in this type of game dates right back to the imaginatively titled Skiing on the Philips G7000 Videopac (aka the Magnavox Odyssey 2 for American readers, where the game was known as Alpine Skiing) and the slightly later Winter Games from Epyx for various home computers.
Sometime around the PlayStation 1 and 2 eras, winter sports games started to place a heavy focus on technical, trick-based gameplay rather than the straight racing of early titles such as Skiing. And I kind of missed that simplicity.
Enter Namco’s Alpine Racer 3, the third installment of a series that began as a 1994 arcade title.
Continue reading PS2 Essentials: Alpine Racer 3
Interestingly, for a shiny modern piece of technology, one of the most appealing things about Nintendo’s Switch is the amount of retro gaming funtimes that can be had on the platform.
While at the time of writing the system is yet to launch a Virtual Console service similar to that found on its two predecessors the Wii and the Wii U, some of the disappointment over this is mitigated by the fact that the Switch eShop plays host to a wide variety of excellent arcade ports, including a number of wonderfully enjoyable (and monstrously difficult) Neo Geo games as well as the bundle package we’re concerned with here today.
Namco Museum is a compilation of 10 classic arcade titles from Namco that roughly correspond to the 8- and 16-bit eras of home video gaming, plus a new version of 2003’s Pac-Man Vs., which originally appeared on the Gamecube as a game that made use of the Game Boy Advance link cable for dual-screen asymmetrical multiplayer. There’s something here for everyone to enjoy!
Continue reading Switch Essentials: Namco Museum
Namco’s Ridge Racer may have declined somewhat in terms of popularity and relevance at the time of writing, but there’s little denying that during its heyday, this series was one of the most important franchises in gaming.
Most notably playing a significant role in solidifying the PlayStation’s position as the leading console of the 32-bit era in particular, the Ridge Racer series remains for many the benchmark to which all 3D arcade racers — a sadly dying breed — should be compared.
So where did this all start?
Continue reading Ridge Racer: Where it All Began