A lot of games that really stand the test of time are based on a very simple idea.
This is particularly apparent in the puzzle game genre, which typically involves little more than matching shapes and colours in one form or another. And indeed said genre is home to some absolutely timeless classics that are still getting rereleases and reimaginings today.
One puzzler from the early days of gaming that often seems to get forgotten, however, is Sega’s Columns — and that’s a bit of a shame, because it’s an interesting twist on the usual falling block puzzle format.
Continue reading Puzzler Essentials: Columns
What happened to ninjas? I feel like they were unironically cool in the ’90s, and that they were everywhere.
Perhaps they simply learned that being highly visible is not an especially desirable characteristic for a ninja, and thus deliberately relegated themselves to the world of overly tryhard “wacky!” memes alongside pirates, dinosaurs and zombies. Put them all together and you get LOL SO RANDOM, yo. And these days, everyone wants to ignore that nonsense. The perfect cover.
Anyway, here’s Shadow Dancer for the Mega Drive, a 1990 release from Sega and one of the first games I ever played on the system.
Continue reading Mega Drive Essentials: Shadow Dancer
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
Oh, Digital Age. You bring such convenience to our lives, but no-one told us there would be a cost!
After our lengthy Sega discussion on the pilot episode of The MoeGamer Podcast, I was in the mood to boot up After Burner Climax on PS3. Thankfully, this has sat proudly on my PS3’s hard drive ever since I bought it back on its original release back in 2010… because you can’t buy it online any more!
Yes, After Burner Climax was one of the earliest casualties of the age in which we live, getting delisted from both the Xbox 360 Marketplace and the PS3’s PlayStation Store in 2014. So join me as we pour one out for an arcade classic for which you really had to be there…
Continue reading Requiem for a Dead Game: After Burner Climax
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
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
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