Tag Archives: Famicom

Mappy: Your Move, Cat

Mappy is perhaps not one of Namco’s most well-known arcade games from the early days — here in the West, anyway — but it’s still one that the company frequently acknowledges and pays tribute to.

Many of the cars in the Ridge Racer series feature “sponsorship” by the series, for example, and the first Mappy title, which we’re concerned with today, was successful enough to spawn several sequels. There was even an animated series made in 2013 as part of Namco’s ShiftyLook initiative, but sadly this is no longer officially available.

Whether you’re a longstanding fan of the series or a newcomer, you can now enjoy the original Mappy’s NES port as part of the Namco Museum Collection 1 for the Evercade retro gaming platform. So let’s take a closer look!

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Titan: Break Out, In and All Around

How do you improve on a classic formula? It’s a question many artists have explored over the years, and an easy answer for a lot of them seems to be “add more stuff”.

Atari’s Breakout is an immensely influential game, which subsequently begat Taito’s wonderful Arkanoid and all manner of other imitators from over the years.

French developer Titus Interactive observed that most Breakout clones over the years stuck rigidly to the “paddle at the bottom, single screen of blocks” formula. So in 1988, they set out to make something a bit different. The result was Titan, a title that has been newly resurrected for modern audiences thanks to the Interplay Collection 1 cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming system.

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Xevious: Are You Devious Enough?

Namco really were trailblazers back in the early days of gaming; so many of their titles were true pioneers.

Much of the vertically scrolling shoot ’em up genre as it exists today owes a lot to 1983’s Xevious, for example. Xevious established or at least popularised genre conventions such as making use of different weapons for different targets, regular confrontations with powerful enemies and dynamic difficulty scaling.

Namco’s port to the Famicom became one of the system’s first “killer apps”, selling a mighty 1.26 million copies — and it still plays great today. And wouldn’t you know it? You can play that 8-bit console version on the Evercade retro gaming system thanks to the Namco Museum Collection 1 cartridge. Let’s take a closer look!

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Dig Dug II: Bring Out the Drill

Dig Dug is one of those retro games that is an established classic, but which relatively few people seem to be aware actually got a rather enjoyable sequel.

Most of this is likely due to the fact that the 1985 arcade original was only released in Japan, and the game wouldn’t come West until the 1989 release of the NES version. And, well, good luck to any mid-’80s 8-bit arcade-style game releasing in the same year that gave us Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, Phantasy Star II, SimCity, Populous, Mega Man II, Golden Axe and an early incarnation of Windows Solitaire.

Still, that doesn’t mean Dig Dug II should be consigned to the dustbin of history by any means. It’s fortunate, then, that we can try it out for ourselves on the Namco Museum Collection 2 cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming system! Let’s take a closer look.

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Star Luster: Namco Does Star Raiders

One of the great things about the Evercade retro gaming handheld is its unofficial mission to bring a variety of overlooked, underappreciated or unlocalised retro gaming titles to a worldwide audience.

The publishing partners who have signed up to distribute their games on the platform are seemingly more than happy to jump on board with this philosophy too — and this is especially evident with the two Namco Museum Collection cartridges, which not only provide the classics we expect to always see on such compilations like Pac-Man and Dig-Dug, but also some lesser-known titles, some of which never officially left Japan on their original platforms.

Part of the reason for this is the Evercade’s initial focus on retro home consoles, whereas Namco’s own Namco Museum releases have historically tended to focus on the arcade side of things. And so, we come to Star Luster, a 1985 release for the Famicom that never came West. Until now!

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Final Fantasy Marathon: Ultimania – Final Fantasy II #11

Today’s Final Fantasy II adventure sees Firion and friends continuing their ascent up the Mysidian Tower, one-shotting bosses along the way.

At the tower’s peak, the elusive Ultima Tome, source of a magic spell that didn’t work properly in the original Famicom version of the game — and the first appearance of a spell that would become a series mainstay from hereon.

But wait, isn’t that Minwu? Wasn’t he in the fourth party slot for a wh– oh.

Dig Dig Mine: Cake or Death

Don’t you love it when you find a happy little bonus; something unexpected on top of something you already like?

I encountered one of my own this week. I’ve been following a bunch of Japanese and Korean erotic artists on Twitter recently — partly to satisfy my bottomless libido and partly to drown out the endless negativity of Western Twitter — and I was delighted to discover that one of them is not only into drawing pretty girls flashing their pants at you (NSFW, obviously), but also into making loving homages to retro-style games.

That artist’s name? Albe– wait, no, that’s something else. That artist’s name is @ryokuchamichi, also known as “Green Tea Area”, and the first of their games I’d like to share with you is Dig Dig Mine, which you can snag your own copy of for a mere ¥200 (about $2) over on Booth, a Pixiv offshoot focusing on independently developed digital art of various forms — including video games.

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Vice: Project Doom – Secret Agent Man

I’d not heard of Aicom’s Vice: Project Doom (aka Gun-Dec in Japan) prior to Nintendo adding it to the Switch’s NES app. And neither, it seems, had a lot of Switch owners, since its addition to the lineup attracted even more complaining than you usually find underneath a Nintendo social media post.

I looked into it, though, and I was both intrigued by the prospect of the game… and unsurprised that no-one seems to have heard of it, despite it having had a Nintendo Power cover feature in May of 1991. It did, after all, come out at the very tail-end of the NES’ mainstream lifespan — and after the Super NES had helped bring console gaming into the 16-bit era.

It’s a shame that no-one’s heard of it, though, because it’s really frickin’ good. Let’s take a closer look.

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Donkey Kong 3: Shot Up The Arse, And You’re To Blame

When you’ve developed a successful franchise, the natural thing to do with a sequel is to throw everything that made the previous games good out the window and try something completely different.

I’m being facetious, but this is actually something Nintendo has done more than once over the course of several of its classic series’ lifetimes. Sometimes it works indisputably well — few people would consider the reskinned Doki Doki Panic that we Westerners know as Super Mario Bros. 2 to be a “bad” game, for example, despite how different it was from its predecessor.

Sometimes, though, we get something like Donkey Kong 3, and no-one is quite sure what to make of it. And that’s kind of why I really, really like it.

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NES Essentials: Wrecking Crew

Wrecking Crew is one of Nintendo mascot Mario’s more underappreciated adventures — and a fairly underappreciated entry in the NES’ overall library, in fact.

First released for Famicom in June of 1985 and subsequently as one of the 17 launch titles for the Western Nintendo Entertainment System, Wrecking Crew is something of a departure from what you might typically expect from a Mario game — even outside of the main Super Mario Bros. series.

It’s a puzzle game with a strong emphasis on strategic thinking and forward planning rather than fast action or precise platforming, and it’s actually been one of my favourite games in the NES’ library since I first encountered it via the Wii’s Virtual Console service. Let’s take a closer look.

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