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
While they’ve fallen a bit out of fashion in more recent years, tanks have been an important part of the gaming landscape pretty much since its dawn. (Then, of course, they trundled right over said landscape, flattened it and blew it up.)
Indeed, one of the earliest competitive games — Atari’s Combat for 2600, released in 1977 — is most well known for its highly enjoyable two-player tank battles, though the game’s myriad modes also incorporated a variety of other vehicles.
Namco got in on the tank battle action in 1980 with its arcade title Tank Battalion, subsequently followed up by spinoff title Battle City for Famicom in 1985. Then, finally, we come to 1991’s Tank Force, the game that we’re concerned with today — and an underappreciated arcade title that is well worth your time to check out.
Continue reading Namco Essentials: Tank Force
One of the most interesting inclusions in the Nintendo Switch release of Namco Museum is Pac-Man Vs.
Originally released for GameCube in 2003, it’s an unusual title for Namco in that it wasn’t developed in-house as an arcade game; rather, it was designed by the legendary Shigeru Miyamoto and developed by Nintendo specifically for the GameCube, which perhaps explains why we haven’t seen it rereleased for anything other than Nintendo DS (via that platform’s own Namco Museum release) and, most recently at the time of writing, Switch.
It’s also noteworthy as one of the first examples of asymmetric multiplayer gameplay, which makes the fact it never got a release on Wii U somewhat baffling. But, well, it’s a bit late for that now!
Continue reading Namco Essentials: Pac-Man Vs.
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.
Continue reading Namco Essentials: Sky Kid
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
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