You may recall that recently I enthused about Namco’s Star Luster, a Famicom space sim that finally got a Western release on the Evercade retro gaming platform. There’s a video, too.
Well, today we’re looking at the official sequel to Star Luster. It took a very long time to show up, being a title for the original PlayStation, but it was most certainly worth the wait. Star Ixiom brings us strategy and action that remains true to the original Star Luster’s format, while incorporating plenty of Namco fanservice from the UGSF series. You can read more about it here.
Enjoy the space combat action in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more.
Let’s take a moment to catch up. Star Luster is a space combat game by Namco, originally released for Famicom in 1985. Despite it being an obvious homage to an incredibly popular Western game — Atari’s Star Raiders — it never came West.
35 years later, Star Luster finally got a worldwide release as part of the Namco Museum Collection 1 cartridge for Blaze’s Evercade retro gaming system. This was my first contact with a game that I ended up absolutely loving — and after looking into it further, I was surprised to discover it got a sequel for PlayStation in 1999. A sequel which got a fairly middling reception because the press of the time compared it unfavourably to its rough contemporary Colony Wars — and, of course, because relatively few people in the West had any clue that Star Luster existed.
35 years after the release of Star Luster and 21 years after the release of its sequel, I find myself in possession of a copy of that sequel: Star Ixiom, a game I’ve been looking forward to playing since I was first blown away by Star Luster’s sheer playability. So let’s take a look at what this space-based blastathon has to offer — and how well it holds up today.
Continue reading Star Ixiom: Still Shining
Given the popularity of Atari’s Star Raiders, it’s surprising that Namco never brought Star Luster, its own take on the early days of the space sim genre, to Western NES owners.
Thankfully, we can now enjoy it officially outside of Japan thanks to its release as part of Namco Museum Collection 1, cartridge 02 in the Evercade collection. And good Lord have I ever been enjoying this game; it’s absolutely one of my favourites from the Evercade’s launch lineup, and a game I feel it’s a real shame more people don’t know about.
With that in mind, then, I’m doing my bit! Check out Star Luster in action in the video below — and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!
The shoot ’em up genre is, it’s fair to say, fairly dominated by spaceships. It makes sense — a sci-fi tale allows for pretty much unbridled creativity, taking the player on a journey through the stars into the great unknown, battling off hordes of unimaginable horrors from many light years away.
But the fantasy genre is ripe for exploiting in this way, too; much like the more outlandish side of sci-fi, a lot of fantasy has never seemed too concerned with respecting the usual laws of physics, time and space. And as such there’s no good reason why we couldn’t have just as satisfying a time blasting our way through a fantasy tale as we could if we were behind the controls of some sort of comically overpowered spaceship.
Namco evidently felt this way back in 1987 when they released the fantasy-themed vertically scrolling shoot ’em up Dragon Spirit to the arcades. And then they remembered it was still a very good idea a couple of years later when they released quasi-sequel Dragon Spirit: The New Legend for Famicom in 1989, with a North American NES version following in 1990. And this 8-bit home console version can now be enjoyed by a whole new audience today, thanks to its inclusion on the Namco Museum Collection 2 cartridge for the Evercade retro gaming system. So let’s take a closer look!
Continue reading Dragon Spirit: The New Legend – In Case of Emergency, Use Dragon
It’s dangerous, it’s devious… it’s Xevious! Again. This time for the Atari ST, after we’ve previously seen the Atari 8-bit and Evercade versions.
The Atari ST port of Namco’s classic, genre-defining vertical scroller was handled by Probe, a company whose output varied enormously from game to game. As it happens, their version of Xevious was a very solid port of the game… it was just a bit late. All right, a lot late. But at least it showed up eventually!
Check it out in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more!
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!
Continue reading Mappy: Your Move, Cat
Probably the best thing about Blaze’s Evercade retro gaming platform is the fact that the releases so far have specifically eschewed hugely well-known retro titles in favour of hidden gems, lost treasures and just plain previously unlocalised titles.
A great example of this can be seen on the Namco Museum Collection 2 cartridge. Have you ever heard of Warpman? Chances are, unless you collect Famicom games, probably not; it’s a 1985 Japan-only sequel to a fairly obscure 1981 Namco arcade game called Warp & Warp, also known as Warp Warp for its North American release.
Warpman (and, by extension, Warp & Warp, which it closely resembles in gameplay terms) is a particularly interesting game, because it introduces a specific mechanic that, today, is more commonly associated with a later game from a completely different company. But Namco did it first! So let’s take a closer look.
Continue reading Warpman: Another Lost Namco Treasure
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!
Continue reading Xevious: Are You Devious Enough?
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.
Continue reading Dig Dug II: Bring Out the Drill
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!
Continue reading Star Luster: Namco Does Star Raiders