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
You don’t just play Pole Position — you FEEL it!
Thus ran the back-of-box blurb for the official Atari 8-bit conversion of Namco’s classic “vanishing point” racer — one of the most important, influential video games of all time. Said conversion was extremely solid, and a big hit for my whole family back in the day.
See how I get on with the world’s most explosive Formula 1 cars in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more.
We’re all pretty accustomed to arcade-perfect conversions these days, but what about back in the ’80s where programmers had to make home versions of arcade games from scratch without any handy emulation?
The results varied enormously — at least partly because in some cases the programmers in question didn’t have any original source material to work with — but there were a few very solid examples over the years.
One pretty great arcade conversion for Atari 8-bit was the Atari-published version of Namco’s Pac-Man. It’s certainly better than the notorious 2600 version!
Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.
Rolling Thunder is a classic Namco title with good reason. Its slower pace, methodical gameplay and learnable patterns make it an obvious precursor to the stealth games of today.
Its 1990 sequel offers more of the same in many ways — but with considerably enhanced visuals, refined mechanics and presentation and an all-new option to enjoy the game with two players simultaneously.
It’s not nearly as well known as its predecessor, but it’s a great game in its own right. And, conveniently, it’s part of the Namco Museum collection on Nintendo Switch!
Continue reading Rolling Thunder 2: Leila Takes the Lead
Yes, yes, yes, I know it was Halloween yesterday and thus I was supposed to cover a spooky game then, but I was busy then, so you’re getting it now instead.
Splatterhouse is a classic 1988 horror game from Namco, and there are a variety of ways you can play it today — the most recent and readily accessible of which is the excellent Namco Museum on Switch.
It’s also a very interesting game to look back on from a modern perspective, given how popular horrific, gory games have become as the gaming medium has matured.
Continue reading Splatterhouse: Elements of Horror
At the time of writing, people are getting seriously excited for PlatinumGames’ next release, Astral Chain — and with good reason!
As the release approaches, we’re starting to learn more and more about the game: what we can expect from it, what sort of experience it will be and what its main inspirations are.
In the latter case, an interview by Polygon reveals that a particularly strong influence on director Takahisa Taura was an obscure 1983 release from Namco, developed by the creator of Pac-Man. I give you Libble Rabble.
Continue reading Namco Essentials: Libble Rabble
I always find it interesting to head back to a series’ roots to see what has changed and what has stayed the same over the years.
I was particularly excited to start from the beginning of the Ace Combat series, since it’s one I’ve come to really enjoy in the last few years, and I sense there’s still quite a lot I’ve missed out on.
Would the original PS1 release from 1995 be worth revisiting today, I wondered?
Continue reading Delving Into Air Combat – #1