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
The MoeGamer Awards are a series of made-up prizes that give me an excuse to celebrate games, concepts and communities I’ve particularly appreciated over the course of 2017. Find out more and suggest some categories here!
Today’s category comes from… well, me, because I wanted to write about it. I’ve really taken to collecting games over the last few years, particularly quirky, interesting or rare Japanese titles that don’t typically get a lot of attention — fodder to write about, in other words — and have spotted a few trends this year that may be of interest to those seeking to expand their own collection.
Specifically, if you’re not particularly attached to the idea of always being totally “current” with your game collection, or if you’re keen to see how far things have come (or not!) over the course of the last 20 years or so, these are the systems you might want to focus your collecting efforts on.
And the winner is… err, winners are…
Continue reading The MoeGamer Awards: Best Retro Systems to Collect For in 2017
Nintendo’s new miniature SNES Classic system is here, and it’s a historically significant release for one big reason: Star Fox 2.
Fully developed but never released due to its completion near the end of the SNES’ lifespan (and the subsequent birth of the Nintendo 64), Star Fox 2 has existed in limbo for a long time now. A few times over the years, ROMs claiming to be the full game have shown up, but they’ve generally been early alpha or beta builds, not offering quite the full experience that Nintendo originally intended for the game.
Now, in 2017, we can finally play Star Fox 2 in its original form as it was always intended to be played. Was it worth the wait?
Continue reading SNES Essentials: Star Fox 2
Although it was quite a few years ago, I have some vivid and fond memories of my first experiences with what I now know to be visual novels.
I commonly attribute my present love of visual novels to 2012’s Katawa Shoujo, but in fact my earliest encounter with the medium was some years earlier. This was back when I first discovered an interest in Japanese popular media in general thanks to a combination of promotional Manga Video VHS cassettes my brother brought home on one occasion, and the discovery that I really liked JRPGs thanks to Final Fantasy VII.
Those early visual novels had a pretty strong impact on me, and I was delighted to discover that there are ways to play them once again on modern machines — more on that later.
Continue reading My Earliest Visual Novel Memories
Roguelikes have been around for many years now, but in recent years we’ve seen an explosion in popularity of more accessible games that present a friendlier face to this notoriously obtuse genre.
Well-received Western indie titles such as Spelunky, Rogue Legacy, Dungeons of Dredmor, FTL and numerous others helped popularise (and, some may argue, dilute) the roguelike genre. At the same time, games such as One Way Heroics and the Mystery Dungeon series helped develop the genre in a distinctively Japanese direction.
But this development isn’t quite as recent as you might think. In fact, we’ve had accessible console-style roguelikes since the 16-bit era, though many may not have been aware of “roguelike” as a genre at the time. And a great — if particularly punishing — example can be found in the form of Sega’s Fatal Labyrinth (aka Shi no Meikyuu: Labyrinth of Death, no relation to Compile Heart’s MeiQ: Labyrinth of Death) for Mega Drive.
Continue reading Mega Drive Essentials: Fatal Labyrinth