Gaming History 101

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Posts Tagged ‘namco

Podcast: Klonoa Door to Phantomile Game Club

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This week Fred and Jam discuss the action platformer Klonoa: Door to Phantomile.  Released by Namco in 1998, this was really a 2D side-scrolling title releasing when the industry had moved to 3D, but that doesn’t hinder its ability to be a fun and enchanting experience.  As always, our hosts (along with chat) delve into the development, concepts, and gameplay.


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Written by Fred Rojas

January 11, 2017 at 11:00 am

Posted in game club, podcast

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Podcast: 2017 on the 5s and 10s

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In what has become an annual tradition, Jam and Fred delve into the past in 5 and 10 year intervals.  In 2017 that means any decade in gaming history that ends in either a “7” or a “2”.  There’s a great deal to be had and the time flies far too fast, but we guarantee you’ll learn something you didn’t already know.


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Klonoa: Door to Phantomile Review

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Some titles just never seem to fair well in the West. Klonoa is a cute cuddly anthropomorphic animal, he kinda looks like he’s a cross between a dog, a cat and maybe a rabbit. In Japan this cute fella was incredibly popular and his Playstation game rocketed to the top of the charts for sales. Then Klonoa made his happy debut in the West and things just didn’t seem to fair well for the poor guy. The problem you see is we are horrible people over here in the West. Gamers here are hungry for blood like vicious hyenas, and that’s why games like Tomb Raider did well. If we have a platformer it better have attitude like Crash Bandicoot or be in 3D like Spyro the Dragon. Klonona failed to perform well and in turn the game become very rare and sought after to Playstation collectors in the West. I was lucky enough to rent this game back in 1998. Fortunately with the power of PSN, I was able to download the game to my PSP and see what this cuddly adventure has to offer and what we folk in the West failed to see.

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Written by jamalais

June 9, 2016 at 11:00 am

Review: Splatterhouse 2

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Splatterhouse_2Console: Sega Genesis (Mega Drive in Europe/Japan)
Released: 1992
Developer: Now Production
Publisher: Namco
Digital Release? Yes – Wii Virtual Console (US/Japan only), also as an unlockable on the 2010 Splatterhouse on 360/PS3
Price: $35 (used, cart only), $87-$105 (used, complete), No known New pricing (all prices according to PriceCharting.com), $8 (VC), $4-10 (used 360/PS3 copies of 2010’s Splatterhouse)

Now I remember very fondly getting this game with my brothers when we were younger. My dad deliberately chose it for us because of the title since he was a fan of horror and gore. A game, whether brand new or pre-owned, in our household was rarer than a UFO sighting when we were younger so we  relished in any game thrown at us. Splatterhouse 2 shared a special place in our little hearts.

splatterhouse_2_1The story of Splatterhouse 2 will depend on your familiarity with the first game released in arcades and the TurboGrafx-16.  The basic plot is you are Rick and you have a mask which looks a lot like the Jason Voorhees hockey mask (he was the killer in the Friday the 13th series) and your job is to rescue your girlfriend, Jennifer.  The mask is known as the “terror mask” or “hell mask” depending which version of the game you own. The mask gives you super powers and also sort of possess you as it talks to you during small cutscenes between levels.

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Written by jamalais

June 5, 2014 at 11:00 am

Retro Review: Afro Samurai

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afro_boxAfro Samurai has identity issues. It’s not that the character does, anyone who has watched the cartoon series knows that Afro is quite aware of his personality to a fault. While the game works very closely with the cartoon series, despite the game’s claim in various moments to convince you it’s deterring from the original plot (a few major points are changed, but you have to know the series to catch them), the game itself doesn’t know what it wants to be. On the positive side, it does manage to sprinkle these various types of games in a relatively strong light.

Any fan of the series will feel right at home as Namco Bandai have captured the aesthetic feel perfectly. The original gritty feel of the anime allowed for a cell shaded game that literally brings the series to life, complete with the player controlling a living, breathing (and smoking) Afro Samurai. Couple this with a great mix of sound design and everyone’s favorite Samuel L. Jackson (voicing Afro’s loudmouth sidekick) making a mockery of both Afro and the player at the same time and the immersion is complete. That is, until you begin getting later in the game.

For starters, Afro Samurai is a short game; it took me probably five and a half hours to complete and there is no initial choice in difficulty. It starts off with a few levels of good old fashioned hack-and-slash gameplay, teaching you some moves here and there, and occassionally having you fighting a boss. I have to admit that while many people may find this repetitive, I felt right at home with the button mashing bloody mess that begins the game.

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Shortly after that, in the quarry level to be specific, the game begins to deter from its original pattern and takes on several new qualities. Timing becomes very important as you enemies begin to learn how to consistently block, parry, and even throw you. Additionally you are forced to do things like split bullets in mid air and cut thick ropes that require a timed slash, which took me a while to figure out was connected to the controller vibrating. That is the one thing you’ll slowly learn about Afro Samurai, it consistently assumes you know things you’ve never been taught. More than a few times I’d confront a situation or a boss battle and wonder how the hell I was supposed to do it, and while it took everything in me not to consult a walkthrough, I found no sense of accomplishment when finally figuring things out. It usually ended with me loudly exclaiming, “Really? Really!” and then moving on.

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Written by Fred Rojas

February 26, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Review: Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures

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pacman_boxNormally I wouldn’t see myself even taking a second glance at a title like this. Thanks to the re-invention of shovelware on the Wii and subsequent titles of its ilk, it’s not a good day to be a 3D rendition of a classic game. Couple that with Chip’s lackluster impressions of the multiplayer – which were spot on – and I did not go into Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures with high expectations. To my surprise this title is a rock solid 3D platformer that can almost serve as a pseudo Kameo 2, borrowing most of its gameplay elements from that title, but there just isn’t enough here to justify even the budget price associated with it.

Pac-Man has never done well as a platformer. Whether it’s with the 16-bit era titles in the Pac-Land series or really anything Namco has done with him other than re-creating the original game, there just doesn’t seem to be anything there to differentiate these games from all the rest, until now. Pac-Man’s world has changed quite a bit. He’s back in high school (and apparently appropriate age despite being older than I am), the four ghosts that plagued him in the original arcade title are now his friends, and he loves to wear different hats that grant him special powers. None of this begins to define a worthwhile game until you start playing the initial levels and using early hats like the frost beam or the iguana that have grounded but useful applications. Then you realize the level design compliments these powers well and a bit of Mario nostalgia sneaks in. Pac-Man retains the eating ghosts mechanic and can even use a “scare” power to turn them blue and devour them old school style. Before you know it you’re having a blast traversing the game’s six worlds, all borrowed from video game tropes of old, and you don’t want to stop playing.

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Written by Fred Rojas

November 11, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Podcast: Street Fighter x Tekken

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This week Fred is joined by special guest Obi (@ObiWanJabronE) to discuss two of the most beloved fighters of the 90s.  Street Fighter II was a title that most consider to be the definitive 2D fighter of all time and Tekken is widely regarded as one of the best 3D fighters.  We cover the history 0f both titles, initial impressions, and why Street Fighter II was so damn popular in the UK.

Opening Song – Rising Dragon (Ryu’s Theme) from Street Fighter EX Plus

Closing Song – Jin Kazama’s Theme from Tekken 3


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Written by Fred Rojas

June 19, 2013 at 11:00 am

Xevious (Namco)

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Xevious is one of those games that doesn’t get the credibility it deserves despite being so easy to find on almost every console.  I think it’s because it does a lot of things other shmups do, even though in many cases it did them first, and therefore gamers are drawn to the more popular titles.  Back in 1982 when Namco released it into arcades – it would be released into US arcades by Atari and have the strongest port on the NES, if you believe that – the textures were amazing for the time.  This game also had both air and ground weapon that had their own button so it was up to you to use the right armaments.  Even today many vertical shmups don’t discriminate between ground or air when you blow things up, so it added a complexity to the game.  It was also one of the first games to introduce in-level bosses with central “cores” you had to destroy.  What still turns me and probably many other gamers off is that if you die you restart the level unless you’ve completed 70 percent of the area, at which point you will move on to the next level.

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 25, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Shmuppreciation 2012

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Galaga (Namco)

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Just as America was tapering off from “Pac-Man fever” (we were obsessed with Pac-Man in the late 70s), arcade powerhouse Namco unleashed Galaga on us.  While it was quite popular and generated plenty of income for Namco, Galaga has always been the counterpart to the Pac-Man series that wasn’t as lucrative – it’s often bundled together with Ms. Pac-Man in re-released cabinets.  That’s not to say that Galaga doesn’t have its rightful place in American history, these days it’s more popular with my friends (and in bars, no less) than more traditional arcade staples.

Some may not know this, but Galaga is actually a sequel of Galaxian, which was released a year earlier in 1980.  Galaxian was basically a clone of Space Invaders that improved on the formula by featuring full color graphics versus the two colors of Space Invaders and had the enemies drop in pattern formations from different parts of the screen.  It also removed the barriers at the bottom.  Galaga updated the formula even more by allowing the ship to fire more than one bullet at a time, awarding bonus points for clearing stages and had an enemy that could capture your ship.  If your ship was captured you would lose a life but it would remain in possession of the thief until you destroyed it, at which point the ship would join your current one and you could fire with two ships.  This becomes a tactic that those in the high score world tend to take advantage of, although I’ve met a few that prefer to keep their ships out of alien possession.

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Written by Fred Rojas

March 22, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Shmuppreciation 2012

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