Developed by Namco and released into arcades in 1984, Pac-Land is a departure for the Pac-Man series because this time it’s a platform game. And a pretty good one at that.
Unlike Ms. Pac-Man and Jr. Pac-Man, Super Pac-Man was developed by Namco themselves in 1982, so could be considered the first ‘official’ sequel to Pac-Man.
The fact is: it is arguably inferior to both the aforementioned Midway Pac-Man games, which is a little embarrassing. That said: it is still a decent game in its own right; maybe not quite as ‘pure’ or ‘hardcore’ as Ms. Pac-Man and Jr. Pac-Man, but good nonetheless.
Known as “Puck Man” in its native Japan, and renamed as “Pac-Man” in the West*, this 1980 video game is one of the most iconic brands ever created in the history of the human race. And I’m not being funny here – Pac-Man is actually seen by historians as exactly that: instantly recognisable to most people and indelibly fixed in our consciousness.
Rolling Thunder 3 is a Sega Megadrive/Genesis exclusive. It was developed by Now Production and published by Namco in 1993. It did not appear in arcades, like its predecessors did.
Rolling Thunder 2 continues on from the classic Rolling Thunder: it’s secret agent “Albatross” against the sinister agents of “Geldra”, except this time you can play the game as the rescued Leila (from the first game) from the outset. Or, you can play two-player cooperatively with a friend, which you definitely couldn’t do in the original.
Rolling Thunder is a side-scrolling arcade action game, developed and manufactured by Namco in 1986.
You take control of Codename “Albatross” – a highly-agile secret agent and a member of the “Rolling Thunder” espionage unit. Your mission is to rescue your partner, Leila Blitz, from a secret society called “Geldra”, and who are holding her against her will somewhere in New York City.
Rolling Thunder is split into two ‘stories’, each one comprising of five different stages, making ten stages in total. The stages in “Story 2” are essentially harder versions of those seen in “Story 1”, with different enemy placement and more traps, which is a little disappointing. At the end of the game there’s a battle with the Geldra boss, Maboo, to free Leila. Getting there is quite a task, though, because if you lose a life during any stage you have to start at the beginning again. There are no ‘waypoints’ or ‘save points’, and there’s also a time limit on each stage, so you can’t dawdle.
Codename Albatross starts out with a bog standard pistol and can upgrade weapons as he goes. All the way up to a fully-automatic machine gun that fires continuously if you hold down the fire button. Ammo is strictly limited though, so you can’t just go blasting away willy-nilly. You can however replenish your ammo in special doorways that say “bullet” on them. Simply stand in front of one and push up.
The most memorable thing about Rolling Thunder is the animation of the main character. It’s very Japanese, very distinctive, and very dynamic. With his pointy shoes and flares – rockin’ that mid-Eighties look… Kind of a cross between Sonny Chiba and James Bond. That animation style has been noticeably influential on other games over the decades though.
Like a lot of old arcade games, Rolling Thunder is extremely challenging. There are a variety of enemies – all colour-coded in different outfits and each behaving differently. Some fire guns, others throw grenades; the lowest common denominator henchmen simply have their fists to rely on. There are also weird ape-like monsters that leap around like crazy, and some surprisingly laughable bats. In later stages the obstacles start getting trickier (like the tyres, for example) and you then have to be more careful with your moves. Thankfully you have a ‘Life Bar’ so at least you don’t die with one hit, but even so: Rolling Thunder is not easy.
Rolling Thunder is still playable enough to be enjoyable today. It might be hard, but at least it’s fair. And still looks reasonably stylish. A sequel followed four years later, and a third game three years after that.
This 2003 remake of Namco‘s SNES classic Tales of Phantasia was the first time the game had been officially translated into English.
While much of the game remains the same, there are a few differences.
Tales of Phantasia is an RPG developed by Wolf Team, and first published for the Super Nintendo by Namco in 1995. As JRPGs go, it is quite memorable.
Namco‘s classic arcade sequel was initially released in 1987 in Japan – 1988 everywhere else – and proved a big hit with shoot ’em up fans with its fast graphics and colourful, firework-like explosions.
Mr. Driller on the Game Boy Color is just as good as its parent, with colourful, cute graphics, jolly tunes, and vertical digging action.
As in the original, the aim is to dig downwards to the exit, avoiding being squished by falling blocks, and without running out of air. You can replenish Mr. Driller‘s air by drilling special capsules although these are few and far between.
Mr. Driller on the Game Boy Color was published in 1999 by Namco.