Friday, December 12, 2014

Re-introducing: Namco Gallery (GameBoy)

On my birthday last year, I bought myself the trio of games that can be seen in the photos throughout this post.

Even though they arrived on my doorstep shortly after, I failed to photograph them--or, you know, otherwise acknowledge their existence--until earlier this week.

Anyway, the boxes look pretty nice lined up as they are in the shot above, don't you think?

Something you probably can't make out by looking at said photo (unless you click on it to blow it up): the frames featured on each volume's box art include elements that tie in to one or more of the four games contained on that particular cart.

The frame featured on Namco Gallery Vol. 1's packaging, for instance, includes depictions of Mappy's titular police mouse (above) as well as Nyamco (below), the game's antagonist.

(The frames featured on the covers of the second and third volumes include similarly delicious depictions of Dig Dug, Sky Kid and The Tower of Druaga characters.)

The backsides of the Namco Gallery boxes aren't as thrilling as the front sides, unfortunately, but they do give folks a nice look at the colorized versions of each compilation's games.

Just in case you've forgotten which games are included on which Namco Gallery volume, the first one contains pint-sized versions of Battle City, Galaga, Mappy and Namco Classic (a golf sim); the second offers up portable iterations of Dig Dug, Famista 4 (baseball), Galaxian and The Tower of Druaga; and the third consists of Family Tennis, Jantaku Boy (mahjong), Sky Kid and Tower of Babel ports.

My favorites are the most well known titles of the bunch: Dig Dug, Galaga, Mappy and Sky Kid, with the first game's puzzlerific (no, that's not a real word) "New Dig Dug" mode alone being worth the price of all three cartridges, in my humble opinion.

This portable re-imagining of Dig Dug is the only one of the above-mentioned ports to earn a North American release, by the way. I've wanted to own a complete-in-box copy of it for ages now due to its striking box art, but price-gouging eBay sellers have kept me from realizing those desires.

See also: a previous post with a bit more information on the Namco Gallery games


Zach said...

WOW those are incredible boxes (the games are great too)!!

Your blog is a constant reminder to me that 1) boxart was one of the best things about games back in the day and 2) a lot of boxart today stinks on ice.

Obscure Video Games said...

Interesting, I had no idea there was a special mode for Dig Dug like this. I just tried it, and it's pretty fun. Do any of the other games have modes like this? said...

I like it, too, Steve. It's a completely different beast from the action-focused arcade mode, and although I'd be hard-pressed to call the "new" mode better than the original mode, I still think it's a nice change of pace.

Unfortunately, as far as I'm aware, Dig Dug is the only game on any of these compilations that features a "new" mode. I only know that for a fact about Babel, Galaga, Mappy and Sky Kid, though, so it's possible some of the others have modes that aren't present in their original arcade or console counterparts. said...

Glad I could excite you in such a way, Zach!

Also glad I'm able to remind you of the brilliance of retro-game box art :)

That said, I think there are plenty of modern examples of great game box art. Sure, a lot of it sucks, but that was the case back in the day, too!

Zach said...

Ah, yeah, you have a point! I guess hindsight is 20/20. There is still some fun stuff. Although tins are typically not that great looking, I think my favorite "recent" game box was the special edition of Final Fantasy XII. But I just feel like artwork/cool design is usually thrown to the side since people think the graphics can now sufficiently get across whatever it is the game's about. Which is alright in some cases, but I mean... I feel like it loses some of it's imaginative properties. said...

You may be right that, in general, box art is less creative today than it was in the past, but I still say there are a LOT of examples of great box art these days. Just look at some of the great box art created for DS games, for instance. (And I'm talking mostly about Japanese DS games here.) The PSP had some great box art, too. So don't lose hope yet! :)

TheGameroomBlitz said...

FWIW, there's a special expanded version of Mappy in the Japanese Game Gear release. Levels are larger and more labyrinthine, and the dated 1980s electronics used as prizes have been replaced with, uh, dated 1990s electronics. said...

Yep, I've known about the extra mode in Mappy GG for some time now. In fact, I'm pretty sure I published a post about it a year or two (or more?) ago. It's certainly a nice change of pace--much like the "New Dig Dug" mode mentioned here.

That said, I think Steve was asking specifically about the Namco Gallery GB games. And in that case, I'm pretty sure Dig Dug is the only one with an extra mode.

It's possible, though, some of the games I know very little about (Battle City and the sports games, especially) have modes that weren't present in their original counterparts...

TheGameroomBlitz said...

Just mentioning it for Steve's sake.

What's amusing is that in the Mappy Arrangement that was released in arcades, Mappy is paired with a cooler, Don Johnson-esque police mouse in shades. It was a little late for a Miami Vice tribute in 1996, but okay, I'll allow it! said...

I thought as much, Jess! I just wanted to make sure he realized you weren't talking about the version of Mappy that's included in these GB compilations.

Was that Mappy Arrangement title ever released on consoles? I feel like it was, but I can't remember. Either way, I haven't played it ... but now I want to! XD