Monday, 19 April 2021

Namco Collection 1 and 2 (Evercade Review)

Getting Namco on board has proved to be an excellent move from the Evercade team. This has allowed access to a wealth of arcade games and excellent home console titles. The Japanese giant has such a huge back catalogue that the company could realistically continue to supply software for many years to come. The first two Namco collections are quite different but both are worth looking at.

Namco collection one is perhaps the least interesting of the two but that is not to say there isn’t anything here to get excited about. There are eleven titles present with most of them being solid conversions of arcade classics such as Pacman, Xevious and Mappy. If you like the arcade games there won’t be anything to put you off these versions. There are a couple of more interesting titles here as well such as quirky platformer Mappy Kids and duel controlled curio Little Rabble.

Most notably, Super Nintendo strategy game Metal Marines. It’s somewhat pricey to get hold of the original version now so having this slightly obscure title included is a real bonus for Evercade players. The game mixes basic resource management with balancing attack and defence. Players are on one island and have to deal with an opponent on another one separated by water. You can do this by firing missiles or sending over mech soldiers in order to find the enemy bases and destroy them.

It’s not a game for the faint of heart and attacks come often and with ferocity. Even level one will catch gamers off guard until they get used to building a proper defence of turrets and AA missiles. Once you settle in though the game will last you hours as you gradually edge your way towards the later levels.

The second Namco collection of eleven games ups the overall interest and quality level considerably. There is not a single game here which could be called bad and most are excellent. Joining a further host of arcade conversions such as the wonderful Dragon Spirit and Galaga are the notorious Splatter House games.

We’ve never player the games before and are happy to report that even as a newcomer to the series both have a lot to offer. The gruesome aesthetic and hard hitting nature of the action is somewhat unique and really helps to set a bleak and unsettling atmosphere. We found Splatter House 3 to be the strongest with the exploration elements and ability to move around the field of play more freely giving it a more ‘console game’ feel. It’s a solid length as well and begs to be replayed often.

Splatter House 2 is more linear in its approach and only allows movement left and right but is still great fun to play. Some would no doubt argue it’s a bit more focused than its sequel because of this but it’s just great to see both of the games holding up so well. Anyone looking for a real challenge should head towards brutal 2D fighter Weapon Lord though. Crazily complex, the downside here is that you’ll likely need some kind of guide to get the most out of it (maybe something for Evercade to think about putting on the carts in the future).

There’s a few surprises here as well such as Warp Man which proves to be a great top down, single screen, action game which has some Bomberman elements to it and Pac Attack which proves it’s more than just another Tetris clone.

Overall, both of the Namco collections are worth getting hold of. The addition of Metal Marines to the first collection moves it above the level of simply a ‘solid pack-in title’ to something far more interesting and collectable. The second collection is just an example of how to put an all-round excellent package together. The surprises included and showcasing of the Splatter House games have created another addition which really is in the echelon of being a system seller and stands as one of the strongest overall collections on the system.

 

Game Ratings

Collection 1

Battle Cars          2/5

Dig Dug                3/5

Galaxian               4/5

Little Rabble       3/5

Mappy                  3/5

Mappy Kids         4/5

Metal Marines      5/5

Pac Man               4/5

Quad Challenge     2/5

Star luster              3/5

Xevious                4/5

 

Collection 2

Burning Force                    3/5

Dig Dug 2                             3/5

Dragon Spirit                      4/5

Galaga                                  4/5

Pac Attack                           4/5

Phelios                                  4/5

Splatter House 2               4/5

Splatter House 3               5/5

Tower of Duraga               3/5

Warp Man                           4/5

Weapon Lord                     3/5

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