Kurt Kalata is an ardent video gamer from New Jersey. He has founded websites such as The Castlevania Dungeon, which focuses on Konami's long running, vampire slaying series, and Hardcore Gaming 101, which gives comprehensive reviews focusing on the history of gaming. His most recent book is Bitmap Books' A Guide to Japanese Role-Playing Games. In addition to his own sites and books, his writings have appeared in Retro Gamer magazine, Time Extension and at 1up, Siliconera, and Gamasutra.

HG101 Digest Vol. 6: Namco Arcade Classics by Kurt Kalata

Namco was the master at creating unique and interesting characters for their 80s and 90s arcade games. Revisit some of these classics with the sixth Hardcore Gaming 101 digest! This book includes comprehensive reviews of two of the company's golden age titles, Mappy and Dig Dug, and also examines games like their spy-themed run-and-gun Rolling Thunder, their buddy-cop racing/shooter Lucky & Wild, and the madcap multiplayer brawler The Outfoxies. It also includes looks at their lesser known properties, many of which were only released in Japan, including the Valkyrie series, Dragon Buster, Marchen Maze, Genpei Toumaden, Youkai Douchuuki, Wonder Momo, and Bravoman, plus Mirai Ninja, Namco's foray into film/gaming crossovers.


Remakes and remasters are all the rage, and HG101's Kurt Kalata remains an expert on what makes these classics so enjoyable. This volume explores many of venerable coin-op maker Namco's best games, and some of its most obscure. – David L. Craddock




Namco is basically a company with dual histories. Internationally, they're known for games like Pac-Man and Galaga, groundbreaking classics in the golden age of arcade gaming. In Japan, however, they also had a reputation for their offbeat, quirky output, often based on creating unique and interesting characters. Since they relied on overseas partners for their distribution, Americans and Europeans never really got to see most of these titles, at least until both MAME and the Namco Museum line gave them greater exposure.

This digest seeks to cover both of these aspects of Namco's history. For the "popular" side, I chose Dig Dug and Mappy. Dig Dug was fairly well known, though it also had plenty of sequels that tend to be forgotten, which are fun to explore. Mappy, on the other hand, never quite caught on the same way, at least in America. Since it wasn't really ported as extensively as Namco's other games, I didn't experience it until long after its prime, at my bachelor party at the Barcade in Jersey City. All the same, I was immediately enamored with it, and I hope to help explain its appeal to those who have yet to discover the title.

For the company's "quirky" side, I picked a lot of games that I had never really heard of until the 2006 release of Namco x Capcom for the PlayStation 2. It wasn't localized, and probably one of the reasons was because so many of the Namco characters were unknown. There was Bravoman! And Wonder Momo! And the kid from Youkai Douchuuki (Tarosuke)! And the dude from Genpei Toumaden (Kagekiyo)! Some of these games weren't necessarily great, but they did speak to an era that's largely unknown to English speakers, and I wanted to explore this further. A few other interesting games, like the highly underrated Outfoxies, and the forgotten multimedia project Mirai Ninja, are included here as well. Honestly, this edition only scratches the surface of Namco oddities, as there's so much else out there (Tower of Druaga, Numan Athletics, so many weird Pac-Man games) we could definitely do another volume.