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[Feature] Namco Roulette: An Introduction to Pac & Pals

Posted on December 22, 2014 by (@Patricklous) in 3DS, 3DS eShop, Features, Game of the Month, News, Wii Shop Channel, Wii U, Wii U eShop

Author: Patrick

Part of the appeal of Super Smash Bros. to me is the history behind it all. With their large cast of characters, range of collectibles and obscure music picks, I always seem to be discovering new games with each installment. The original game introduced me to Earthbound, while Melee first brought Fire Emblem to my attention. This new Smash Bros.’ cast of newcomers are largely from games released in the last few years, but what I find interesting how Namco-Bandai’s involvement in development resulted in Namco’s history finding a way into the game.

Pac-Man is one of my favourite characters to play as in the new Super Smash Bros. and it’s partially due to his “Namco Roulette” taunt. This taunt involves Pac-Man summoning a bunch of old Namco sprites from the company’s golden age for a quick cameo, but there’s no trophies or anything to give context to these characters. With that in mind, let’s look at all these Namco icons as we take either a trip down memory lane. Namco have a legacy of creating incredible arcade titles that still persists to this day –I’ve been hooked on Mobile Suit Gundam Extreme Vs. Full Boost lately- and it’s great to see it represented in Smash Bros. in some form. So let’s start by traveling thirty-five years back in time…

Galaxip – Galaxian (1979)

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Galaxian might be heavily influenced by Taito’s Space Invaders, but this game, which was the first to use RGB graphics, does things different enough to be interesting. The enemy Galaxians are incredibly aggressive and attack by both firing shots and descending in squads to divebomb your ship, the Galaxip. The Galaxip might show up as Pac-Man’s taunt, but it’s the Galaxian flagship that he wields as an offensive weapon, throwing it to catch opponents off-guard with its looping movement. Like the bonus fruit he throws, the flagship was also an item that granted extra points in the original version of Pac-Man, among other Namco games. It’s probably more iconic than the Galaxip itself! Galaxian was the first Namco title to appear on a Nintendo platform when it was ported to the Famicom in 1984.

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An enemy formation has appeared!

Nintendo equivalent: Sheriff – He’s a gun-toting sharp-shooter from 1979, just like the Galaxip.


King – King & Balloon (1980)

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You’ll want to protect this King, since it’s Game Over if he gets carried off-screen by a squadron of multicoloured balloons. Standing in their way are the King’s loyal subjects, who can shoot down the balloons with their cannon before they lift him off into the stratosphere. While this cannon might make the same noises as the Galaxip, it’s actually invincible so it’s only a minor setback if the balloons touch it – it’s the King who has to be defended at all costs! King & Balloon was one of the first games to make use of speech synthesis as the King repeats the only phrases anyone needs to know: “help”, “thank you” and “bye bye!”. He has a different voice depending on whether you’re playing the American or Japanese version of the game, though his appearance Super Smash Bros. for 3DS only uses his Japanese one. “Sankyu!”

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He’s falling! Danger! … But don’t worry.

Nintendo equivalent: Princess Daisy (Super Mario Land) – Both are royalty who wear yellow and get kidnapped by aliens. And going by Mario Kart: Double Dash they also appear to both have very limited vocabularies.


Ghost – Pac-Man (1980)

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There are a bunch of different ghosts who appear in the Pac-Man games, but the original quartet of persistent poltergeists are named Inky, Pinky, Blinky and Clyde. Each of them have their own colour and movement patterns, but will turn blue and run away once Pac-Man chows down on a Power Pellet. Maybe that’s why this particular ghost doesn’t look too happy to be here – just look how huge Pac-Man is by comparison. The Ghosts also show in Pac-Man’s smash attacks and as an assist trophy where they’ll wreak havoc on the entire stage and no, eating one of Pac-Man’s Power Pellets won’t help.

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The whimsical Support Ghost.

Nintendo equivalent: Ghost (Streetpass Quest) – These shielded spectres also come in a range of colours and are designed to ruin your day.


My Car – Rally X (1980)

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It’s My Car, but it could be Your Car if you play Rally-X! You might think Rally-X would be a racing game, but it’s actually a fast-paced game about exploring mazes like Pac-Man. Perhaps this is what all rally races will be like in the future. The goal is to collect all the flags scattered around the twisted circuit, but there are red rival cars that’ll hunt you down – and everyone knows that red cars go faster. Your car’s only defense is to deploy a cloud of smokescreen that’ll temporarily stun the other cars, but it’ll quickly drain your fuel. There is also a special flag hidden somewhere in each level; unlike their appearance in Super Smash Bros., these flags won’t net you any extra lives since that’d make the game a bit too easy, but they’ll give out a welcome boost to your score. A bonus CHALLENGING STAGE appears after every few stages, or so I’ve heard since I’m absolutely terrible at Rally-X. Apparently I’m not the only one as the game was followed up by the significantly easier and more popular New Rally-X.

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PSHHHHH! It releases a cloud of coloured smoke!

Nintendo equivalent: Mach Rider – Both are from driving games that mostly involve crashing into things and haven’t been relevant since the ‘80s.


Fighter – Galaga (1981)

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Galaga expanded on Galaxian in a number of ways, including a much cooler ship to control. Sure, it didn’t have a name, but this fighter could shoot much faster and could even combine with another ship for double the firepower. If your fighter is captured by a “boss” Galaga’s tractor beam (who also appears in Smash Bros. as a pesky item) you must recover it by shooting the boss down as doing so lets you team up with the captured ship. Taking on the insect-like aliens with double the fighters is a big risk, but it makes the bonus “Challenging Stages” a lot easier. Can you beat the current high score of 15,999,990 points?

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The power of the jet multiplies the destructive force!

Nintendo equivalent: Ice Climber – Another Famicom-era fighter who is even tougher when they team up with a fellow Ice Climber. The Galaga Fighter is also not playable in the new Super Smash Bros.


Fighter – Bosconian (1981)

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This ship might look almost identical to the Galaga Fighter, but it behaves completely differently. This fighter can actually move in all directions, though it’s not really moving – the world scrolls around it. It can fire shots forward and backwards, which is necessary since enemy ships will tail you. The key to victory is taking out all the enemy space stations, but you’ll need to be quick; taking too long on the mission will set the condition to “red” and unleash a swarm of enemies. Bosconian made use of heaps of synthesized voice work to warn players of incoming attacks, but it’s not clear who’s supposed to be speaking. Is it someone speaking over the radio to the pilot or is it the fighter itself making its feelings known?

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Cut through an epic space battle!

Nintendo equivalent: Fi (The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword) – ALERT! ALERT! USE YOUR MISSILES TO SHOOT DOWN THE ENEMY BASE! ALERT! ALERT! THE WII REMOTE’S BATTERIES ARE RUNNING LOW!


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