By jeffrud 0 Comments
Update 24 May 18: This project turned into its own blog, with its own Ko-Fi button and everything! Check it out, at NamCompendium.com!
I was recently asked by a coworker at HardcoreGaming101 about my top three favorite video game companies. The first two came to me pretty quickly: Nintendo and Sega are virtually tied in my head canon. But what takes the third slot? This required some thinking, but after some thought I realized there was a pretty clear answer. I have always been a quiet fan of Namco.
From whence did this fandom stem? Really, it was an almost subliminal line through my gaming career. I grew up aware of Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man through taverns and pool halls in rural Wisconsin. There was time spent playing R.B.I. Baseball on the first console my family owned, a used NES purchased in 1992. There were encounters with giant Namco arcade cabinets in the late nineties (in arcades, it turns out, that were owned and operated by Namco). There was the mighty Tekken 3, endorsed so heartily by Jeff Gerstmann of GameSpot. Then came the real turning point: Katamari Damacy, a completely bonkers and unconventional game that Namco saw fit to bring to North America for the princely sum of $20. I've been enjoying Namco games in some form or another for going on 29 years now.
So, what's there to do? As it happens, I've started a little project. A project that involves spreadsheets.
I have spent the last month researching release information for basically every single Namco game ever published. The goal of this research is primarily to enhance Giant Bomb's Wiki by providing as accurate as possible of information for the various release dates of different versions of Namco titles. A secondary purpose would be to spend some time with these titles, both to enrich myself and to provide written content for the stub entries that will likely be generated by this project.
So far, to give you an idea of how deep down the rabbit hole I have gone, I would state with 95% confidence that I can provide accurate information on every Namco published or developed game from 1978 through 2005, and am working on establishing firm dates for everything forward from the Bandai merger.
A few provisos:
- Outside of the scope of this project are dates for microcomputers and personal computer release dates. My focus has been on arcade and console release dates.
- Also outside of the scope of this project are dates for mobile platform releases. These two measures are admittedly to maintain my own sanity and prevent this project from ballooning any further than it already has.
- Covered by this project are games that have been a) developed in whole or in part by Namco, including games developed by Namco Bandai after their merger; 2) games published by same, including cases wherein they were published on a single platform or in a single region by same; 3) in at least one extremely odd case I intend to explore, one instance where a Namco property was neither developed nor published by Namco.
The fruits of this work are already available on the site for your pleasure: I have provided more accurate release information for Gee Bee, Bomb Bee, Cutie Q, Xevious 3D/G, Ghoul Panic, Puzzle Star Sweep, Downhill Bikers, and created an entry for the early Namco title SOS. This work will likely continue quietly on the Wiki end for a while, and I intend to provide blog entries of some sort to document this project. These may or may not appear in a "chrono-gaming" format. While I would love to wax poetic and play Jeremy Parish for you all, the truth is I am as inclined to simply provide summary entries that cover spans of time (the first entry may well be covering the entirety of the 70s, though that does include the wildly significant entry Galaxian).
I owe a debt of gratitude to several web sites for providing the data used in this project:
- Gaming-History.com, which I am using as the benchmark for accurate release dates of arcade games unless I can find overwhelming reason to dispute their dates, such as...
- The benevolent or lazy web developers at Bandai Namco, who have left me with a cache of press release information between 1998 and 2000 that has been instrumental in establishing exact dates for many release dates in an otherwise poorly documented period. I have captured these releases in English and Japanese, and intend to sort and post these online at some point.
- Duane Alan Hahn, who has scrubbed through catalogs and contemporary reviews to provide release dates for Atari 2600 games between 1982 and 1983 on RandomTerrain.
- Michael D. Current, who has put together a timeline of Atari dealings from their purchase by Warner in 1976 to 1992 on his personal website. I have used this to cross-reference Hahn's work, and to provide dates for Atari 5200 and 7800 games.
- SegaRetro.org, which is the gospel source for release information on anything ever released on any platform with SEGA emblazoned upon it.
- AtariAge, of which the same could be said for Atari home console platforms.
- David Harley, who put together a FAQ for the Mattel Intellivision which was helpful in determining dates for Namco titles on that platform.
- The PC Engine Software Bible, which is an exhaustive site that provided my PC Engine dates.
- The PlayStation DataCenter, which is an incredible database resource that delves into virtually every release of every single piece of software released on the PS1, PS2, and PSP in every territory.
- TaikoTime.blogspot.com, a fan site which proved a less mentally taxing way of providing information on the myriad releases in the Taiko no Tatsujin franchise.
- Wikipedia, though part of the purpose for this project's existence is simply because this resource has proven alarmingly incomplete and/or inaccurate at many points.
Finally, Giant Bomb has proven to be a pretty good and close to accurate source of information on games cataloged in this project. It has also been my first home on the Internet for six years now, and I hope that this project will help to make this place an even more comprehensive and authoritative reference source for people who care about video game history.
Now, I've got a ton of shit to add to the Wiki so I'm going to get to doing that. Stay tuned for an unassuming story about a man who started a global media company with two wooden horses on a department store rooftop.