Dig Dug (Virtual Console Arcade)
Without a doubt one of my favourite arcade games growing up – probably because it was one of the few I was really good at. Though retconned by Namco into Taizo Hori (Mr. Driller’s dad), Dig Dug is a blue guy in a white suit in this game. In another bit of Mr. Driller-related trivia the Pooka and Fygar monsters in Dig Dug appear as random encounters in the adventure mode of the Gameboy Advance game Mr. Driller A!
Dig Dug drills through earth like we walk through air and uses his drilling apparatus to inflate monsters until they explode. A bit on the odd side, but makes for some fun gameplay. As with other Namco games the vertical display is rendered with built-in pillarboxing so folk with widescreen displays need not mess with their TV settings. Namco gives you the ability to remap controls and change starting lives and the score required for extra life bonuses, however you cannot set the game’s difficulty otherwise. As with their other VCA titles the difficulty is skewed a bit north of average so veterans won’t feel too babied.
Gaplus (Virtual Console Arcade)
Galaga is quite possibly my favourite Namco game of all time, though it’s actually the second in a series of four arcade games starting with Galaxian. Gaplus is the 3rd (you may even see it called Galaga 3 – though that makes little sense) game and appears to have been aimed at expert Galaga players given the difficulty level, but sadly it overshoots the mark quite a bit which hurts the experience.
I still rate the game, but it’s incredibly challenging right from the beginning with rapidly moving enemies flying on-screen in shifting patterns that can be hard to predict. Players who are too good at shooting the bugs as they appear on screen will be treated to additional waves even after the rest have finished building their formation; sometimes appearing right on top of the player. The ability to move up and down in the bottom of the playfield can help in avoiding some of these enemies, but can also expose you to attacks from more directions. It’s another Namco VCA game originally displayed on a vertical monitor and has the usual key config and game settings.
Mappy (Virtual Console Arcade)
An odd little platforming game which pre-dates the general use of the term. The main difference between Mappy and other platformers is that Mappy has no jump button: instead you move the little mouse policeman from platform to platform by jumping off your ledge onto a springy surface below – though you need to be careful as you can only make two consecutive bounces before it breaks.
Mappy is trying to retrieve stolen goods from a gang of cats called the Mewkies. Collecting the treasures in matching pairs will get you big bonus points, so it’s worth paying attention to what you’re picking up as you go. Your only weapon against the cat gang is the ability to remotely open and close doors, though you’re also safe if you’re bouncing up and down. I didn’t realise you could manipulate the doors on your platform remotely without touching them until I rediscovered this game on the original Namco Museum on the Sony Playstation despite playing it countless times in the arcade(!)
Despite being a platform game I quite enjoy it – possibly because the characters are so darn cute! It’s a forgotten gem of a game and is certainly worth checking out. Given it’s one of very few Namco VCA titles available outside of Japan you should be able to buy it no matter what Wii you have.