Pac-Man 99 is part of a trilogy of games with similar concepts on the Switch. Of its siblings, Tetris 99 continues to be playable and its online DLC still available, and Super Mario Bros. 35, Nintendo’s free SMB-based version of the concept, shut down years ago now.
All these games are great, and SMB35’s loss is still keenly felt. I particularly rue it because I was freakishly good at it; I have a screenshot somewhere of the records screen showing a streak of 11 1st place wins.
Pac-Man 99 is really good, and its online mode is free to people with a Switch Online subscription, so please enjoy it while you can.
Another LUA-based game hack from 10yard! This one’s a mashup of two perennial arcade favorites, Galaga and Donkey Kong. Each level has a chevron powerup somewhere in it. When Jumpman picks it up, he’s joined by the spaceship from Galaga. The jump button is also the fire button! Further, the ship’s shots are piercing, and can destroy more than one enemy with a single blast.
You’d think it’d make the game much easier, but the difficulty of the game has been subtly increased to make up for it, plus controlling the ship as well as ol’ Jumpy is a distraction, so it’s still pretty challenging.
In addition to Donkey Kong, the hack’s github page notes that it works in Donkey Kong Jr. as well!
Xevious was modestly successful in the US, where it was produced by Atari, but it Japan it did amazing numbers. Jeremy Parish (in his NES Works and related series) has mentioned several times that it was a vastly influential game in Japan, inspiring a whole generation of designers, and a whole bunch of clones and similar games. Its US release was around the time of the arcade crash, which was mostly an American thing. If it hadn’t had happened, maybe now we’d think about Xevious the way we consider Pac-Man.
Xevious basically invented the vertical scrolling shooter where your ship has free movement of the screen. It also included a Bomb button to attack objects on the ground, displayed on the game’s background layer. It was a concept that would later be iterated upon in Konami’s Twinbee games.
Revealed in the article is an interesting fact. The scrolling background is stored in ROM as a huge 1024×2048 bitmapped image. That’s much wider than the screen is though. What the game does is send the player into a vertical portion of it 224 pixels wide.
When the player reaches the top, they wrap around to the bottom of another vertical stripe of the game world. In a complete loop, the player will travel from the bottom to the top 16 times. You can tell when you’re about to start another loop because the background will reach a place with trees all the way across!
You always start off a life in a tree-filled area because it begins you at the bottom of a stripe; each vertical pass over the map functions as a checkpoint. The stripes overlap somewhat, so you sometimes pass over an area you’ve seen before but offset by a bit.
For more facts on Xevious and its development, be sure to click through to the article!
According to the people at Rice Digital, many of Namco’s games set in the future, including Galaxian, Galaga, Gaplus, Bosconian, Baraduke, Burning Force, and many more, are all part of a common timeline! Namco calls it the UGSF History. Due to the inclusion of Kissy from Baraduke, which was named to be Susumu “Mr. Driller” Hori’s mother, it also drags in the Mr. Driller games, and even Dig Dug! You can read about it on their site here. Namco’s own site concerning it is here.
According to their timeline, the earliest game chronologically is Ace Combat 3 (which is not an arcade game), and the latest is Galaga ’88!
“Bub’s Broadcast” is a YouTube channel put out by Taito, mostly to promote various Taito properties in Japan. “Bub” is a mascot character based off of Bub, a.k.a. Bubblun, from Bubble Bobble. It’s low-key, yet entertaining, fare.
This particular video is of interest though because Bub steps outside his usual stomping grounds, and plays Namco’s Pac-Attack, that Tetris-style puzzle game where you have to create paths out of falling blocks to guide Pac-Man to eat ghosts.
It’s in Japanese, but there’s English subtitles, and of special interest is that Bub reveals some possibly-unknown codes for the game. If you point at Hyper difficulty and hold L and R down when selecting it, the game will begin at Level 300 instead of 100. And if you hold Down and Right on the control pad while also pressing L and R, you begin near the highest possible difficulty, at level 900! Also revealed is that, if you charge up the Fairy meter all the way and a fairy comes out, but you don’t wish to use her ghost-clearing power, you can hold Up and press B repeatedly to cancel it, causing her to fly away and giving you 10,000 bonus points. It’s always interesting when these unknown game elements are revealed long after the games release!