UPDATE: A representative for Bandai Namco had this to say regarding an American version of the program: “This program is currently exclusive to Japanese domestic developers. There may be a chance for it to open up to the Western market, but we cannot confirm at this point in time.”
So it seems that Japan will be the test market and then it might come stateside if they see some success. If nothing else, I hope Bandai Namco allows games from the program to be brought over for our enjoyment. Full article is preserved below.
Bandai Namco has put out a press release detailing an upcoming program that would allow other developers to work with some of their older intellectual property with only minimal oversight by the company. The full list can be viewed below (translation via Gematsu), and includes some of the biggest arcade hits that Namco released in the 1980s.
- The Tower of Druaga
- Battle City
- Star Luster
- Tower of Babel
- Adventure of Valkyrie
- Sky Kid
- Dragon Buster
- Shadow Land
- Genpei Toma Den
- Wonder Momo
- Wagan Land
The release specifically mentions cell phone and browser based games, so it’s unknown whether a game’s scale will be judged before approval. It’s also unclear if the program is coming to America or will remain local to Japan. The translation mentions opening the IP to “domestic creators”, but we can’t be sure until an official English translation is put forward. Bandai Namco has promised more details before the program’s start in April.
As we get further and further away from the era of arcades, there are brands that we all love as gamers that are just being lost in the back of a publisher’s broom closet. This type of move, even if it is only limited to Japan, should be celebrated, and could lead to similar programs from Capcom, Konami, and WB (owners of the Midway arcade licenses). Keeping these characters alive is creatively good for the industry, and will inspire some younger players to seek out gaming heritage and maybe find a few new favorites.
What is your favorite arcade game that is ripe for a reimagining? Why are Galaxian and Galaga listed separately on that list of IP? Answer these questions and more in the comments below!