Namco Arcade brings quarter-swallowing coin-op action to iOS

Namco Arcade is a new arcade game compilation from gaming mainstay Namco Bandai. The compilation comprises four classic arcade games from the ’80s — Xevious, The Tower of Druaga, Motos and Phozon, with more to follow in updates — and is compatible with fourth-generation iPhone or iPod Touch devices and higher, along with the iPad 2.

The app is available for free download and can be loosely described as “free to play” in that the app allows users to play one game once per day for free. Following this free session, players then either have the option of purchasing packs of 10 “Play Coins” for $.99 per pack or purchasing a game machine outright for unlimited play. Once a machine is purchased, the player is also able to purchase additional cheat codes for the games. At between $1.99 and $4.99 per game and $.99 per cheat code, however, the app is a relatively expensive way for players to get their retro-gaming fix compared to some other App Store offerings.

The games on offer run the gamut from classic vertically-scrolling shooter to puzzler, and Namco Bandai says that the selection of titles will expand as time goes on.

1982’s Xevious is a vertically-scrolling shooter title that challenges players to shoot down waves of aliens while bombing ground targets. It is widely regarded as if not the first ever vertically-scrolling shooter, then certainly one of the most influential. Its descendants can be seen today in the form of titles such as Cave’s popular “bullet hell” shooters, several of which are available for iOS devices.

1984’s The Tower of Druaga is a maze-based adventure game where players take on the role of hero Gilgamesh (usually shortened to Gil) as he attempts to rescue the maiden Ki from the clutches of the demon Druaga. The titular tower features 60 floors, and Gil is challenged to retrieve items, battle monsters and solve puzzles along the way. The game, though relatively unknown to modern gamers, was popular enough to spawn an anime series in 2008.

1985’s Motos challenges players to use the titular bumper care to bump enemies into pits. To give them a fighting chance on increasingly more challenging play areas, players are able to pick up various “parts” to give their car either increased bumping power or the facility to jump over gaps in the playfield.

Finally, 1983’s Phozon is a puzzle game that requires players to collect different colored atoms in an attempt to recreate the molecular shape seen in the center of the screen. Meanwhile, a malevolent clump of atoms known as The Atomic attempts to thwart the player’s efforts.

These games remain true to their arcade game roots in that they are immensely difficult, and if the player is unfamiliar with them, their free play session is likely to be over very quickly. This is how arcade games used to attract income, and how Namco Bandai is hoping to develop a revenue stream from this app. Additional incentives to play come in the form of a tournament facility, where players can compete against Facebook and Twitter friends, and global rankings. There are also a variety of Game Center achievements for players to attempt.

At the time of writing, our tracking service AppData shows the game placed at No. 57 in the Top Free iPad Games chart, No. 155 in the Top Free iPad Apps chart and No. 190 in the Top Free Apps chart. Namco Bandai is not known for its positive attitude towards the free to play model, so this title will likely be an interesting experiment for the publisher.