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Namco Shows Their Savvy With The Mobile Arcade
posted by: Monica Hafer
publisher: Namco Networks
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date posted: 04:13 PM Thu May 18th, 2006
last revision: 03:18 PM Fri May 19th, 2006

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Click to read.For those of us who lived through it, this is nostalgic. For everyone else, it\'s retro. But either way, Namco has been quietly rolling out all of our old arcade favorites and some new \"soon-to-be classics\" for your mobile phone, Palm OS, Windows Mobile, or Sidekick. Xbox Live Arcade isn\'t the only future Arcade for mobile platforms.

Games that are available for download onto your mobile include Pac-Man, Rally-X, Pole Position II, Galaga, Galaxian, Mrs. Pac-man, Xevious, Mr. Driller, Triko Drum Master, and the 3D games Time Crisis Mobile, Ridge Racer, and Pac Mania. Under the Pac-Man banner, they also have original games such as Pac-Man Casino, Pinball, Puzzle, Match (think Dr. Mario), and Bowling.

The beauty of these games is that they work so nicely with the mobile technology. Most utilize the directional buttons plus one key for firing/etc., which doesn\'t deviate from the game\'s original programming. This type of intuitive control allows people of all ages and skill levels to pick up and play the games with an almost zero learning curve. And not only do the games work well for kids and adults, hard-core and casual gamers, but they are also gender neutral, which makes them great for every demographic. I love these titles not only because they are long-time favorites, but also because they are tons of fun and highly addictive.

And that\'s not all that Namco has in store for the future of mobile. Since your devices are always connected to a network, it makes it really easy to add online content to your games. I was thrilled to hear that Namco plans on making some titles network enabled, like Snoopy and the Red Baron, Pool Pro Online, Dilbert: Cubicle Chaos, and the piece de resistance, Scene It? (the current top selling board game in the world). They are currently working on how to best approach multi-player versions of these and other games.

Two of the additions to the games themselves come from a partnership with Sprint. They are offering a new \"micro-payment technology\" through Motricity (a content delivery platform company) so that on games like Galaga you can pay to download an additional play in Dual-Fighter mode for twenty-five cents. They will have a separate online leader board for people who have paid for additional players so as not to confuse the rankings with those duking it out with no assistance. This micro-payment system allows them to make fun additions to your games available, while never charging you anything else for your initial download of the full game.

Also, Sprint is getting ready to launch Super Pac-Man, and in order to celebrate this, they are giving away a Super Pac-Man car (a customized 2006 Volkswagen Beetle). Between June 1st and July 31st, Sprint will be the only carrier to have Super Pac-man, and each Namco game you download from Sprint is an entry into the contest (for more information, check on http://www.namcogames.com). The game itself is a great sequel, and offers 256 levels and all sorts of new twists on our favorite take on tag.

If you\'re not a Sprint customer, don\'t worry. The games we\'ve mentioned work on many services, including Verizon, Sprint PCS, T-Mobile, Amp\'d Mobile, Alltel, Bell Mobility, Cellular South, Cingular, Metro PCS, US Cellular, and Western Wireless. You can check the Namco site to see which games will work on your phone or mobile device.

Namco seems to be approaching the mobile industry with a savvy that other companies lack. Not only do they understand the type of games that we love to play, they also know that in order to expand in the wide-open field of mobile gaming, they need to educate general mobile users on how easy it is to download content and to let everyone know what\'s available to them already. When I was at E3, I talked to Scott Rubin (Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Namco Networks) and he says that currently they estimate only 3-4% of users now download games. His company is committed to finding innovative ways to educate mobile users and bring all of us more of the content that we crave. Most all of the games will have a 90 second demo so that you can see what you\'re getting ahead of time if you aren\'t familiar with the game, and some of the wireless providers are already imbedding demos in their new phones so people can try out content before they download.

Scott also says the beauty of downloading Namco games is the \"truth in advertising\" aspect, where the adds you see for the games really do match the content you get, and they are constantly looking for new ways to meet the needs and wants of their users. Case in point, Namco has brought us the ability to download ringtones and wallpaper, as well as provided a link to purchase our favorite Namco toys, apparel, and collectibles from http://www.clubNAMCO.com (I am the proud new owner of a Pac-Man shirt myself!).

I think that the lineup of games and online content speak for themselves. Namco is taking a great approach to mobile gaming with the marriage of retro and cutting edge content targeted at every demographic. The \"mobile arcade of the future\" has arrived, and I am excited to say that it\'s just exactly what was on my wish list.

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