Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Matter of Import 039: Navarone [Namco 1980]


We enter 1980 with Namco's Navarone, a fixed screen shooter with monochrome graphics using a colored screen overlay released the same year as Pac Man, Missile Command, and Berzerk. As we evaluate each title released here, firmly in the golden age of arcade releases, we have to ask ourselves, how does this game measure up?

In Navarone's case, it is found wanting. The game is, visually, a mess, with a cluttered screen offering us limited interaction. Our battleship can traverse three of the screen's edges in a very measured sort of way, and fire its cannons at the dots, circles, and house-like gun emplacements on the island, or peninsula, we face. The first two can be destroyed with a single hit; the guns are invulnerable.

Likewise invulnerable is the pirate squid or whatever the boss is in the center of the island – at least while its walls are up. By destroying those circles we can cause a gap to appear and, if we can shoot a clear path to the boss, kill him in a single hit.

Of course, shooting the circles while the boss is present causes the gap to shuffle sides, potentially even facing upwards where we can't get to it.

While we can take the boss out, ultimately each stage is cleared by killing everything else.

The only danger we face are the guns dotting the island – they cannot be destroyed, so their fire must simply be avoided.

Ultimately this offers little challenge and less action; my deaths in the game were more likely caused by disorientation, as even when traveling up the sides vertically we're still pressing left or right to move.

Navarone gets a D ranking.


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