3D Galaga's LD Callback
Namco recently revealed both halves of their upcoming Nintendo 3DS title Pac-Man & Galaga Dimensions. The Pac-Man game, Pac-Man Tilt, is a kooky platformer with gyro sensor gameplay, lots of wild colors (apparently every new Pac-Man game needs to look like a VHS-era CGI acid trip), but no 3D support, probably to lessen the motion sickness factor.
I find the other game, Galaga 3D Impact, to be a bit more interesting. It's a first-person on-rails shooter in yet another interpretation of the Galaga universe, and thankfully does support 3D, because they gotta milk the full potential of that. Why they went with Galaga for this I don't know, but one look at screenshots has me thinking how cool a 3DS version of a similarly-themed Namco game like Starblade, Solvalou or Cyber Sled would be. It's inevitable... right? But besides that, Galaga 3D Impact is more immediately reminscent of a different Namco game, one more or less forgotten: Galaxian3.
Originally a theme park ride in 1990, Galaxian3 accepted six players who sat in front of a superwide display where two LaserDisc players/projectors played the on-rails shooter while the six players moved their blaster sights around and shot everything that moved. The theme park version -- an attraction at Namco's Wonder Eggs park -- was naturally huge, and had the rockin'-and-rollin' seats typical of such "theater games." Around 1994, Namco slightly shrunk it down into their "Theater 6" system, a smaller, relatively more portable setup for large-scale arcades that didn't have the moving seats (I don't think).
The look of the game these days is pretty cheesy, featuring low-poly CGI overlaid with low-poly enemy characters, but in the early '90s, it was impressive enough, and pretty illustrative of Namco's perfectionism. They really wanted this to be as much like a movie as possible, and they were already at the forefront with other polygonal arcade games. They knew this was the future.
Oddly enough, Galaxian3 was ported to the PlayStation in 1996, more than half a decade after its original appearance. It's not a fantastic port, as it supports four players instead of six, and the video is cropped and compressed to the PS1 standard. Above all, it's just batty -- how many console versions of theme park rides can you think of?
If you haven't heard of Galaxian3 before, rest assured that LD arcade game enthusiasts have, and have been preparing the game for emulation, if not outright buying and assembling the theaters for their own use.