Bosconian was another game from 1981 that Namco, US distributors Bally/Midway, and arcade vendors were overconfident in as far as market performance. Why? Well there was a lot of innovation going on with it. It was the first game to feature a multi-directional scrolling field that could handle diagonals, and the one of the first major games to feature synthesized voice. They were so sure they couldn't lose with it. However, it was doomed to the same fate as the other "sure thing" from the previous year, Rally-X. And once again, the culprit was their simpler games pulling in the money, such as Galaga, and Pac-Man, which was enjoing extended popularity. That said, there's still a lot of ideas that this game brought to the table, ideas that were recycled for a long time.

The synthesized voices, for example. Back then, more than a few people took notice when the machine said things like "Blast Off!" (even though it sounded like it's saying Lock On) or "Battle Stations". You'd be pressed to find a game without some sort of vocals these days, either within narration or in the background music. Actually, Williams Electronics took a lot of the game's best ideas (the voices and the perspective), melded them with some of their own, and came out with Sinistar, which enjoyed a ton of success. This game, though having moderate success in the states, ended up as a footnote, albeit a pretty lengthy one.

In 1988, Namco released a sequel named after one of the voices in the first game, Blast Off. And the Bosconian ship would show up in games like Ridge Racer and its' ilk. Bosconian itself showed up on a handful of platforms outside of the arcade, including the Sharp X68000, the Amstrad CPC, the Sinclair Spectrum, as part of Volume 4 of the Namco History package for Windows in Japan, and as part of Volume 1 of the Namco Museum for the Playstation. Any emulation fans out there can also play it in MAME.

Galaga -- Dig Dug

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