The golden age of Japanese arcades wouldn’t be the same without one big name: Namco. Specifically, it wouldn’t be the same without an IP dreamt up by Namco’s staff, and that is Pac Man.
Aside from Pac Man, however, Namco is one of the pillars of the early Japanese arcades, contributing no less than Galaxian, Xevious, and Dig Dug, among others. Founded in 1955 as Nakamura Seisakusho, what we now call Namco Bandai has had stakes in businesses ranging from theme parks and gaming centers to arcade games and home console titles.
Namco’s Dig Dug
The company became Namco in 1977 when it began to focus more heavily on electronic games, their first such product debuting in 1970 under the name “Racer.” Before this, Nakamura Manufacturing Company mainly produced electronic rides for the rooftops of Japanese department stores. There, children would ride on electronic horses and the like in coin-op amusements that are still common today.
As luck would have it, Namco was able to get into the video game industry due to the collapse and subsequent firesale of Atari Japan. Due to money issues back in the States, founder and CEO of Atari Nolan Bushnell expedited the sale of Atari Japan which, despite heavy losses, attracted some bids, one of which was from a major pinball maker called Sega.
Sega lost the bid, reportedly, because they underbid when compared with Namco’s offer which secured the deal for them and changed the course of the company forever.
Bee Gee
What Namco got out of this deal was an exclusive license in Japan for all of Atari’s games for the next ten years. In addition to that, Namco began to open up branded arcades across Japan that featured Atari’s games prominently.
Launched in 1978, Gee Bee was Namco’s first stab at original IP under its own steam. Prior to