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Namco's Namconsole lineup

Namco's Namconsole lineup

To say this isn't Namco's--or as it's called now, Namcobandai's--E3 on the console front is a bit of an understatement. Namco's lineup of roughly a dozen games can be broken down into three categories: mech-based games, cartoon licenses, and substandard racers.

The best Namcobandai console title is, surprisingly, a Mario Kart rip-off called Pac-Man World Rally. The game follows Nintendo's hit franchise to a T--its jump-based boosts and weapon-housing blocks should be instantly familiar. Why the accolades? Because this title may just be the last chance gamers get to gaze upon The Prince, the diminutive star of the recently concluded cult-hit Katamari Damacy franchise. The other racing title on display is The Fast and the Furious, which is based loosely on the upcoming movie. We use the term loosely since the movie will at least look good, and this game definitely does not. Either Namco's monitors need calibration or someone developing this title needs to rethink the "gritty" static-filled imagery that runs this game completely off track.

Namco has a Peanuts-inspired flying shooter called Snoopy vs. the Red Baron on display, if, for no other reason than to entice gaming journalists to use the phrase "Snoopy vs. the Red Baron puts the 'dog' in dogfight!" Full disclosure: I am one of those journalists. The bandai portion of Namcobandai is responsible for many an anime title. Among them are Naruto: Ultimate Ninja, which I've heard is just the anime equivalent of Peanuts; One Piece: Grand Adventure; and Zatch Bell Mamodo Fury.

The mech genre is led by the developer's only Xbox 360-bound title; Mobile Ops: The One Year War. Mobile Ops combines on-ground and in-mech combat, much in the same way that Microsoft's MechAssault series did. MechAssault, however, stood as an excellent online experience with stellar visuals. All that is apparent from Mobile Ops at this point is an ugly single-player mode (Namcobandai does have a TBD online mode in the works). Mobile Ops does take the crown for the most rumble-effect-overloaded demo on the E3 floor. The other major mech game is Bounty Hand--actually for the PSP--which takes more of a fast-paced approach. In other words, it feels more like a poor man's Devil May Cry. Meanwhile, IGPX puts a unique spin on things in that it almost combines all three of Namcobandai's staple genres: it's a mech-based, crappy racing game that looks like an anime license.

Thankfully, the company's portable wares are much, much better.