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2000: The Namco/Striptease Connection
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on December 21, 2002   |   Episode 26 (Show Archive)  

The Scoop: Believe it if you want, but this article is not about Namco's recently released game Dead to Rights, in which you are allowed to take control of an exotic dancer and perform a strip tease. Instead, this has to do with a small game we like to call Soul Calibur. Quite possibly the single best fighting game on the Dreamcast, and the first killer app the system could call its own.

While Sony had Tekken, Time Crisis, and other popular arcade franchises locked in what seemed like an unbreakable exclusive agreement, Soul Calibur managed to find its way onto the Dreamcast. The Ridge Racer series had already been ported to the Nintendo 64, so there was precedence set, but Soul Calibur was in a ballpark all to itself. Not for many years had a Namco game been exclusive to a system other than the PlayStation.

And Soul Calibur was quite a game, it is considered by many (this site included) one of the
greatest fighting games ever made, in fact. And it marked the belief that Namco would continue to make high quality games for the Dreamcast.

But you know what? That didn't happen. Instead, Namco decided to simply tease Dreamcast owners as they churned out one after another game for the PlayStation 2. It was nothing more than a tease, and Dreamcast gamers weren't going to stand for it!

The Other Side: Let's face it; Namco was (and still is) going to make the bulk of their money from the PlayStation 2. With such a lead, and a what seems like the world backing it, the PlayStation is a powerhouse that will take nothing short of a miracle to topple. Of course, that's what they said about Nintendo until the late 1990s. Regardless, it's Sony's user base that speaks to most companies, and it should not have been unexpected. After all, Namco was a pro-PlayStation company all throughout the 1990s.

The Impact: Was Namco's betrayal what ultimately killed the Dreamcast? Probably not, but it didn't help matters much, either. The lack of high quality arcade games from Namco, among other companies, limited the appeal of the Dreamcast. And the combination of the success of the PlayStation 2, not to mention the impending release of not one, but two big systems, all spelled doom for Sega's system.

Where Are They Now?: While certain games, Tekken included, are still PlayStation 2 exclusives, Namco has been releasing
more and more on other systems. Dead to Rights, for example, had universal success on all three systems; others are starting to follow suit. Perhaps the biggest multi-platform game, though, is the upcoming Soul Calibur 2. While the PlayStation 2 and Xbox version will be identical, the GameCube version is said to house a special fighter, one whose name just happens to be Link.

Even though Namco is releasing Soul Calibur 2 on all systems, they are still involved in releasing exclusives, so this complaint could fester yet again in the future. For now, though, Namco and Sega are both in good positions, both making great third party games, and both making excellent fighters.


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