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Dancing Eyes and the death of a Generation


Welcome to Living in the Past, a weekly column about what's new in old games. Now get off our lawn.

The Namco Generations series brought us cool reimaginings of Namco's ubiquitous arcade games, including Pac-Man Championship Edition DX and Galaga Legions DX. It can also be assumed to retroactively include games like Pac-Man Championship Edition that came out before the series was named.

Namco Generations appears to have come to an end now – at least Namco's been quiet about it – and that likely end came before two of the announced Generations games could make it to release. For some reason, Namco planned updates for relatively obscure arcade games Metro-Cross and Dancing Eyes alongside the Pac-Man and Galaga flagships.

Above, you can see what the company had in mind for the PS3 update of Dancing Eyes (embedded from a third-party Youtube channel since Namco made its own video private). The PS3 game is sort of like Qix, except instead of surrounding rectangular spaces in a flat, stark vector retroscape, you're a monkey cutting pieces off a girl's clothes. The surprise isn't that it was canceled this year; rather, the surprise is that someone at Namco thought this was a viable game concept on two separate occasions.

For comparison, since it's entirely unlikely you played it, here's the original Dancing Eyes, featuring a level in which a monkey breaks the glass cover of a lady's cryo-pod device in rectangular segments:

I'm not overly interested in seeing increasing amounts of polygonal skin. Rather than prurient interest in cartoon women, my fascination with Dancing Eyes is more about seeing Namco pay tribute to something that was, at best, an amusing idea, and at worst, something Namco had no sense reminding people of.

Aero-cross, the other lost Namco Generations game, was a much more sensible update. Metro-Cross, a side-scrolling footrace game about hopping over giant soda cans, was well-regarded enough to show up in many different Namco compilations; the trailer released by Namco shows a game that takes that foundation, and adds futuristic (less goofy) graphics, some kind of trick system, and much more speed.

I do wish I'd had the opportunity to play that, as I spent a few really happy hours in college working through the arcade original on PlayStation. Unlike Dancing Eyes, I can admit to wanting to play that without ending up on some list.

Also unlike Dancing Eyes, this one has not officially been canceled. However, since Namco hasn't said a word about it or anything else relating to Namco Generations for over a year, it seems safe to start lamenting its loss.

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