In 2001, Namco went to the Amusement Machine Show in Japan with a new prototype game to show off in a very unusual cabinet called ORBS (pictured above). The game inside – a sequel to Namco’s Star Blade called Star Blade Operation Blue Planet. This video showed the game being played at the show but was the only footage that had been floating around for some time. Namco eventually ended up shelving the game, the ORBS cabinet being awesome and quite expensive. Now of course that has finally changed as Namco has created a UGSF website dedicated to Namco’s various space games from Galaxian on down. In the “Special” section, they have a full page dedicated to this Star Blade sequel including the first direct video footage from the first level of the game I know of.
Judging by the video it looks like it still needed some work. Enemies don’t seem to attack that frequently and while this would have probably remained in the final version, it would have been cool to see the enemy capital ships take more damage from your shots. But the essence of the game is there as you can see and it fits perfectly into the simulator experience that arcades provide best, in this case creating the feeling like you’re a space fighter pilot.
It’s an interesting development this website – perhaps it indicates that Namco is working on something new along the lines of a space game, but it also could be nothing more than taking a look back at some of their past arcade developments. This being the 30th year since Galaga was released it makes sense to celebrate the series in some way. I think that a return to the Star Blade series would be pretty neat and welcome although I think it would work best in various cabinet forms. We’ll just have to wait and see if Namco has any plans for the series in the near future.