Sunday, September 30, 2012

Nintendo / Namco Bomb Bee-N (ボムベーN, 1979)

From the early 1970s, Nintendo was active in the arcade market, with electro-mechanical games and games using new video technology like EVR Race.

The Japanese arcade scene famously exploded in 1978 when Space Invaders became a nation phenomenon, allegedly leading to a temporary shortage of ¥100 coins.

Seeing the success these new micro-computer based systems had, Nintendo also started releasing a string of arcade video games, with many different titles appearing in 1978 and 1979.

Nintendo produced these games mostly in-house, but also distributed licensed games from other game makers, like Sega and Namco.

Nintendo / Namco Bomb Bee-N (1979)

The game shown here is one of the earliest examples (if not the first) of a third-party game released on a Nintendo system.


Bomb Bee was designed by Namco. A version of this game - called Bomb Bee-N (ボムベーN) - was designed to run on Nintendo arcade cabinets. The 'N' in this name indicated it was the Nintendo version.


Bomb Bee is a mix of video pinball and break-out game. It is played with paddle controls.


The purpose of the game is to rack up as much points as possible, through elaborate scoring mechanisms, simliar to Nintendo's Monkey Magic from the same year.

Video uploaded by YouTube user Umma6umma

Bomb Bee-N remains the single cooperation on arcade hardware between Nintendo and Namco, until 2002 (when the companies joined forces, together with Sega, to create a shared arcade hardware platform, called Triforce.)

Nintendo/Namco Bomb Bee-N leaflet (front and back)

Bomb Bee is a historical game for several reasons. It is only the second video game produced by Namco, following the 1978 game Gee Bee, to which it was a sequel.

Both these games were designed by Touru Iwatani (岩谷 徹). If his name does not immediately ring a bell, let me say two words: Pac Man. Yes, these are the early works of the man behind the iconic ghost-chased-pellet-muncher.

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