Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Arcade Maze Game Review: Lupin III

In 1980, Taito released Lupin III, the first video game based on the popular Lupin the Third manga and anime. It was developed on the same Intel 8080 hardware platform that powered Taito's classic Space Invaders. That game stood the test of time, but does Lupin III fare nearly as well?

I first came across Lupin III in 2001 while working on my arcade emulator, LASER. As it is a deceptively simple game, like all games on Taito 8080 hardware, I did not expect much of it. However, as I worked to get the graphics and controls working properly in my emulator, I began to see that it actually is very enjoyable.

It is one of the first maze games, as it was released three months before Pac-Man, the seminal game in that genre. The purpose of the game is to clear out all of the money bags from the bank while avoiding the police. Like most early maze games, once the screen is cleared, it keeps repeating at a faster rate until all player lives are lost. Like Pac-Man, despite sounding boring, it is a lot of fun in practice. This is especially true in the international version.

The original Japanese release was a simple affair as all characters were colored yellow and the game contained no sound. The international version had multiple colors for the various characters, stage music, a stage clear jingle, and messages when stages are cleared. It also replicated the intro in an expectedly simple, yet amazingly effective, style. This makes the international version quite fun to play, and, like Pac-Man, it is infinitely replayable.

The international version of Lupin III is available in the Taito EGRET II Mini console, making it available to the home market for the first time. Although it has simple gameplay mechanics and simple, yet effective, animations and sound, the international version is extremely replayable. It is one of my favorite games on Taito 8080 arcade hardware and it is well worth playing if you ever manage to come across it.

Final verdict:
3½ out of 5

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