What is it?
Namco Video Game Graffiti was a series of 12 releases (10 volumes, one “Best of”, and one magazine pack-in) released from 1986 to 1994 that were collections of game soundtracks. CD media was relatively new when the series began, and Namco had some games with very short soundtracks, given the technology and fairly primitive nature of arcades in general, at the time. It made sense to compile these into collections. Namco wanted to release state-of-the-art versions of their music, but as pressing CDs was costly, having a CD with 7 minutes of looped Pac-Man music was not economical.
What game soundtracks are covered by the series?
58 video game soundtracks were released through these 10 volumes: Air Combat, Assault, Bakutotsu Kijuutei, Bakuretsu Quiz Ma-Q Dai Boken, Baraduke, Blast Off, Blazer, Bravoman, Bubble Trouble, Burning Force, Cosmo Gang, Dig Dug, Dragon Saber, Dragon Spirit, Driver’s Eyes, Emeraldia, Exvania, F/A, Face Off, Final Lap, Final Lap 3, Galaga ’88, Genpei Toumaden, Golly Ghost!, Knuckle Heads, Kyuukai Douchuuki, Libble Rabble, Lucky & Wild, Mappy, Marchen Maze, Motos, New Rally-X!, Netto!! Gekidou!! Quiz Island, Numan Athletics, Ordyne, Pacmania, Phelios, Pistol Daimyou Bouken, Quester, Rolling Thunder, Rolling Thunder 2, Rompers, Shadow Land (Youkai Douchuuki), Sky Kid, Solvalou, Soukoban DX, Star Luster, Steel Gunner, Steel Gunner 2, Super World Court, Super World Stadium, Tank Force, Thunder Cepter, Toypop, Valkyrie no Densetsu, Wonder Momo, World Stadium, Zombie Castle
Why is it interesting?
- You get soundtracks from 5-10 games on a single disc.
- These soundtracks laid the foundation of Namco soundtrack greatness that became Namco Game Sound Express and Wonder Spirits.
- The series starts with music from some of the original Namco arcade sound teams that created the sounds for all the classics, Pac-Man, Mappy, Dig Dug, and more. It then moves slowly into tons of songs by huge and very well-known Namco composers before they became well-known. (Shinji Hosoe, Yoshie Arakawa, Takayuki Aihara, Nobuyoshi Sano, Ayako Saso, this was their start.)
- Every release has a completely different visual style to reflect the changing time, moving from the 80’s into the 90’s.
Why is it important to preserve these?
- They are also among the oldest Namco discs, with some of the early volumes coming in at nearly 35 years old as of 2020. The first 6 volumes were also released on cassette, and the first 4 were even released on vinyl! (before it became trendy). This should show you how old some of this stuff is.
- There was also (to my knowledge, as of 202) relatively little lossless preservation with this collection.
Acquisition and digitizing took a few months, finishing up in late March 2021. This entire collection is now digitally preserved, music-wise, and while my included scans are by no means the be-all, end-all, they’re something.