Namco & Sega - Compare and Contrast

After looking at @saddleblasters post about games being better if Sega made them I started thinking about Namco and Sega as rivals and contemporaries. Staring in the late ‘80s up to the late ’90s these two companies were at their peak both in the arcade and the home. Ridge Racer vs Virtua Racing / Daytona, Virtua Cop vs Time Crisis and Virtua Fighter vs Tekken come to mind. Its also interesting that many of Namco‘s arcade titles were running on modified Sony Playstation hardware and how that effected the home ports of their games compared to Sega’s efforts on the Saturn. What other parallels can be drawn? Is there a definitive leader between the two?

@tomjonjon#7599 Yes there is a definite leader: Sega

It‘s a really interesting rivalry. Especially in the arcades. Here’s some more that came to mind:

Smash Court Tennis vs Virtua Tennis
Wangan Midnight vs Initial D

Then all worlds collided once the Triforce hit arcades (F-Zero AX, Mario Kart Arcade GP 1&2). Co-developed by Namco, Sega, and Nintendo, but based on the GameCube architecture.

Thing is Namco was always trailing Sega Virtua Cop predates Time Crisis by 14 months same with the racing and the fighting games especially those using model2/system22 and after that the Model 3 killer Namco board never materialized(to be fair no promised Model 3 board killer, like Konamis Cobra board that actually did see release ever killed Model 3 or did indeed materialize) so Namco went with PS hardware and never came close to matching, let alone beating Sega.

If I got 99 cents for every industry article that said Model 3 killer back in the day I would at least be 99.99$ richer today.

My math does not add up, sorry for that 99cents times a 101 does not equel 99.99$

Namco and Sega definitely kept making entries into the same genres at the same times - so too did many others, but few had BOTH arcade and console dominance, which kept the two in a closer rivalry.

I think it's interesting to look at the companies now as well. Namco has been absorbed into bandai but you can still kind of tell which is a "namco-like" (unlicensed) game and which is a "banda-like" (largely licensed) game.

For example, with Tekken, that's the winner at this point because it has not only outlived Virtua Fighter, it's dramatically outsold every other fighting game series, including street fighter.

But when it comes to other genres, as we declared on the Podcast, Sega Is Back re: all that stuff, and Namco didn't fully get out of its wii era slump of just kinda putting out whatever. It feels like Sega is back as a whole, whereas Namco has spots of brilliance and an undefined style. Namco kind of USED to have a style, but now like... the Tales series and Tekken and Ridge Racer are all good games, but they don't make me feel like "heck yeah, namco," because they all feel like they were made by different companies in a way. But even from Valkyria Chronicles to Yakuza to Mushiking to Space Channel 5 VR, those all sure feel like Sega made them (yes, even mushiking).

So that's why I'd also say sega is the winner of that contest, because I can look at a game and think "that's got sega vibes," where I could not say the same of Namco.

It‘s very interesting that you made this thread! When I’d made that other thread I also had some thoughts in the back of my mind about how Namco fits into things, but never wrote about them. What @exodus said is why I feel a “Games that would be better if Namco made them” thread wouldn‘t work as well. Sega is special in that it’s one of the only companies that has their hands in pretty much every kind of game and still has a distinctive style. Namco and Nintendo are the only companies that come close, but yeah, Namco has less of a style, and Nintendo limits itself a lot more in the genres of games it makes.

It's interesting that I can't really think of any large Western companies that have anything approaching a unified style. They all just feel like a bunch of different studios that happened to be purchased by the same people (in many cases because they were).

The one thing Namco had for a second was with Soul Calibur. There's no other series I can think of where even beginner players can just mash buttons and feel like they are doing something amazing. I recently played through Tekken Tag 2 and it definitely felt like a game where I had a ton I needed to learn to have any control over my fighters.

I may not be framing this accurately, but to me this is an arcade question, and the Sega output during that time was just insane. I wish they would just continue making Naomi style games forever, not out of nostalgia, but the house aesthetic was so strong and it was applied to so many good and dumb ideas through model 1/2/3/naomi.

However it looks like we only got a fraction of Namco's arcade releases in the US so who knows I guess

@saddleblasters#7610 I‘ll tell you what, in regards to Western companies not having a unified style. I generally agree, with the exception of Supergiant, which has a defined and finely-honed visual and audio style which it has polished over the course of its four games. But maybe it’s not really fair to bring such a comparatively-small studio into the discussion.

As for (Bandai-)Namco, these days they also publish some games that just have nothing at all to do with either Bandai's or Namco's identity. Games like Dark Souls, or Project CARS. Namco had a style at one time, for sure. Strong arcade roots, which are referenced quite directly in Ridge Racer 2 (for the PSP). But in the past ten years or so, you really only see it referenced in fits and bursts, like in the Mr. Driller Switch game that came out this year.

A lot of Sega‘s people from the early 3D era concluded that their only real advantage was the fact that they simply tried things before everyone else: back then, even just a six-month head-start made you dramatically more skilled than your contemporaries, but as tech became more advanced and Sega’s people started leaving and sharing their expertise elsewhere, whatever perceived superiority they had dissipated pretty quickly. To give one example, the early Tekken team was primarily ex-AM2 people, who then jumped to Square and then splintered off into the diaspora.


@exodus#7609 For example, with Tekken, that’s the winner at this point because it has not only outlived Virtua Fighter, it’s dramatically outsold every other fighting game series, including street fighter.

Nah, Smash has it pipped at ~60 million sold, and Ultimate accounts for 20 million all on its own. (Smash 64 is by far the least successful of the five games at ~4.5 million, a number most other fighting games would kill for—I don't think SFV's there, even.)

Tekken's at ~50 million, Street Fighter's at ~45 million; MK's somewhere in the vicinity of those two, if not higher, but the numbers aren't clear, especially for the WB-era games, which have sold extremely well but they never say precisely how well. Beyond that, you're looking at way way lower numbers, I think Soulcalibur might be the only series to even crack 10 million. Dragon Ball FighterZ, which has sold 5 million and counting, has already eclipsed several decades-old fighting game franchises with a single game.

Tekken 3 was the single biggest-selling home fighting game for a long time, at around ~8.5 million, but Smash Ultimate and Brawl both have it beat pretty significantly (as does 4, if you count both versions as one game), as have at least two of the last three MK games. FWIW, Capcom's biggest one-shot is OG SF2 for SNES, which sold a little under ~6.5 million IIRC, and Tekken 7 will probably end up overtaking it when all is said and done.

I love both mummy and daddy and hate it when they fight.

@billy#7626 I do love their fighting games though.


@gsk#7624 Nah, Smash has it pipped at 60 million sold

luckily that's not a fighting game and thus my point stands heh heh

@exodus#7644 Also VF is back

we don‘t know that for sure yet, right!?

Rather, we don’t know for sure that it‘s new - we know they’ve planned something, but it could be VF5 esports reboot or something.

@exodus#7657 All I know is the producer promised me he would deliver a new VF game before he retires in a few years. If he does not deliver on his promise I know who he is and I know where he lives so I will not have to find him to get my revenge.