The Game: This contest places you in a vehicle on a grid suspended in space. Going over the edge of the grid is bad news, and yet that’s exactly where you must ram every other object on the screen. Be careful: Isaac Newton’s laws of motion apply here, and every action begets a reaction, namely your vehicle being bounced as far back as your target has been knocked ahead. And depending on the configuration of the playing field, which eventually evolves to include gaps in the middle of the screen which can only be jumped with the proper combination of “power parts” and “jump parts,” ramming an enemy can put you over the edge too. Later levels introduce more aggressive enemies which will leave you almost strictly on the defensive. (Good tip? Position yourself between two enemies and let the recoil from attacking one help you put another one out of the game as well.) Lingering too long on the playing field will cause whoever’s in charge of this genteel sporting event to hurl projectiles at the field, blasting holes out of the grid which must then be jumped or avoided – and even your own jumps can weaken or destroy other squares on the grid. (Namco, 1985)
Memories: Say what you like about Namco, but they’ve probably introduced more singularly addictive games to the arcades than any other company out there, and those games cover a more diverse palette than today’s never-ending smorgasboard of fighting and sports titles. Case in point? Motos, a game which didn’t get a huge amount of attention since it hit the arcades between the great 1983/84 video game industry implosion and the NES area (1986 and later).
And while it’s not entirely original – the ability to do nothing but ram your opponents was central to Gottlieb’s earlier title Reactor – Motos at least puts the game in a somewhat less abstract context. (Note I said “somewhat.”)
Not one of Namco’s higher-profile titles, the only occurrence of Motos on any ’90s-or-later console for the longest time was its inclusion on the Japanese-only release of Namco Museum Encore. It’s now returned to the mainstream – or as close as it’ll ever get to mainstream – on the PSP.