Nichibutsu Arcade ClassicsThe Game: Three obscure but memorable cult classics from Japan’s Nichibutsu Ltd. are gathered in one collection, along with an updated version of each game. Crazy Climber, Moon Cresta and Frisky Tom are included, with their respective remakes, Crazy Climber ’85, SF-X and Tom’s Strike-Back. (Nichibutsu Ltd., 1995)

Memories: Much sought-after by collectors now, this Namco Museum-style compilation is the only way to get most of these games on anything that’s not MAME – and in the case of the updated versions, this is the only game in town. It’s also the source of a very humorous photo, shown before the main menu screen pops up, which I find very funny (see below).

Nichibutsu Arcade ClassicsNow, let’s talk about those updated versions. SF-X gives Moon Cresta a huge graphical facelift, and adds the ability to move up and down within the bottom half of the screen – but other than that, the basic game play is much the same as its inspiration. Tom’s Strike-Back adds some Tetris-like puzzle elements to your plumbing repairs, but is otherwise much the same – again, with audiovisual enhancements. Crazy Climber ’85 adds more elements, including power-up-like items such as hard hats which will safely absorb a limited number of objects thrown at your climber’s head, as well as a gorilla who doesn’t just try to punch you out, but climbs up the building after you. The updates are actually a lot of fun.

Nichibutsu Arcade ClassicsAnd the originals? They’re very faithful ports, and the controls are smooth – truth be told, I never thought I’d get used to playing Crazy Climber with the dual D-pads, but now it’s second nature. Which reminds me – if you like Crazy Climber ’85, do check out Nichibutsu’s later mining of that proto-franchise, Hyper Crazy Climber and Crazy Climber 2000. It just keeps getting 5 quarters!better.

A Famicom version of Nichibutsu Arcade Classics was also made, again only in Japan, though that version featured only the three original games without the enhanced “sequels.”

Nichibutsu Arcade Classics
Nichibutsu Arcade Classics
Nichibutsu Arcade Classics