One of the first NEO-GEO games released can be fun while it lasts.
The Switch is quickly becoming one of the biggest hotspots for Hamster’s NEO-GEO releases, with many of the top titles already represented on the console. So it’s only fitting that the very first game released for the NEO-GEO arcade system, NAM-1975, should make an appearance as well. Being first in a long line of arcade classics, it can be patently obvious at times that the game doesn’t age quite as well as other NEO-GEO titles. But while NAM-1975 does have its problems, the game overall is a solid initial entry.
As the title would suggest, you’re pitted in Vietnam in the year 1975, as you (along with a second player, if you wish) fight up towards North Vietnam battling “northside terrorists” (SNK’s words, not mine) in search of a scientist’s kidnapped daughter. The game features cutscenes in between levels with voice acting, which is pretty advanced for a 1990 game. I’m not saying the voice acting is good, because it isn’t, and the text is full of “Engrish” grammatical errors, but I do admire them going for something a bit more advanced than the usual fare.
The game is a on-rails shooter where you travel through Vietnam while shooting down planes and soldiers through gunfire (by pressing the Y button) and throwing grenades (B button). There are other power-ups later in the game like a flamethrower, but beyond that there isn’t much variation in gameplay. I don’t think it matters too much as the game is really short (with the easiest difficulty, it’s maybe about an hour tops) so it’s fine for what it is.
The only big issue with the game is that the framerate can get really jittery when there are too many enemies on the screen. This isn’t such a big issue in the first part of the game, but as you get towards the end it’s very obvious. The issues aren’t bad enough that it affects overall gameplay, however.
NAM-1975 is a fun game while it lasts. The game itself is short, but the gameplay is fun and the presentation is pretty sophisticated for a game from 1990, which I like. Picking up NAM isn’t absolutely necessary, but it can be a fun diversion while also taking note of what SNK had in mind for the NEO-GEO hardware.