Famitsu Interviews the People Behind Namco’s Classic Visuals Archive

Namco video game art

Preserving historic items is not easy, as Famitsu found out when they recently interviewed the people responsible for saving early Namco video game art.

Lead artist Minoru Sashida and art director Takaharu Suzuki of Bandai Namco Studios excavated, organized, and archived a decade’s worth of Namco video game key visuals from the early days of video games.

Saving The Art

In the Famitsu interview, Sashida and Suzuki explained some of the challenges involved in saving the 1980s-era art.  (Note: All quotes are translated from the original Japanese article.)

With the power of hindsight, the average modern video game fan might think it would be easy to recognize the value of this classic video game art. However, Sashida said that at the time, people thought that the stuff was ‘not so important.’

‘The key visuals of the early days of video games were positioned as ‘intermediate products created in the production of games,’ he said.

In addition, Suzuki said that people didn’t always know where stuff was. One reason for this is that Namco’s offices moved around several times in the past. As anyone who has ever moved knows, that presented opportunities for items to get thrown out, lost, or forgotten.

‘Due to the overlap of moving, warehouses were created in various places, and I couldn’t understand where and what was stored at all,’ Sashida said. Valuable objects also had to be protected when the company moved.

Once the old art was found, protected, and saved, they still faced challenges. For example, Sashida said that they wanted to convey the value of the art to different types of people.

‘In order to convey value to people with different values, it is sometimes necessary to define the value to some extent,’ Sashida said. He said that adding stories, painting techniques, and the context of the video game helped people understand the worth.

It’s a long interview, but it shows how these people managed to preserve such items as an original Dig Dug poster or Pac-Man ghost monster models. They have also made YouTube videos featuring the video game art! Also, according to Sashida, Bandai Namco plans virtual reality museums and products based on the original drawings. Suzuki said that he also hopes to have an exhibition of drawings in the future.

You can read more (in Japanese) at Famitsu.com.

Bandai Namco on YouTube; Famitsu.com
Join Our Discussions on Discord