Tenkomori Shooting[Arcade Obscurities is a bi-weekly column by Solvalou.com's Arttu Ylärakkola, probing some of the most interesting and obscure arcade games yet to be covered in the geek gaming press, thanks to Arttu's JAMMA board collection, and our insatiable quest for knowledge. This second column does an awesome job of describing Namco's relatively obscure 1998 game 'Tenkomori Shooting'.]

What would David Attenborough say if he found out that monkeys rescue their offspring, who've been kidnapped by an overweight sorceress, by scoring points in miniature shoot 'em up video games? Don't know if that's scientifically accurate, but that's what happens in Namco's Tenkomori Shooting.

There's lots of minigame collections, but Tenkomori is squarely aimed at the shooter crowd: absolutely every and each one of the games available contains shooting and/or bombing in some form or another. The majority of the games are original, but included is also some classics - and the great thing here is that when the classics are referenced, they are exact duplicates of the originals, and not some watered-down 3D remakes.

When you start the game, you can select one of three difficulty levels. The more difficult level you choose, the more options you have when it comes to choosing the first minigame, and the more minigames you have to succesfully complete to reach the topmost level of the sorceress' tower where the final fight (no pun intended) takes place.

Each minigame requires the player to shoot or bomb certain number of targets in very limited (only a few seconds!) time. Fail, and your monkey alter-ego loses some health. Succeed, and our monkey hero climbs to a new level of the tower, where you can select from four new randomly selected mini-games. Well, actually only three new games are available, as you can always select the just-completed game again. The idea is that the more times you select a certain game, the more difficult it will be.

Tenkomori Shooting runs on Namco's System 12 hardware and utilizes it extensively. While the classic games look very basic, some of the 3D sections look absolutely awesome. Unfortunately for console gamers, Tenkomori Shooting is a Japan-only arcade exclusive. A rare English version exists, but it seems that it was never released to the public.

Anything else? Oh, the minigames! Well, here goes - end-boss levels not included - in no particular order:

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1. A giant bug is causing general chaos and chasing your battle helicopter. Shoot the bug in the mouth and avoid its beam and bullet pattern attacks.

2. Dig Dug! Bouncing Pookas try to squash you - shoot them with your gun to inflate them but watch out: the bigger the Pookas, the more difficult it is to avoid them.

3. Your cherub must shoot apples of the correct color and avoid the wrong ones. Your wrong color is the correct one for the second player, and vice versa. More difficult than it sounds!

4. Shoot everything that moves, but concentrate on collecting medals that the enemies carry. Feels like a 2D Raizing shooter, only faster.

5. Shoot down a big mothership by breaking all its weaponry, one by one.

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6. Protect your precious rice bags from crows, but make sure you don't get crapped on.

7. Simple mathematical equations are displayed, and you have to first figure out the answer and then shoot at the bouncing balloon which contains the correct answer at the same time.

8. Shoot invading UFOs with your rocket launcher. In order to get enough points, shoot UFOs that are close together, to get big chain explosions that take out multiple enemies in one go.

9. Use your spray can to kill all giant cockroaches. Make sure you don't miss the ones who decide to scuttle under the furniture.

10. Blast all cells, but avoid the bullet swarms they shoot at you. The colorful graphics remind me of Nichibutsu's shooters, particularly Armed Formation Z.

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11. Shoot all totem poles. This is difficult, as they fire swarms of bullets at you, and just when you thought it couldn't get any more difficult, they start trying to catch you with their super elastic tongues!

12. This one is like a manic version of 1942. Shoot as many WWII planes as possible.

13. Shoot your hearts at the lady singer, but avoid shooting the male waitresses (who, when shot, rip out their clothes and run to you with hearts in their eyes), Elvis impersonators and the dogs (dodge them to keep your pants unsoiled!).

14. You have couple of bullets to shoot a shogun - only problem is that he's protected by his bodyguards. Try to slip one bullet thru a gap between the guards, or wait for the second player to accidentally shoot one of them to make the shogun easier to hit.

15. Your boss in the sushi shop asks you for a type of sushi which you must shoot in the moving converyor belts.

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16. Galaga! This is an exact replica of the bonus stages of Galaga. Luckily you have the dual ship power-up from the start.

17. You're a volcano - a video game first? Build up pressure by making circular motion with your stick (stop snickering!) and press fire to launch smouldering boulders at the swarm of UFOs that fly above you.

18. Avoid the busy traffic while simultaneously throwing bombs at the Waaru building until it collapses. Waaru, the PayPal of Tenkomori Shooting?

19. Aim at the slowly moving aircraft and attempt to shoot as many of them down with the few missiles you've got. In order to succeed, getting big combos is a must.

20. Shoot down three battleships, at the same time making sure that the smaller popcorn enemies don't get you.

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21. Xevious! Shooting down the Andor Genesis mothership might have been difficult in the original arcade game - in this version it's even more difficult: you have all the same enemies but only couple of seconds to do it!

22. Shoot the many tanks that pour out the the enemy base. Maybe it's the helicopter, but this feels like Twin Cobra 2.

23. Tasty insects gather on the plants that grow around your pond. You, as a fish, must first spit on the insects so that they fall into the water. Then eat them before they float off the screen. Very difficult!

24. Destroy the tank, avoiding its weaponry. This game plays, looks and feels exactly like the games in the Raiden Fighters / Gun Dogs series.

25. The screen is filling with flying bugs. Avoid them with your biplane and when you think you can't handle it any longer, press a button to drop a screen-clearing bomb. Drop it too soon, and you don't kill enough bugs. Don't drop it soon enough and you collide with a bug. A very simplistic game, but in my opinion the best of the bunch!

Can you go wrong with such variety?
No, you can't!