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Video Game / Tower of Babel

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"Welcome to the Tower of Babel..."

Tower of Babel is a 1986 Famicom puzzle-platforming game by Namco. The game later received ports to the Sharp X68000, Nintendo Gameboy (via Namco Gallery Vol. 3), and most interestingly the PlayStation, on Namco Anthology 1, alongside an enhanced "Arrange" remake version of the game with new levels and graphics among other things.

The plot of the game revolves around Indy Borgnine, an adventurer/archaeologist who has made it his mission to ascend the 64-floor Tower of Babel to discover the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, which are fabled to rest at the top. His quest isn't going to be easy, though—restless spirits, stone golems, among other things, will try to impede his progress.

In order to clear each floor, he must wisely use peculiar L-shaped blocks which have the ability to stack up like staircases and reach the exit. However, he must do so using the least amount of energy he can—if he runs out of energy, he cannot move any more blocks and will faint if he tries. To further complicate his mission, crystal balls are scattered around on some floors, which are required to open the exit. Even more puzzling are large symbols found on every eight floors, seemingly part of some complex password...


This game is notable (in Japan at least) for featuring character designs by Japanese artist Hiroshi Fuji, who worked on several other Namco games, such as The Legend of Valkyrie and Sky Kid. The game received a short-lived webcomic based off of it from ShiftyLook, involving Indy's granddaughter Minnesota being chosen to investigate the tower's decay before its collapse destroys the town surrounding it. Indy also had a prominent role in Episode 8 of the Mappy web series, where he was hired by Goro as a treasure hunter in search of a valuable artifact under Nyamco Headquarters. More recently, the game appeared as a useable theme for Pac-Man 99 as free DLC, changing Pac-Man to Indy and the ghosts to Urs and bats.


Tower of Babel contains examples of:

  • Adventurer Archaeologist: Indy Borgnine, natch.
  • All Just a Dream: Implied in the ending of Neo Babel in the PlayStation remake, in which Indy wakes up after reaching the top.
  • Arrange Mode: "Babel Pro", which is an extra set of 64 new stages, all much harder than the original 64.
    • The Namco Anthology 1 arrange version has two of these, the first being the aftermentioned Babel Pro, but also a new one, "Neo Babel", which is 64 more new stages with much more vibrant backgrounds, such as outer space or a clock tower.
  • Badass Bookworm: Being an archaeologist and adventurer, this comes naturally to Indy.
  • Bat Out of Hell: They're a common enemy, jumping around trying to hit Indy.
  • Captain Ersatz: Indy. Take a wild guess on who he's based off of.
  • Gag Nose: Indy Borgnine himself sports a rather pointy and large schnoz. Downplayed a bit in the Namco Anthology 1 arrange version, where it's still big but not quite as much.
  • Golem: The Baberuzu stone creatures. They walk around at a sluggish pace, and create L-blocks whenever they reach an open ledge.
  • Level Editor: Playing a few rounds of the Arrange version in Namco Anthology 1 unlocks a level editor for you to create your own stages with. It's based around that same version, meaning you get to use any of the 24 level themes for your stages, and you can save up to 10 stages per memory card.
  • Multiple Endings: The Arrange remake has an ending for each mode you play on (Normal, Babel Pro, and Neo Babel).
  • Nice Guy: Indy is a rather noble guy, if the manual and guidebooks are anything to go by.
  • Nice Hat: Indy sports a neat fedora(?) of sorts with a fancy feather in it.
  • Nintendo Hard: Definitely. Mind-bending puzzles, relentless enemies...
  • Our Spirits Are Different: The evil, undead Ur spirits. They roam around the tower, and can kill Indy simply by touching him. The Arrange version includes both a male and female variant, although there is no difference in behavior besides appearance.
  • Password Save: Provided in the form of a four-symbol code consisting of vine, wall, door, or L-block icons. This is notably averted in the arrange version of the game, where it instead allows you to save your progress.
  • Perma-Stubble: The Famicom art of Indy has him sporting this. Averted with his appearance in the PlayStation arrange version where he's clean-shaven.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: In the Arrange remake edition, there exists a female variant of the Ur enemies who sport dark blue hair and very pale skin. Might count as Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette, since they're villainous.
  • Scoring Points: The Famicom version has this, where players can accumulate points for things such as collecting items or for how many power points they had left.
  • Shout-Out: As per a Namco game.
    • The Famicom original features Pac-Man as one of the eight symbols of the Big Password. This is retained in later versions.
    • The arrange version's Neo Babel mode has a set of floors that feature shifting pixel artwork of various Namco characters from games such as Galaga or The Tower of Druaga.
    • In one of three endings of the arrange version, the Hanging Gardens feature a statue of Valkyrie.
  • Strong and Skilled: Indy has great intellect (naturally since he's an archaeologist) and can heave blocks the same size as he is over his head and carry them for long distances, all while strategizing how to outwit his foes.
  • Synthetic Voice Actor: The opening movie for the PlayStation arrange edition has one whispering "Welcome to the Tower of Babel..."
  • Tower of Babel: The main location of the game.