Considering how often i’ve been frequenting a certain arcade lately, I thought it would be fun to write up a top 10 list. So in no particular order, here are 10 of my favorite arcade games from years gone by, hopefully you’ve at least played some of them?
Time Crisis 2
An Oldie but goodie, and probably one of the most common cabinets in the world? Time Crisis 2 released in 1998(!) redefined and refined the shooter genre with it’s sweet pedal reload, it’s loudy force feedback guns and its innovative asymmetrical multiplayer gameplay. Truly a classic game – though a shame unless you’re a god you won’t see much past area 1 with one credit, let alone continue into the forest stage.
In my opinion, the best arcade shooter made to date. Snappy controls, great pacing and holy shit that fucking gun with the force kicker in the stock. I must have put at least £30 into this machine in single credits, and i’ll still happily play it today, despite completing the whole game 20 times over. Good players can blow through the whole game in one credit, better players can increase the difficulty on the menu to introduce more challenges and make the event scenes harder. Ghost Squad was also one of the first few games to introduce cards which allow you to save your progress and unlock new equipment and weapons as you play.
Confidential Mission by Hitmaker was also in this list, a similar style of game which was well polished and refined, but Ghost squad just edged it out, purely because the burst fire on those plastic UMP’s were awesome.
Somewhat expected if you’ve been following my blog recently, almost 900 songs and counting with each release, IIDX goes from casual to hardcore, to casual hardocre to insanity – allowing players to play with 3 difficulty levels and with 7keys or 14keys (and 2 turntables). The replay factor of this one is it’s main strength, not only will you probably need to play a few hundred credits to be able to get good at the game, you can then get involved in fully completing the game (completing every single song) or score chasing with friends and strangers alike. The later machines are cleverly made to record your scores on an online network which is accessible on all devices, letting you keep tabs on your friends scores and being able to compare them to your own. It’s a slippery slope, but for rhythm gamers, one hell of a fun one.
Fighting Mania(Skip to 66 Seconds)
Modelled after the Fist of the North star series, how could FIghting Mania not be good? The game is played by physically punching pads at the right time as they flick out at you, with cues via video and audio to alert you to the status of the fight. The machine is almost always hilariously loud, with kung-fu noises exploding from the machine as you smack the pads with little regard for your own safety (safety gloves? pffft). Each level features a different enemy, with their own unique special moves and your own special finisher for each one – fans of the manga/anime will be happy to know that all their favorite moves and scenes are present in the game, from the hundred crack fist of the north star, to the slow deliberate punches on heart. Be warned however that the game is hard as hell, and will often demand more of your money before you can even kill 2 enemies. (ps. Theres a cab at astro in southend)
Afterburner Climax (Super Deluxe Cab)
As a game itself, afterburner climax was decent though nothing to blog about, the super deluxe edition of the arcade cab however, is a completely different story. A gigantic screen mounted upon a moving platform with the seat affixed as well. You need to put a seatbelt on to play, which probably says a lot in itself. As the game starts, the seat rumbles and the surround speakers in the headset come to life, from here your ups, downs and pans are all physically recreated by the moving platform, the screen and seat whip around with you attached. It’s really a fantastic experience, though sadly due to the high price of the machine, the game is very rare to find now, meaning if you didn’t already get a chance to play it, theres a fair chance you won’t.
Jurassic Park 2: The lost world^Skip to 2:35 for familiar music
Speaking of crazy arcade experiences, I think Jurassic Park Lost world is one of the first arcade shooters to pioneer the sit-in cabinet with curtains, this let them dim the lights and turn up the volume and bass for a more thrilling experience. Way back in the day (10+ years ago?) there was a full enclosure version at Segaworld in London, which would have a spinning seat and giant fans/water effects for when the T-Rex attacks you, it was amazing. Of note also is the speed of the game, raptors really sprint at you, yet can be taken out in one or two well placed shots, with a satisfying burst particle when shot. Who can forget also the music that plays during the first level, often blaring reeeaally loud from underneath you.
Star Wars Arcade
Another classic, Star Wars Arcade was memorable for it’s joystick rail shooter segments on the death star, hoth and endor, as well as the lightsaber battles which would have you deflecting bullets or slicing away at darth vader himself. These cabinets were gigantic, and sitting inside the cab, the screen would really engulf you. Graphically the game was pretty good too (for the time) and of course accompanied by that famous soundtrack.
The evolution of gauntlet, or an arcade version of streets of rage, Spikeout was a 3d multiplayer brawler where a credit could last you surprisingly long. Arguably it didn’t do anything particularly groundbreaking, but I remember oriental city having a full row of 4 cabs hooked up for multiplayer, and you could just sit down, pump and credit in and join in the fight with whoever else was playing – a great way to socialize a little and just in general a lot of fun
Found only in a few arcades in Japan last I checked, gunslinger stratos is an online shooter which puts players in 4v4 battles against each other, it plays out very similar to the many free to play third person shooter PC games from korea, except for the part where you are fighting with other people in the same arcade, and are standing there dual wielding lightguns (as standard). These two pistols are magnetized too, so when you’ve finished your pistol/uzi ammo, you can combine the guns side by side and your character will take out a machine gun or shotgun for example, detaching them again and placing them one on top of the other will materialize a rocket launcher or other heavy weapon. It’s full of novel ideas, and who doesn’t enjoy dual wielding as standard.
Where the hell did this game go? I need this in my life again. Panic Park was a series of minigames in similar vain to bishi-bashi, except the minigames were platformers by nature, and designed to take advantage of the unique control scheme – Panic park is controlled by 2 handles, an designed for two players, the problem is these handles exist on the same horizontal axis, meaning if player 1 needs to go onto the right side of the screen, he’s going to have to push player 2 out of the way. As you can imagine then, many of the games involve narrow pathways, or doorways only large enough for one player – forcing players to fight each other for these objectives. Arguably one of the best two player arcade games out there.
– LA Machineguns – One time, it was on freeplay and I started losing feeling in my arms
– Outrun Coast to Coast