Oh no Space Harrier?
I’d better say it from the outset: picking 20 all-time arcade game classics is a nightmarish task, not simply because of the almost endless array of titles available to choose from, but because of all the really good ones you have to omit. Space Invader Here then, are the titles that made the cut, either because they have …
> No Afterburner on the list? For shame, sir!
I managed to read this post 8 times, due to the fact the pages had the "top scored posts" at the bottom of every bloody page.
*why*? Even on single pages reading a "top reply" first may be senseless if you don't see what it's a reply to,
If it ain't broke, don't break it :(
Yup, got to concur with Star Wars. I spent FAR too much time playing that at Uni. Including one 11 hour game (got to 95 million+, 350 odd death stars (the counter stuck at 99, but after 256 it went back to 0), and then the arcade closed and they threw me out! Still don't know if the score can handle 100M :))
I knew - and loved - all the earlier games, but the later ones were a mystery. I think I discovered girls or something.
For me, Space Invaders - the first really huge game, Donkey Kong - the first platformer, Star Wars - incredible 3D, but I think BattleZone was first on the Vector 3D..., and Gauntlet - just damn good fun in the Union bar - I got the adaptor for my Atari ST so that we could play G2 4 up on the machine - but since you couldn't buy more healther, it wasn't as good.
All classics - and cheers for the memories (btw, no Lunar Lander? That was the first I played, in the mini Virgin Megastore in Nottingham...)
Paperboy was an arcade game you could crash by holding full right (or it might of been left) at the end of the level. This would cause you to miss the end of the level and carry on into the abyss. :) Space Harrier missing? makes me sad. That must of been one of the first full motion sit in arcade cabinet games. There are so many other iconic games missing, Golden Axe, Pole Position, Outrun, Mr Do, Bagman.. Maybe a top 100 list next time?
The follow up to Track and Field, Hyper Sports should really have taken it's place. The game play was better as each round got more and more difficult to pass.
Track and Field stopped getting hard after 3 or 4 rounds and and it was possible to play it for 14 hours on a single 10p (restricted to the opening hours of the shop it was in). We did this as a relay team one day taking turns to do rounds - Think we ended up with a score of around 7 million.
For any Hyper Sports fans out there I was part of a partnership called HFX - we mainly played in the north (as that was where we were from and weren't old enough to drive). We held the vast majority of records in Blackpool and surrounding holiday locations.
And to add to the list:
Dragon's Lair (or Space Ace) - As something different, with it's laserdisc animated graphics
Hypersports - much better than track and field (using half a kinder egg to mash the buttons).
Galaxians - would deserve a place, but I guess too much to squeeze into 20 that already has Space Invaders (which should of course always be #1 in the list).
Joust - still love that game today!
Rampage - manga monster mash! Nuff said.
Yes there are a ton of others you could have had, but the 10 you picked were all bang on as far as I'm concerned, all ten have swallowed up their fair share of my time (actually probably much more than that).
Killer Instinct Arcade would be on their if it was my list, the only arcade I have ever 100% finished (even with eyedol) but it's your list not mine so 10/10 :)
Space Fire Bird (with the screen embedded in a table) and Missile Command? Fond memoiries of playing that in the Bournemouth Pier arcade. The huge explosion when you lost Missile Command and the words THE END blazing from the screen.... ah those were the days.
Explosion icon, obviously.
I used to be pretty good at Missile Command. Was certainly on the High-Score table most times anywhere I played, and often at the top.
One day I cam to my favourite machine (with the smoothest track ball), and there was a stranger playing. I watched him clock the machine (twice, IIRC), have cities stacked up across the screen, and then get bored after about 45 minutes and walk away before he was wiped out (in fact, before he even started losing significant numbers of cities). You would not believe how erratic the intelligent mines became, and yet he could hit them. I think he must have maxed out the difficulty levels, and the machine started using more and more lurid colour combinations to put him off.
I never saw him again, and I lost all interest in playing, knowing that I could NEVER be that good. In fact, that was pretty much the end of me spending time in Arcades.
Yup, it was Berzerk. I think the opening phrase was "Get the humanoid, get the intruder!" It would also interject with "Attack it!", "Charge the humanoid! and similar during gameplay. It also featured hurry-up enemy Evil Otto, the most deadly and indestructible smiley face ever (Alan Moore's Comedian can eat his heart out. :-) Look, there he is now, at the top left of the post! Time to go!! :-)
Thanks. Was just trying to remember what that was called, and of course it's Gorf. Which, as I recall, had a space invader type level, and then a bunch of others, finishing with the mothership. Then was it back to the beginning (but faster)?
I still like Space Invaders. I still sometimes play it on albinoblacksheep.com.
I'd love to find a way to play Gauntlet again. I was looking for that a while back, but no joy. Hmmm. Looks like a lot of this stuff has turned up on the iPad since I last looked. I wonder how it plays on a touchscreen though? Probably not well.
Ah, yes, Galaxians - my personal favorite of the "quarter-eater" generation. Wave 1 - Best hand-eye coordination practice ever. I still play it occasionally. I was shown how to play it at University. The challenge is to never, ever shoot an alien from behind, only when it's coming at you. Complete Wave 1 without losing a ship. If you can do it, you've won! If you can't, do it again ... and again .. and again... and again ...
A pretty good list there. Defender ranks as #1 for me personally and yes, where's Galaxian or even Scramble, though let's face it, too many to mention and to nail into a top 10 easily.
I threw far too many coins into Xevious myself.
Also worth noting, Bradford's National Media Museum has a room with some cabinets and sit-downs in for retro-gaming goodness, and still at the original 10p per game too. They have Defender too... I'll always try to find time to have a blast on that when I'm there.
Its all very well putting in chase HQ, but surely the golden age of racing games was the 90's when you could finally race your mates on two player with a bit of force feedback in the steering wheel. Sega rally for my money.
And how about bit of puzzle bobble in the students union anyone?
I did. There wasn't any destruction, unless you crashed. It was simpy drive as hard and fast as you can.
Even better was Hard Drivin'. I spent every lunch hour at the mall in the arcade ignoring the very attractive red-head while using all of my lunch money, and some of my drinking money, to write sentences on the high-score screen. The best part was the ability to run the course backwards...
Oh, and Other than these two....I sucked at video games (and still do).
This brings back some fond memories of being a teenage immigrant lad in South Africa in the late 70's as the arcade games era hit us..
I recall Ridge Racer, then Space Invaders being the first two I saw at the local cafe (as the cafe's were the pre-games arcade hangout for "gamers")
Then came Donkey Kong, my next addicition and introduction to the Brothers "Mario"
"Track and Field" was known as "Hyper Olympics" here, exact same game, different name but a great game!
By the early 80's games arcades sprung up all over the place, usually alongside roadhouses or cafes, as the (usually Portuguese or Greek) cafe owners saw the opportunity and opened arcades.
I do recall most of the titles, we didn't get them all here, sadly, but one thing I believe needed a mention is this nostalgic article was "Asteroids"
Thanks for the trip down memory lane to when I was a teenage school/college boy who used to starve all day just to spend his "lunch money" on those great CRT and oversized button equipped coinops..
which was a far better game.
I also spent quite a few quarters in Beserk, not that I expect it to make a top 20 list. "Come back and fight like a robot!"
I suppose Donkey Kong get's you the Mario Brothers franchise, but I far preferred the turtle game. Played Kong on a console again recently and had the same issue with icon locating that I found irritating in the first.
And where the heck is Robotron?!?!?! Sure Battlezone gave you pedals and a yoke, but Robotron required the use of both joy sticks, and in a fashion that doesn't exactly come naturally to the human brain.
Still the picks on the early games are good. Can't comment on the new ones. Stopped doing the arcades around 1990, but I do get nostalgic for them.
A great list. Many of my all time favourites on there. It takes me back to to days spent on tript to Scarborough or in the 'Harrogate Computer & Video Centre' (I think that was what it was called) down in the basement arcade playing games.
My all time favourite though has got to be Nemesis. I could always complete this on 10p and often stopped to discover a crowd had gathered to watch. These days I don't get to arcades so use emulators to get my fix when I have the time.
Alien in lieu of a space invader icon.
Hmmm. It's a good list but missing a few: Missile Command, Galaxian, some of the overhead multi-player racing around the track games (can never remember the name - you get spanners and such to power up your car after races), the afterburner type pseudo-3d high speed shoot em up, and there are no examples of vertically scrolling shooters either, such as "battle for midway" but I'm sure that wasn't the first and possibly not the best.
There was also a ground breakingly different one where you got to drive a tank using two vertically aligned joysticks...
I used to hog the high score table of both the Xevious machines in Dundee back in the early 80's, and the one in the arcade in Glasgow (one of the ones on Argyle Street), several years after I'd stopped playing them regularly, I found myself back in the arcade in Glasgow one drunken Friday night, early 90's, found the Xevious machine still there and that no-one had ever beaten my highscores.
Only one person in Dundee ever beat me, he worked in a bank (I think) on Reform Street.
Xevious and Mad Planets..way too many boozy hours in the Arcades as a student spent on them both..I've tried playing them on MAME, but it ain't the same..
All the usual suspects, can't go too far wrong with that list.
I would stick with Outrun over ChaseHQ, I still play that today. And I would stick Robotron 2084 in not SmashTV.
This is my arcade cabinet, I built it when I ran out of space for a full sized cabinet :)
All those newfangled computers! When I was spending my kopecks that was on the real thing, like this - proper analog stuff, with a real periscope! Sinking capitalist-imperialist fleet with my proletarian green-glowing (nukular?) torpedoes!
Playable emulator here: http://morskoy-boy.15kop.ru/game/ (Press the big red button at the top to play).
What was that game that had live action scenes played. It was a western and you had to shoot things at the right time to move on? If you got it right the next scene played. If not a death scene played. (Something like that - it was a long time ago now.)
I remember seeing it crashed in an arcade in Margate and it was showing the infamous Guru Meditation; sooo chuffed to find out that it was basically an Amiga inside.
I wonder how much time and money I spent on all of these? Esp Star Wars as I played this so much I used to dream about it.
Although my absolute favourite was a vertical scrolling shooter called Flying Shark. Only 4 (very large) levels but eventually I could complete the whole thing twice on a single life. When they took the machine out of Shivers arcade in Leicester I was slightly miffed. Now arcades are full of fruit machines.
Pac Land. I loved that one too and can hear the music now!
Beat me to it. I still remember reading the articles about how awesome Dragon's Lair was, and waiting months for the local arcade to get one. The graphics were way cool for the time, but I can't recall I was ever very good at the game itself. And, iirc, it was a 4-quarters game in the arcades around here, so playing was pricey. One game of Dragon's Lair where I was sure to die quickly, or four games of Galaxian? Wasn't too hard to make that choice. But when it first came out, DL was visually amazing.
I always thought Space Ace (the sci-fi variant on the same laserdisc hardware) was better.
But in either case, it was almost as much fun to watch someone who was skilled at the game going through it to just enjoy the storyline (or Dirk getting fried). A fun way to waste a chunk o'time.
+1 for Space Ace. Spent many an hour playing and completing that one.
If I remember correctly there were a couple of decision points in thengame where you could go one way or another. Basically you could choose the easy or hard route. And it wasn't always obvious that there was an alternative decision to the one suggested by the game play.
Another one for Xevious here.
As well as 1942, at least one of the massive Sega hydraulic cabinet games (for my tastes Afterburner), at least one sideways scrolling solider-y game (Green Beret/Contra or again, for my taste, Super-Contra with the 3 screen big end of level bosses).
Still, I reckon that Star Wars & Gauntlet probably gobbled up more of my pocket money than any other machines and my first ever interaction with a home computer of any sort was Space Invaders on a Commodore PET!
Never really got into the arcade scene - think I was a bit too young and home computers were more interesting and cheaper to run.
But definitely played to death Tank Trax (the controls and the "periscope"), Spy Hunter (the controls and the music), Wonderboy (just because), Operation Wolf/Thunderbolt (the guns and the multiplay), Space Harrier (the huge moving apparatus on the better versions), Dragonninja ("Bad Dudes vs" in some places) and - most of all - Final Fight.
Final Fight is the only arcade game that I ever completed. My brother and I, in a Butlin's holiday camp, and a bag full of 10p's, going right through the whole game in one sitting. Damn, that felt like an achievement back then.
But arcade is dead. Even the dance games couldn't save it. And the Wii and high-end gaming gear brought all that equipment into the home.
Hell, I'm looking at getting a cheap Logitech G72 with the full pedal set - finally looks like a complete driving simulator is doable for a half-decent price rather than costing a fortune to have a junky Wii-like feel to a steering wheel (like my last 15-pin D-socket one that I bought).
...on Aberdeen beach. Happy days spending all my money on Outrun (got top sores on that one), BattleZone, Star Wars and there was a Gauntlet in the Aberdeen Students Union as well ("Elf's life force is running out"). I tried Space Harrier once, I felt travel sick and nearly fell off, couldnt get the hang of HangOn either, unless it was just the handlebars version. Going further back into my childhood and I used to play Boot Hill, which was like a western version of pong but with bullets and suitably crappy graphics and sound. :-)
Thanks for all the memories!
Some great gmaes in that list, brings back many happy memories.
Metal Slug is probably the best platform game ever made IMHO. I think it definitely deserves a spot in that list. Still regularly play it today on mame running on the old xbox, nice to finally be able to complete it without spending a fortune in the arcades!
A game I saw once when I was a kid, you controlled a rocket missile, taking off from the bottom of the screen, avoiding a set of left/right floating obstacles (a bit like Frogger I guess) and then you had to collide with a small bunch of enemies at the top of the screen. I've never seen anything like it since. It was in a small arcade area on a cross-channel ferry, late 70s or early 80s :)
I'd love to know what it was...?
...the game that launched dozens of '3d' beat-em-ups
Amidar - weird game where you play a paint roller
Jump Bug - a game I was so addicted to that on holiday in Spain once I used to play a broken cabinet version that had a small electric current running through the metal joystick with my hand wrapped in a t-shirt until the tingling became too intense.
I remember a very early sit down arcade game called 'Rear Gunner'.
Simple stick joystick with a fire button on the top. Waves of 3 enemy would come down from the top of the screen to be shot as quickly as possible. There was only about 3 or 4 wave patterns so it was easy to learn and play for hours. The graphics were very simple. The enemy were triangles and there was a small cross hairs.
A true classic. Must have been in the late 70's, early 80's and predates games such as Battlezone and Star Wars
It's definitely a 'personal' list, not a technical achievement list, and there's nothing wrong with that.
What's never mentioned are the sound FX; sounds like Moon Cresta's FX ring in the ears far longer than expected.
It was great at the time to see new innovations in arcade games year after year though, it true golden age to be a part of.
I remember playing Gauntlet 2 for 3.5 hours on just 10p, now that's getting your money's worth!
"I've not seen such bravery!" and "Yellow Elf needs food badly" ---aagh the rosy haze of memories... :)
But it all ended when Arcades just wanted you to put loads of money in them just to advance in the game. The same thing is happening to iPad/Android games where the user ends up purchasing in-game aids just to advance to the next level. This corporate-centric cash cow wringing ruins gaming for me as a pastime.
I wholeheartedly agree with all 20 entries in the article. And I was very pleased to see some of the seemingly less-obvious choices like R-Type.
Many great games that gobbled probably thousands of dollars from me over the years would benefit from an expanded list . Legendary games one and all: Qix, Bosconian, Galaxian, Galaga, Missile Command, Tempest, Gorf, Tapper, Wizard of War, Xenophobe, Zaxxon, Afterburner, Centipede/Millipede, Metal Slug, 194x (various versions of the WWII vertical scroller), Rastan, Ghosts-n-Goblins, Gyruss, Satan's Hollow, Phoenix, Asteroids, Battlezone, Red Baron, Tron, Discs of Tron, and more. I still regularly play all of these except Discs of Tron, thanks to a MAME project cabinet I built a number of years ago.
I've just read all the way through the comments and you seem to be the *only* person who's mentioned Tetris!!
A brilliantly simple but incredibly addictive game with nice touches like the little Russian figures in the windows who would applaud you when you completed a level.
They'd also do a little victory dance, but if you hit a button, a hook would come out from the side and snag them around the neck and drag them off! (If you timed it right, they'd duck it the first time, but get caught the second time :-) )
I remember one in the 80's that had alien ships coming out from the centre of the screen in any direction and you could fly your ship in a circle around the edge of the screen always pointing into the centre, at the alien ships, shooting them. I am sure it was called Zero. I spent a lot of time on that one, most enjoyable.
Centipede was another favourite, together with Defender. I still have R-Type for my ancient Amstrad CPC664, never could get to the end. Also got Ghosts and Goblins which always showed as black and white if you used the modem with it to pay it on a tv and Elite. Galaxian, Galaxia, Phoenix were good ones. There are a lot I have probably forgotten.
Loved playing ... Asteroids (and later Thrust on C64), Moon Patrol (2 player version), Double Dragon (backwards elbow strike FTW), Bubble Bobble (relaxing, but great powerups), Ghosts and Goblins (hard!), Rampage (smashing and eating) and Outrun (bike racing games were great too).
In another really fun game that I came across in later years (probably in Thailand, or somewhere in East Asia at any rate) you had to control a flying balloon by cycling and steering with a set of handlebars. No idea what it was called.
The article is about arcade games... ie, games that could be played outside the house in video arcades, not home computer games. I think a few have missed that point (or, not to be condescending, are too young to know about arcades).
Late 70s through to late 80s... that's when it was all really happening with coin-ops.
Maybe there's a market here for just such a retro arcade place - maybe stocked with MAME cabinets (though I doubt that's entirely legal...)
I reckon this top ten list is warped toward yank favourites, eg for us Brits, Paper Boy?!! Dodgy or wot.
IFRC, over here most coin ops appeared and were played at first in pubs rather than arcades (which I think only got commonplace much later when planning regs were relaxed & tended to only be at the seaside or in a few of the dodgier parts of cities), so naturally memories are a bit hazy but here goes.
The first coin op game I played was Pong, then came Space Invaders, then I'm not so sure of the order but I think it was, Asteroids, Battlezone, Defender, Frogger, Missile Command, Donkey Kong, Pacman, Galaxian. Lunar Lander was a bit of a niche one as it was more difficult to play when pi**ed. Dig-Dug I only played as a bootleg on an early IMB PC at work (copied off a 5 1/4 floppy!) . Forget those after mid eghties as by then the beer drinking had completely taken over.
Never heard of Q'bert, Spyhunter and the rest apart from Streetfighter, but anything decent would have been available over here on the Spectrum/Commodore/BBC.
Joust was such a good game that it even got a special zone in World of Warcraft - Cataclysm :)
There was a plethora of games that I miss from my youth. Crazy Climber, Space Invaders, Donkey Kong, Defender, Scramble, Streetfighter(any version), Galaxians and Galaga, Asteroids, Tetris, Lunar Lander, Frogger...
Ahh... the hours (and dollars) spent wasting time playing those games... I think that I might have to go looking for some classic arcade machines :D
Not so much a list of bests but the games I wasted a silly amount money in (hydraulic cabinets - don't get many of them in the local chippy or Taxi office)...
Space Invaders (the Grand daddy - I'm too young for pong)
Pac-Man (the original I didn't even know Ms Pac-Man existed in the Arcade)
Buck Rogers (Medway services made a fortune out of me on this one)
Aliens (Two player sideway scroller - in the corner of the local video rental store)
Mortal Kombat 2 (Kung Lao or Mileena)
and more recently (this side of the year 2000) House of the Dead 3 - with shot guns! ('nough said)
The article is only about games you played in an arcade - you know - loads of flashy lights, banks of those copper-shoving machines, a few air hockey tables and pinball machines, usually found on a windswept promenade or pier, and the odd odours of 4 week old popcorn and cigarettes smoked by mucky looking 5 year olds hovering suspiciously by the door?
Playing in an arcade was like entering an illicit world of unbridled, dirty entertainment... oh er I seem to be getting aroused. I'll get me coat!
Having grown up in the 70s I found my game of choice changed over time. Starting with:
Never a real fan of platformers so shootem ups continued to see my coins.
There was also a pinball machine that fired hundreds of ball bearings at light targets traveling up the sides of the table. You used two handles to rotate your gun barrell to aim at the targets. Anyone remember the name of this table? Would love to own one of these.
Time to dust off mame and my mame console tonight
I actually wrote a copy of "Space Invaders" that ran on a UK101. 6502-based. Wrote it in Basic...
Head bean-counter tried his hand, somehow even he couldn't understand that the srength you hit the keyboard made absolutely no difference to the force of the missile!
Alright, it worked, but admittedly a tad slow.
I never, ever finished "Trinity" - text based. They were REAL games!!!
Sorted out the "Gnomon Conquest" bit, never worked out the rest. I guess I needed to play a few more games of "Kensington" (still have my 1979 edition) to help me overcome the nannies pushing prams in the park.
I just searched for screenshots of Tempest, that was a different game and I remember it now, only just. A good one that was.
Just found Gyruss on youtube. Yes, that's the one, damn fine game, many hours spent playing that when I should have been studying.
Thank you both.
Sadly I never got a chance to play a lot of these games, though I do remember seeing a lot of them in action. My memories were of the more "modern" titles, 4 player Turtles and Simpsons - cheesy but I enjoyed them. Along with the odd go on Mortal Kombat and Killer Instinct.
I remember having a go on Mad Dog McCree (which was mentioned earlier) when I was quite young...I don't think I made it past the first shot! :)
Ahhh...the days after school spent in a basement arcade filled with lights, sounds and the smell of popcorn. Me and my buds smashing buttons to rock music blaring over the electronic beckoning of rows and rows of hypnotizing games.
My kids don't understand the shit eating grin when I'm watching movies like War Games or The Last Starfighter, nor do they understand the subsequent urge to play Microsoft Arcade/Return of Arcade.
Man the 70s and 80s...those were the days.
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BattleZone got around 17 mentions .... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battlezone_(1980_video_game) ... apparently it was the first game used in training by the US Army ... but my other favourite, Atari Orbit - got none ! http://www.arcade-museum.com/game_detail.php?game_id=8929 What a great game - you could even tweak the physics for more gravity, more / less thrust, absolute / relative direction control .....
Maybe, (like a few other 'tards), I should be getting into MAME and relive these classics a bit !
Great list, well done; must have been a nightmare to choose.
Yie Ar Kung Fu was the title of the game I've been wracking my brains to remember for years; that really was a great game. You could learn superb moves, but the game learned to avoid them, so you had to save your best moves for the last opponents, making progress through all the levels a self-imposed balancing-act; brilliant!
It is obvious to me that I stopped playing these games in 85 - don't recognize one after that - moved on to better graphics? Real life? Work?
It's taken almost 30 years for good game design to get back into games.
Also evaluating a game is almost impossible; for example take STO, I played it when it went FREE for about 10 hours and thought it was just stupid, repetitive, and flawed with errors in the initial missions, gave no direction, and incomplete info.
Now that I've played (and remember, I'm retired) over 200 hours, still free, I think it is an amazing game; it is poorly presented, introduced and explained; it has the oldest/poorest starting scenarios, and yet at some point it completely morphed into a deeply complex, highly detailed, immensely satisfying game - but only after achieving a certain level of experience where the differences began to show themselves - beams versus cannons, 3 Eng. vs. 4 Eng. slots, etc.
If I had written a 10 hour review it would have said 'skip it' - now my review is "must play" (every day...)
We all have our "top whatever" lists, and I thank you for giving really good reasons why; except why you left out (fill-in favorite game here.) !
The BEST 3D environmental EVER! So awesome I had to by one for myself as a Christmas present a few years ago.
The game Galaxians (very similar to Space Invaders but not the same) was what stopped me drinking too much Guinness and eating too many beans-on-toast snacks in a local 'pub' after I left England! We even had a kind of 'league', once I reached the limit of 32,767 points before they did an update for that!!!
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