Monday, 6 January 2014

Top Ten Arcade Games Of All-Time

Another 'top ten list' but this time arcade games. This list is not based on sales, or the amount it took in the arcades, it is based purely on my own preference and games I played as a kid. So without too much waffling about nothing here is the list.

10. Double Dragon II - The Revenge (Technos, 1988)

I never played the first Double Dragon until recently on an emulator. Luckily not playing the original makes no difference on the sequel. Choose either Billy or Jimmy Lee and take on level after level of Black Warriors with the obligatory boss at the end of each level. As with every side scrolling beat 'em up there has to be a reason why you are fighting the bad guys - and the reason is that Marian (who was rescued in the first one allegedly) is shot to death by the Leader of the Black Warriors. There wasn't really a great deal of moves but for some reason it was one of those games I played no end as a kid.

09. Operation Wolf (Taito, 1987)

It is an arcade machine with a gun attached to it. What more needs to be said? Not a lot really. The whole plot was shooting anything that moved unless they was a hostage. But unlike a real gun there was a button on the side to launch grenades. The story was you were a Special Forces operative sent in to rescue hostages from a concentration camp. Admittedly there was about 200 bad guys for every hostage. Nothing wasted the money meant for Sunday School better than Operation Wolf.

08. WWF Wrestlemania (Midway, 1995)

You know a wrestling game is old when it starts with WWF rather than WWE. You could choose from 8 wrestlers (Bam Bam Bigelow, Bret Hart, Doink the Clown, Lex Luger, Razor Ramon, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker or Yokozuna) then enter the ring and beat the hell out of the others one after another. The thing about WWF Wrestlemania was it had special moves and combos - for example The Undertaker could cast spirits at his opponents. The gameplay was like all the fighting games at the time whereas you had to win 2 out of 3 rounds to advance to the next opponent.

07. Mortal Kombat (Midway, 1992)

When this machine hit my local arcade it took about 2 hours to actually get to play it - which back then seemed like a lifetime. And when I finally got to play it the wait was well worth it. Back in the 90s an arcade game with blood in it was big news and the guy who ran the local arcade had been on about it months before it finally arrived. Was it great? Not until you pulled off your first fatality. Watching someone else do it just didn't have the same feel. There was 7 characters (Johnny Cage, Kano, Sonya Blade, Raiden, Liu Kang, Sub-Zero and Scorpion) all digitized real people.

06. Robocop (Data East, 1988)

Serve the public trust. Protect the innocent. Uphold the law. Robocop the arcade game was supposedly based on the film released one year earlier although to be honest you wouldn't know it. Taking a side-scroller approach Robocop walks through a level punching and shooting bad guys. At the end of each level is a boss (Spoiler: The level 1 boss is the ED-209). So why is it number 6? Because it is. Digitized speech from the movie and that feeling that somehow you were in the movie if only for a short amount of time. And as a kid you get a little bit of a kick when you finish a level and Robocop spins his gun and puts it back in the holster and says "Thank you for your cooperation".

05. R-Type II (Irem, 1989)

You control a spaceship. You shoot all manner of aliens and other spacecraft. You pick up upgrades for your spaceship. That is it. But that is enough. Compared to graphics today the game may not stand out but what it lacks in graphics (which at the time wasn't much) it makes up for in gameplay. Six levels with a boss at the end of each and 5 different weapons kept me, and others, playing this arcade game over and over again. Even after beating it for some reason you still played it trying to get your initials back to the top of the high scores.

04. Eight Man (SNK, 1991)

This was the first Neo-Geo game the local arcade got. At the time Neo-Geo was blowing away the competition because their graphics were bigger, crisper, and so well done. The gameplay matched the quality of the graphics. Eight Man was based on the manga superhero originally created in 1963. In 1992 a film was made. The game itself had you, as Eight Man, take on an invading evil robot army. The speed of the game was the main selling point as it played fast and fluidly. The only downside was that the levels were pretty repetitive - but as it was the only Neo-Geo game in the local arcade it got played over and over again. For anyone thinking of finding and watching the 1992 film - don't it is terrible.

03. Bad Dudes Vs DragonNinja (Data East, 1988)

The President of the United States has been kidnapped. As the Bad Dudes Blade and Striker it is your task to rescue him from the DragonNinja. In the side-scrolling game you beat your way through levels of ninjas and then defeat a boss to advance to the next level. In each level you can pick up various items (Coke can to add some health, Nunchakus, and knives) to help you on your way. Also you have the ability (by holding the punch button down) to charge up for a power punch. Get to the end, beat the last boss, and enjoy a burger with President Ronald Reagan.

02. Turbo Outrun (Sega, 1989)

It was the sequel to Outrun. But not only was it a sequel the gearshift had a turbo button. The whole idea of the game was driving a Ferrari F40 from New York to Los Angeles. The reason this made it to number 2 in my all-time top ten arcade games was because my local arcade somehow managed to get the sit-down version of this game which made the only other sit-down game (Spy Hunter) look like an Atari 2600 game with a steering wheel. In total there was 16 stages of the game and all you had to do was it make it through the checkpoints and reach the end of each stage before te time ran out. Completely outclassed by the likes of Ridge Racer in terms of graphics but then again Ridge Racer was 4 years after Turbo Outrun.

01. Shinobi (Sega, 1987)

The reason I was late for school. The reason I skipped school a couple of times at least. This game is not only number 1 because it holds a special place in my childhood memories it is number 1 because it is a great game. As Joe Musashi, a modern day ninja, you go through each level rescuing students that have been kidnapped by terrorists. Each level (mission) was going through killing all the baddies and rescuing the students. Rescue so many students on each level and get a gun. Until you get the gun you have infinite shuriken and if you are close enough to an opponent you whip out your sword. Beat the various bosses at the end of each level and before you go to the next level you play the bonus level of throwing shuriken at advancing ninja in a first-person perspective. On each level you get one 'ninja magic' which will clear the screen of all baddies (unless it is the boss of the level where it reduces their power a bit). I'm not sure how many arcades will have an original Shinobi machine but anyone with a Xbox 360 can download an emulated version of the original which is pretty close.

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