Arcades are all but a thing of the past. You can find a good one here or there, but I give almost no credit at all to the Dave & Buster’s of the world and their brand new arcades with their brand new games. With the amazing quality of home console video games, the arcade just loses the feel it once had. But I vividly recall summer days at my local bowling alley throwing quarter after quarter in those slots, and I thought I’d give a biased and slanted rundown of my trip down the road of cabinet video game nostalgia. So, without further ado, we spend way too much money, put our quarter on the ledge and call “NEXT”, as we run down Outright Geekery’s Top o’ the Lot: Old-School Arcade Games.
Honorable Mention: Bubble Boy Hockey
I didn’t spend as much money on this classic arcade game as the others on this list, but it was an amazing and quite memorable game. It was really easy to get into heated games of Bubble Boy Hockey, rematches were often immediately demanded, but my favorite memory of this game was just how good of a wingman it made. Get a girl to help you on defense and you’re sure to get to first base in no time. Yes, I put a baseball reference in a hockey post. It changes absolutely nothing.
I’m not sure why I liked it so much; I’m not sure why my arcade still had this sitting around in the ’90’s; but I’m glad I did and I’m glad it was! Although it debuted in 1983, Spyhunter had staying power that was greater than the sum of its parts. A neat steering wheel, fun premise, better than average graphic, cool gameplay features, and killer music all made this “driving game” a way too difficult quarter eater that I just couldn’t get enough of. I love driving games, but if I had to choose one, it’s this one, and that’s why it’s in the Top o’ the Lot.
4. NBA Jam
Hanging at the arcade was all about playing with your friends, and nothing got gamers playing video games than sports games, and, in the 90’s, there was no better arcade sports game than the legendary NBA Jam. Up to four players, 2 on 2, basketball action, with so much arcade flare that the ball literally caught on fire, a really fun code system that I never quite got the hang of, and actual players from the greatest league on the planet. I’ll take the Orlando Magic. Young Shaq FTW!!
3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
This game holds a special place in the hearts of just about every gamer who grew up able to play this game in its heyday, and it was just about the only game where I’d hand over a quarter to a complete stranger and all but command them to help me kick some Foot ass. But get 4 friends with 5 bucks worth of change in their sagging pockets and you’ve got an afternoon of outrageous fun. Sure they made a console version later and it was actually quite good, but nothing, absolutely nothing, beats the original, and it deservingly sits in the middle of this week’s Lot. It would have been higher if I wasn’t so damned dominating on the next two games.
2. Street Fighter 2
My local bowling alley n the 1990’s (which was also a huge arcade) had two games sitting on either side of the main entrance, and every night there would be lines of players calling “NEXT” for each of them, and this was one of them. Street Fighter 2 was a game-changer for fighting arcade games and would change the entire genre forever. It never really got any successful after this one, but I never needed it to be. I was a powerhouse with Blanka, and Bison, and even Zangief and Balrog, but my main man was Dhalsim, and my Yoga Fire combos were devastating. But I was a pansy compared to my prowess on the Top spot o’ this Lot.
1. Mortal Kombat 2
Not only was I really, really good at this game, but I was really, really good with each and every character. It was almost an illness I had for an entire summer as I sought out codes and strategies for this game anywhere I could, and there was no internet! I read magazines at the local supermarket and wrote down page after page of everything from special stage uppercut finishers to the outlandishly nonsensical Babalities. I’d easily spend 20 bucks on a Friday afternoon just practicing for the Friday night rush, and then fight 40 or 50 matches in a row beating anyone with the audacity to dare drop a quarter in a slot and face me. I may have been a showoff, and I may have pushed a semester or two’s worth of college in quarters down plastic slots, but those skills will pay off…like right now!
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