Classic Game Fest Returns to Austin, so here's our Top 5 Favorite Arcade Games Ever!
We are STOKED to be going to Classic Game Fest this weekend, the BIGGEST retro gaming event in Texas! There will be panels about gaming and development, tournaments (MARIO KART DOUBLE DASH YALL!), vendors, costume contests, gaming-inspired musicians, and best of all, ARCADE GAMES (which are FREE to play). Old and young nerds, alike, be sure to check it out at the Palmer Center this weekend (tix are only $30 for the entire weekend, kids under 12 are FREE).
This is our first year attending, so we decided to celebrate by choosing our Top 5 arcade games ever!
5) Crazy Taxi
I fruitlessly pumped so many quarters into a game where you essentially cross town to drop off/pick up the most 90s-looking NPCs (who also bad-mouth your driving the ENTIRE time) while blasting a soundtrack featuring Bad Religion and The Offspring. The short timer made it virtually impossible to play more than a couple of minutes before you lost and had to pay to continue, but I didn’t give two craps.
4) Sunset Riders
The fact that you could play with up to 3 other people made Sunset Riders a main-stay for my friends and I at the arcade, and it’s kind of a bummer how this game isn’t really in the pantheon of arcade classics. A 4-player run-and-gun Western that was both ridiculously cartoonish and quite difficult. You got power-ups by entering open doorways, and when you came out, your character was either 1) Drinking booze or 2) Kissing (what I assume is) an Old West prostitute. The bosses had silly personalities (Boss #1 is fat and gross and says “Bury me with my money” before you kill him) and were REALLY FREAKING HARD TO BEAT (I almost never made it past the first stage before I needed to put more quarters in).
3) Robotron 2084
This game is like if Tron were on acid and cocaine at the same time. There are so many colors flying around in this game I’m surprised I never had a seizure. The “plot” is that the world has been overrun by robots (?) and you have the save the last living nuclear family (who just wander around on screen and die ALL THE TIME). The game play is doubly intense due to the players using TWO joysticks instead of the usual joystick/button combo, which allowed for a 360 firing radius. You were literally flailing both arms around trying to mow down all of the evil robots in the arena. As you go level-to-level, more (and harder) enemies are waiting, until the point where the entire screen is filled with bad guys. It’s like a Stanley Kubrick nightmare, and I loved it.
2) NBA Jam
The gold-standard for all sports games (suck it Tecmo Bowl). You get to play as caricatures of famous NBA players (or other video game characters, or even the President) who can jump 30 feet in the air and dunk on your friends, the ball catches on fire AND shove without a foul being called? Yes, please!
1) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
After almost 30 years, I still have this theme song stuck in my head. While there were a TON of great 4-player arcade games, the TMNT Arcade game had a fun assortment of playable characters each sporting a different weapon (Ralph and his twin sais FOR LIFE, son!), the coolest bad guys (a Rhino/human hybrid holding a giant Gatling gun?!), the best soundtrack, and you had to eat pizza to gain health back.
Street Fighter II - A MUST-HAVE for any arcade experience, and probably one of, if the THE, best fighting games ever. Honestly, the only reason it didn't make Top 5 is because I played this on the consoles just as much as arcade.
The Simpsons - 4-player beat-em-up where you could play as Marge using a fucking vacuum cleaner as a weapon
X-Men - another epic 4-player beat-em-up with a big assortment of playable X-men characters.
5) Gauntlet Dark Legacy
2000 was a GREAT year for arcade games (no foreshadowing at all)! In 2000 Midway Vegas continued on the Gauntlet series with Gauntlet Dark Legacy. Although this game was available on PS2, Gamecube, Xbox, and Gameboy, non rivaled the Arcade version. You and three friends, or random people (remember when you used to just play games with random people in public and it was cool?!) can team up and fight your way through each level. This was one of my first dungeon crawler type games and man, I loved it!
4) Cruis'n USA
Cruis'nnnn YEAHHHH USA! In 1994 Midway Vegas presented us, yet again, with a Banger! Cruis'n USA used to be set up at a restaurant in San Antonio that my brother and I would spend countless hours playing. We played this game so damn much it probably could have payed off my student loans. #gamingovereverything
3) NFL Blitz 2000 Gold Edition
Mother of God. There's no way to include a list of the greatest Arcade Games of all time without having NFL Blitz 2000 Gold Edition on it. In 2000 (see where that foreshadowing came in?) Midway blessed us with yet another unbelievably fun arcade game. Although this was a follow up to previous NFL Blitz titles, this was by far my favorite. The hours of rage put into this game at CiCi's Pizza is out of this world. Just know, if you want to win always go Broncos! Also, Gold Edition was only available in Arcade form, which made it all the sweeter.
2) Mortal Kombat
Now, one may think I've got no right to talk about this game considering it was made in 1992, but I've been gaming since birth, son. Mortal Kombat is by far the most popular game on this list, and for great reason! This was an unreal fighting game that involved super gruesome kills (at the time) and had immense amount of violence. Mortal Kombat also coined the "finisher" move that we all know and love. Mortal Kombat led to 20 total games being made (not including Kollections), seven films (both TV and movies), and they are STILL being made today.
1) Street Fighter II: Champion Edition
Released in 1992 by CapCom, Street Fighter II: Champion Edition is THE BEST ARCADE GAME OF ALL TIME (come at me, bro). This game was a follow up to the original Street Fighter arcade game, which was a major success, and another great arcade game. For me, this is still the greatest fighting game of all time. You could battle your friends, or play through the campaign fighting your way to the top! All of the characters had background stories that were so good it led to a live action movie with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Raul Julia! I loved this game so much that we even got the actual arcade in our garage and we would play with our friends in 100+ degree heat, because that's how we roll.
NBA Jam - One of the most fun, and annoying games ever made!
Pac-Man - Arguably the most successful arcade games ever. It was so simple, yet so damn hard!
Frogger - It wouldn't be right without mentioning one of the most iconic arcade games ever! Leap across all sorts of stuff and try to not get hit by cars.