Arcades are a bit of a bygone era, unlike record stores and tea rooms, no one is clamouring for a return to giant cabinets and dudes with change dispensers positioned directly above their genitals. Which is a shame because arcades were where my love of gaming was born! Sure home consoles were my first taste of video games, but the passion was ignited by the big cabinets and sound effects only found in an arcade.
During my trip to EGX last year, the highlight wasn’t all the new games we got to try or the experience of meeting new people, no. It was the massive collection of retro arcade games for me to sink my teeth into again! I’m sure that my team mates Luke and Jav were sick of hearing me scream “SPACE HARRIER!” every time we walked past the cabinet, but I didn’t care, I was beyond happy!
So, this week, after Stu’s latest bears den video went live referring to punch out and top down bullet hell games (which you can watch below) I was reminded of my love for clunky arcade titles and thought I would write a piece about some of my favourites! So, in no particular order…
Of course, this was going to be here! Space Harrier is a game that has stuck with me forever since I first sat down in its moving bucket seat to fly through mad environments blasting at aliens with a massive under arm cannon! The pinnacle of the “what the hell is happening” age of arcade games, there is absolutely no rhyme or reason behind what is happening on screen, your mission is to simply rack up point killing bad guys and not ask too many questions dammit!
Light guns are rad, can we all agree on that? Good. Time Crisis was the first light gun title I played in an era populated by them and it made me feel like such a bad ass. Running through a packed military base and castle ad Richard Miller the one-man army was awesome and not easily topped, being one of the few games I was proficient at too, I could beat the entire game with just one coin and in a little under half an hour. A feat that normally garnered me a little audience too. This was the best we had before streaming okay? Also, Time Crisis came with one of the coolest bad guys ever, Wilddog, we won’t talk about what happened too him in the more recent games though…
STAR WARS TRILOGY
Not too surprising that Star Wars made It onto yet another list of mine is it? This was a pocket money eater and a half, I distinctly remember sinking £11 into one session on this sit-down machine and the absolute ear bashing I received from my mother about it… but did I feel like I wasted my money? ABSOLUTELY NOT! Trilogy was controlled with a joy stick and let you enjoy space battles from the trench run on the death star, so the assault on echo base and even a couple of lightsaber sections against Vader and even Boba Fett! It gave you a great sense of really being in the action and as a little Star Wars nerd, I couldn’t ask for much more than that.
There are a metric ton of fighting games available in arcades. I could have picked any really, but I had to choose the one that ate the most of my time! Tekken has always been one of my favourite fighting franchises and the videos playing on the 5 cabinets drew me in like a moth to flame, Heihachi Mishima was dead?! Raven (who looked like Blade) cut a robot in 4 pieces?! This was the best start ever. Cue several hours of beasting my friend who had no idea how fighting games worked…sorry James but I just had to do it. Remember kids, Law’s somersault kicks will rinse noobs in no time, winner stays on yeah?
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: TURTLES IN TIME
Oh yes, the absolute daddy of multiplayer arcade titles. Critically acclaimed and a measuring sticks for similar games since. Turtles in time is hard to top for multiplayer fun even today! A beat ’em up starting the entire Turtles cast from the heroes in a half shell themselves all the way up to god damn Krang! You can bet me, and my friends would blast are way through this on the regular. There was a SNES port too but it just had none of the same charm, missing the bright colour sprites and smooth movements that drew in the crowds of the arcades and made sure these cabinets had coins lined up waiting for a chance to smash Bebop and Rocksteady in their stupid faces!