Back in the earliest days of video games, before home consoles and mobile phones, games found another way to thrive; in a video games arcade. Spawning many of today’s classic characters and formats, modern day gamers owe a lot to the noisy video arcades of the late 70’s and early 80’s.
In salute to their role in getting video games to where they are today, let’s take a look at the best arcade games around.
Once king of arcade games, Atari released the space shooter classic, Asteroids, in 1979. The point of the game, as I’m sure everyone knows, is to destroy asteroids and saucers. This is achieved by the player, in control of a triangular ship, moving left and right, all the while firing shots at the invading alien hoards. Working from the templates of previous impending space based doom and gloom shooters, such as Space Invaders, the new update allowed for far more mobility in battle and released your defender from its very much anchored position at the bottom of the screen. The attack was far greater here too as, in Asteroids, the player now had to deal with threats from all sides and angles as well as having ships fire missiles at them, making it one of the best and most iconic arcade games ever.
A very similar game to play as Asteroids is the Casino based space invader, Max Damage and the Alien Attack, which was actually the very first Arcade Game released on the Microgaming network. It even includes awesome retro graphics to perfectly capture that arcade feel as you fight your way through nine levels killing off all the alien ships that appear on your screen. Featuring fun animation and amusing sound effects, you’ll need to look after your six lives in battle but, thankfully, there are health boosters, amours and plenty of ammunitions to help you reach your goal. In a nut shell, blast everything that comes your way to win real money rewards – similar to classic online casino slot games.
Created by legendary designer Shigeru Miyamoto, Nintendo’s 1981 classic Donkey Kong was one of the earliest platformers on the market and helped launch the virtual careers of not one but two of Nintendo’s most iconic characters, both still very much thriving today. Basically, playing across four screens, a massive ape, played here by Donkey Kong, is hurling down barrels at your character, Jump Man, who is sporting a red hat and overalls. It’s this workman, a plumber possibly, who is the focus of your attention as Donkey Kong has stolen his girlfriend, Lady, and isn’t keen on the idea of returning her. Its basically a timing game, where you navigate your way to Lady, dodging barrels as you do so, and save her from the ape. On its release in the US, the American Nintendo team based there disliked the names and re-christened Lady as Pauline and Jump Man as Mario, who went to become to Nintendo what Mickey Mouse if to Disney, head mascot.
Namco’s superb chomper puzzle game is quite simply the quintessential all-time numero uno arcade game and you’d be hard pressed to stage a cohesive argument to the alternative. Unless you didn’t grow up playing arcade games that is. In which case, why not and what is wrong with you? This greedy little yellow ball is still going strong today, be it as a Nintendo, or video games in general, mascot or in constant releases that never reach its original level. Or his wife’s. Oh yeah, there as a Mrs Pac Man too and we can’t mention one without the other. This, of course, was a time where almost all arcade games were shooters and aliens which helped Pac-Man’s non-violent (unless you’re a ghost, in which case it was super violent), maze chase, pill munching, ghost gobbling game become an overnight success, which has stood the test of time.
Street Fighter 2
1991’s Capcom classic fighter release Street Fighter 2 was THE arcade of its era way surpassing its 1987 predecessor and leaving a beat’em up legacy to be proud of. By way of intense button mashing, players could travel the world and fight in the back streets of Tokyo or the jungle swamps of Brazil for example. The game included crazy, if stereotypical, characters such as Ken from the USA, as was the pilot Guile. Then, representing the girls, was China’s Chun Li while the Japanese could call on both Sumo Wrestler E Honda and Ryu, who was basically the same as Ken. Players could also play as the Russian Sangief or Brazilian swamp mutant Blanka, on their way to face off in the finals against Yoga finalist Dhalsam, US boxer Balrog and, finally, the villain of the piece, Thailand’s M Bison. The machine was an instant hit, largely thanks to its fast and furious gameplay and no arcade of the era would be seen without its machine.