10. Sky Shark

    The ultimate endurance contest! Although there is definitely a pattern to it, this game will test your reflexes and willingness to fight back when upon taking losses. You must build up your firepower each time. As in many games, saving your bombs ensures that you have one when you need it, but more importantly it can build your confidence when learning the game. Each of the screens must be perfected at its max difficulty (fourth time around!) to go for the really big scores. As you might guess, this is my all time best game (I've scored over 11 million on it, playing for over 4 and a half hours).
9. Ikari Warriors
    In this war game you get to play Rambo, and if you are good enough you may win it without losing a man. It's a great pattern game with nice big explosions. Love those grenades!
8. Venture
    Classic maze game with three basic levels (floors), several rooms on each floor, and three difficulty levels for each of the three basic levels. Each room on a floor has a treasure which you must collect before the floor is complete. The floor itself is a map showing the rooms solid if cleared, just outlined if not. Inside the rooms are various kinds of monsters which can be destroyed, outside ( on the floor map ) are hall monsters which cannot be killed. The monsters inside slowly disintegrate when you shoot them, but they can never be touched. After a certain period of time ( this depends on the difficulty level ) a hall monster will enter the room if you're still in it ( and you will be at the higher difficulty levels! ) and chase you around, making it harder to get out alive ( especially when your path is partially blocked ). A tense thriller of a game which has you marking time for the hall monster's arrival. Great fun!
7. Donkey Kong
    Like Tron it's four games in one with clear graphics and great game play. It is a great test of timing, peripheral vision, and the ability to sense and react to dangers before they occur. They should bring this game back, only with an opportunity to earn more extra lives.
6. Tron
    It's four games in one and best played in a dark room. Great game play and crystal clear graphics. Tank maze, light cycles, MCP, and I/O tower grid bugs were the four screens, with many difficulty levels. It never gets too hard, just better as you go!
5. Kid Niki Radical Ninja
(Data East)
    This is a combination of a Mario Bros. type game and a fighting game, and is very well done. It has nice graphics, good music, and a sense of humor. Like Dragon Spirit it has bizarre enemies (such as flying squirrels and frogs) The last level is a showstopper which should have you looking just like the character on the cabinet. You must defeat the Stone Wizard in three different attacks, and failure at any of them puts you back at the start of the level. Here are the level descriptions to the best of my knowledge 1. Land of the Trees - Kill "Death Breath", 2. Land of Stone Buddhas - Defeat "Spike", 3. Land of the Cliffs - Defeat "Horned Witch", 4. Cave of Grote Green Grub - Destroy each section with sword then hit the head 3 times after that, 5. Forest of Mad Monks - Turn "Big Baldy" to Stone, 6. ? - Kill Castle Guard when Spear is down, 7. ? - Free Princess Margo from the Stone Wizard, 8. ? - You trapped the wizard finish him off.
4. Scramble
    A horizontally scrolling space game in which the landscape is death to touch, and the player must guard his fuel supply by destroying fuel tanks. You can shoot ahead and drop bombs, your enemies don't shoot back ( not until you play Super Cobra, the sequel, that is! ) but they do attempt to run into you. There are 5 levels followed by the "BASE", a screen which ends as soon as the "base" target is destroyed. The other five are fixed in length and are best described as 1. Rockets, 2. UFOs, 3. Asteroids, 4. The City, and 5. The Maze. Complete everything and you get to do it again, only your fuel supply is consumed faster on return trips through the sequence. It eventually reaches a point where you can't afford to miss any fuel targets.
3. Super Cobra
    This is my favorite sequel game. It has more enemies than Scramble, and they shoot back, move faster, make more aggressive maneuvers, and attack from many different directions. Here there are 10 levels, followed by a screen in which you have to retieve the "booty" and get out alive. My description of the levels: 1. Rockets, 2. Arcing rockets, 3. Red ramming ships, 4. Red ramming ships in caverns, 5. Falling mines, 6. Pursuit tanks, 7. Asteroids, 8. Shooting UFOs, 9. City with Arcing rockets, 10. The Maze.
2. Major Havoc
(Atari, Inc.)
    A brilliant combination of a space shoot-em-up and maze game. There are at least 16 levels in which you must first destroy all enemy spacecraft, then dock with the space platform, and finally enter it in search of the reactor deep inside a maze of hostile robots, ray guns, force fields, fireballs and oxygen to pick up. You can stay inside the platform as long as you have oxygen, but once you touch the reactor you have 30 seconds to get the hell out of there. You cannot shoot but you do get a shield for protection. It can absorb one collision or 4 bullets from the robots but won't keep you from getting fried if you touch the force fields! Also, when the shield is activated, oxygen is consumed more rapidly. Some levels feature alternate escape routes by means of an escape pod, the best visual effect in the game. At least two levels feature anti-gravity boots, which allow you to hover. Normally, when you jump, you fall as soon as you release the button and cannot jump again until you touch the ground. The boots allow "jumping" in midair. The space shoot-em-ups are of four types: fish robots, fighters, the maze, and fighters with obstacles. They don't make 'em like this anymore!
1. Dragon Spirit
    This is a vertically scrolling action/fantasy adventure in which you take to the sky in the form of a fire-breathing dragon and battle bizarre creatures in the air, on the ground below, and even undersea! The graphics are excellent, but even more amazing is the music. Each of the nine levels has its own theme ( level 7 must be heard to be believed - it's incredible ), and a "chief enemy" which you must defeat to advance. You shoot fire at targets in the air, and drop bombs on those below. There are power-ups to be picked up, some of which increase firepower by giving you more heads (!) to shoot with or faster shots. Other power-ups allow miniturization ( a smaller dragon is harder to hit and can squeeze through tight spots! ) , shields to deflect enemy shots , and an "earthquake" which wipes out several enemies at once. As for the enemies, there are other dragons, dinosaurs, spiders, creeping vines, peacocks (!), jellyfish, turtles and many more. The landscape can also be an obstacle, and the toughest levels ( 6 and 9 in particular ) have you dividing time battling the enemies and slipping through narrow spaces. This is one of the few games which features a dark section ( level 8 ) in which you can only see a few inches illuminated in front of you. The brilliant music, bizarre enemies, and the awesome challenge ( of levels 6 and 9 in particular ) made this a one of a kind game. Incidentally, I wrote down the level names (with the chief enemy) back in '87. They are 1. Valley of Spirits - Sea Dragon, 2. Volcano - Fire Bird, 3. Dense Forest - Mammoth Flower, 4. Desert - Bone Dragon, 5. Cave - Spider, 6. Glacier - Blue Dragon, 7. Deep Sea - Frogfish, 8. Darkness - Brown Monster, 9. Temple of Evil - Devil of the Dark. You could begin play on any of the first four levels. There was an error on the cabinet of the coin-op machine switching levels 4 and 5.
Honorable Mentions
  • Berzerk
  • Gradius
  • Frogger
  • Asteroids
  • Space Invaders
  • Pac-Man
  • Vanguard
  • Zaxxon
  • Journey Escape
  • Defender
  • Rastan
  • Black Tiger
  • Rolling Thunder
  • Centipede
  • Galaxian
  • Kangaroo
  • Warp Warp
  • Space Zap
  • Rip Off
  • Ghosts 'N Goblins
  • Qix
  • Elevator Action
  • Kung Fu Master

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