Though I was born in 1978, I have in the past or present been fortunate enough to play all of these games frequently in the arcade.

10. Rolling Thunder

    This may be a somewhat surprising choice, but I'll let Next-Generation magazine speak for me:

    "Everything gels together perfectly: the long-legged characters, the wonderfully designed levels, the use of panthers as enemies, your character's ability to duck behind boxes, the constant need to jump from the floor to raised platforms, and some great, great, music."

    My sentiments exactly.

9. S.T.U.N. Runner
(Atari Games)
    Every top 10 list needs a driving game, and this is my all time favorite driving game. There's nothing quite like traveling 600+ mph down a maze of tunnels with enemies on all sides and a timer counting down on you. STUN Runner is bobsledding on steroids.
8. Robotron: 2084
    One of those rare games where everything comes together. The play control may be the best in arcade history. The intensity, difficulty, concept, and fun factor are all grade A. What more need be said? The game just rocks. Of course, the ideas of running around blasting robots and being about 2 seconds from dying at all times probably owe something to Berzerk. But Eugene Jarvis took the nucleus of an awesome game and made something very different, and equally fun.
7. Double Dragon
    A classic that missed the classic era. Double Dragon came out about the time I was old enough to be allowed to bike to the local pizza parlor to play video games. It was (along with Shinobi) the first arcade game I spent lots of money on. Unlike Shinobi, I kept coming back after I beat it. I loved the characters, the animation, the soundtrack, and all the cool moves you could do. I also liked the fact that characters appeared in the same places every time, it was like meeting old friends after a while. It's slipped a bit on my list because I haven't played in 6 years (the pizza parlor replaced it with Street Fighter II), but it will always be in my top 10, for nostalgia alone if nothing else.
6. Assault
    I consider this 1988 Battlezone update the last "classic" ever released. I didn't play much when it came out, but when I got to college last year, there was one on campus. Now I can't get enough. One of those games that has to be played in the arcade, you just can't emulate tank controls. Superb graphics and play control, and loads of fun. My only gripe is the uneven difficulty; some stages are too easy, and some are impossible.
5. Elevator Action
    I really can't say what it is about EA that keeps me coming back. My brain keeps telling me I should scoff at the crude graphics, the weakest play control in my top 10 (though still not bad), or the simplistic plot. And yet, I love this game. There's just something so cool about hopping elevators, shooting criminals, and collecting secret documents in a 30 story building. It's so much fun, that somehow the rest doesn't seem important. This one is the exception to my "frequently played" comment. I played this once when I was six, and never saw it again until late in 1997. But the fact that even 13 years later I still remembered the one game of EA I played is a testament to how cool this game is..
4. Reactor
    It's a shame that so few people got to play Reactor in the arcade, as it is really the only way to play it. Don't get me wrong, the VCS port was awesome, my favorite cartridge. But there's nothing like the feel of the trackball in your hand and the pulsing (and loud!) rhythms of the most rockin' music in arcade history in your ears. It's not just a game, it's an experience.
3. Street Fighter II (Regular and Champion Ed.)
    Love it or hate it, one of the biggest games ever. And I loved it! I don't know how many weeks in a row back in 1991 I blew my entire allowance on SFII at the pizza parlor. The game simply looks and feels right; at the time, there was nothing else like it. Terrific play control (again), the special moves are much more instinctive than in Mortal Kombat. (which I despise!) I got pretty good at the original, but I was untouchable on Champion Edition. When I picked Vega, you lost. End of story.
(tie) 2. Discs of Tron
    The only version I've ever played is the regular upright. Had I played the environmental, I may well have had to rank DOT #1. Another game with nearly flawless play control, a unique concept, and terrific replay value.
1. Berzerk
    This was and is my game. The game I had to buy first when I was starting my own collection. Stratovox may have had speech first, but Berzerk is the first talker most people actually saw. The play control and difficulty are top notch; like Robotron, you must become one with the controls if you have any hope of long term survival. Even so, the sound bites are what set Berzerk apart. "Shoot the intruder!" "Chicken, fight like a robot!" etc. Berzerk to me is the quintessential arcade game.
My Honorable Mention List

  • APB
  • Championship Sprint
  • Gunsmoke
  • Karate Champ
  • Moon Patrol
  • Shinobi
  • Spy Hunter
  • Star Wars
  • Zaxxon

  • Go to previous page