KRISTIAN TANNER'S TOP TEN COIN-OP VIDEOGAMES|
10. Dragon's Lair
Dragon's Lair was the first laser disc game. I couldn't
believe my eyes when I first time saw it. It looked really
exceptional and new at the time. And when it came to graphics,
Dragon's Lair was (technically) the biggest leap in the history
of arcade games, and videogames overall. The modern computer
machines practically STILL use the same techniques, and Dragon's
Lair is 14-15 years old!
9. Track and Field / Hyper Olympics
Dragon's Lair wasn't very good game. To be honest, its gameplay
was very poor, although Cinematronics/Starcom improved it for
Space Ace somewhat. But like I said, it was technically a true
forerunner, and deserves a mention in this list.
I remember when I first saw this game. "What a great and
fresh idea!", I thought. I was in the high school at the time,
and all my classmates went completely nuts with T&F. You know,
the main purpose of the game was to hit the run buttons as fast
as you can, to achieve better time in 100M dash, and better
running speed in long jump, javelin etc. During the schooldays,
the whole class would practice their "running" in the classroom,
hitting their fingers against the desk lid. The game was very
popular, until two little kids came to the arcade with an
electric toothbrush. No, I'm not kidding: These kids put the
electric toothbrush over the run button, and voila': The 100M
dash record was suddenly something like 6.5 seconds. Imagine our
frustration and anger, after we played the game for MONTHS, and
suddenly two pimple-faced kiddies come with an electric
toothbrush, and put all our records in data heaven. Man, THAT was
But anyway, the game is still a lot of fun, and fortunately the
MAME authors have been wise enough to include the "run like hell"
cheat into their version. Otherwise I should buy new keyboard
every week. :-) Hyper Sports, Track & Field's sequel, is also
very good, but somehow it didn't impress me THAT much anymore.
Tempest is still (A.D. 1998) one of the most addictive games
I know. The gameplay is perfect, it's very well programmed, fast
and... DIFFICULT: Especially after 200.000 points. (I still
haven't completed the yellow levels.) Good 'ole Jeff Minter's
Tempest 2000 for PC and Jaguar was very good, but somehow it
doesn't have the "real" feeling in it.
Defender was very good at its prime, but Stargate was much,
much better. Somehow, it never become a big hit like its
predecessor. Maybe it was a bit too difficult, who knows. It's
STILL one of the most difficult games I know. And when you're
bored with all the new 3D shoot-em-ups, it's always refreshing to
play the real thing. You know what I mean: There's nothing wrong
with Guns and Roses, but The Who destroyed their
guitars and hotel rooms first. :-)
6. Pole Position
The one and the only driving machine to me. Now that we have
3D graphics cards, Pole Position might not look very special, but
the gameplay was unique. In the sequel, Pole Position II,
"Suzuka" was my favorite track. Man, it was so difficult... :-)
5. Space Duel
For some reason, this great game hasn't been emulated yet. But
Micro$oft has a good version of it in its "Return of Arcade"
pack. (The only good program Micro$hit has ever put out, no
To me, the first impression of this game was "Great, now we
have Asteroids in color". But there's more to Space Duel than
meets the eye: Space Duel is incredibly addictive game, with one
of the best two-player modes around. After two or three beers
the game (with a competent opponent) is the best fun I know.
4. Baby Pac-Man
This was a strange game. A combination of pinball and video
game. The main purpose of the pinball table was to collect
energy pills and tunnel speed for the video game mode. For some
reason, a some of the biggest Pac-Man fanatics hated this game,
maybe because they sucked so badly in the pinball table. But the
rest of us LOVED it.
I'm really sorry that the pinball table is impossible to emulate.
Well, of course nothing is impossible. That's why I've had
daydreams of Namco Museum with Baby Pac-Man, where the pinball
table was programmed by the designers of the best computer
pinball game I know: Pro Pinball: The Timeshock. Yes, and
after that I want to see the Beatles playing together again. Am
I asking too much? :-)
Back in my high school days 15-16 years ago, this game was a
very expensive hobby to me. It was difficult, addictive, and
there was always something new lurking around the corner. When
we got to the second mothership for the first time, we really
thought that we were about to complete the game "very soon".
2. Star Wars
It took me TEN years to complete Xevious. To be honest, I did it
just recently, when the MAME version came out. I set the
difficulty to easy, and used 6 ships, because with the original
settings it was simply too hard. Well, for me, at least... :-)
The atmosphere of this game is still incredible. I remember the
first time when I managed to play to the "second sea", and then
to the third and fourth mothership. The "finale" of this game is
the most difficult I've ever seen. Two big motherships come in a
row, shoot at you with those nasty red "exploding balls", and
after you survive from that, there comes a big "exploding bomb".
And if you don't manage to complete these three (almost
impossible) parts with _one_ ship, the game throws you back in
the beginning of "finale" again. The most popular game among my
veteran player friends.
This game blew my mind! It was so incredible, and when I saw
it for the first time, I immediately changed 500 Finnish marks to
coins. I just HAD to play this game. I was on my way to a
philosophy exam, but unfortunately my local arcade hall had this
brand new Star Wars flying machine.
"Fuck the exam", I thought. And that's how my life's longest
love affair began. Incredible colorful vector graphics,
digitized speech from the movie, and the most beautiful cabinet
I've ever seen. It had ann exceptional "steering" controller,
and the gameplay couldn't have been any better. It was all
there. It was a true masterpiece, and even today, after I've
played Rebel Assault 2 and Tie Fighter vs X-Wing with my brand
new Pentium 200 computer, I miss the atmosphere and feeling from
this original thing. There can only be one.
Well, this is MY game. The number one. It was a tough
decision between Star Wars and Gravitar, but I chose Gravitar.
Why? Because it's simply the best damn game in the world.
Atari's original advertisement "Play Gravitar - the player's
game", says it all. For some reason, Gravitar never got the
respect it deserves, and it never became as popular as Asteroids
or Star Wars, because it's way too difficult to be a hit, and
requires too much skill and concentration from an average
gameplayer. Back when it was released, it didn't get reviewed
very well in the arcade game magazines either. It's not just a
"mindless" shoot-em up game, like Asteroids and Tempest (don't
get me wrong, both are GREAT games), but it requires strategy and
patience, and a LOT of skill.
Other games that deserve mention
I've met dozens of people in the Net who love this game more than
anything. Most of them are professional game designers or
programmers. Could it be a coincidence? No. Gravitar is a game
for the real professionals. :-) To me, it's more like an
addiction nowadays. I still play it every now and then, after
all these years, just because I haven't yet completed its last
round with invisible landscape and reverse gravity. :-)
Pong (Atari), Space Invaders (Taito), Pac Man (Namco),
for historical reasons, and...
Empire Strikes Back (Atari)
Major Havoc (Atari)
Mr. Do's Castle (Universal)
Bomb Jack (Tehkan)
Asteroids & Asteroids Deluxe (Atari)
Marble Madness (Atari)
I, Robot (Atari)
Robotron: 2084 (Williams)
Indiana Jones (Atari)
Crystal Castles (Atari)
Missile Command (Atari)
Dig Dug (Atari/Namco)
Well, hope you liked this list, and my opinions. Any and all feedback