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!

    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.

9. Track and Field / Hyper Olympics
    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 doping! :-)

    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.

8. Tempest
    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.
7. Stargate
    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... :-)

    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 doubt.)

5. Space Duel
    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? :-)

3. Xevious
    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". ROTFL.

    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.

2. Star Wars
    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.

1. Gravitar
    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.

    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. :-)

Other games that deserve mention

Pong (Atari), Space Invaders (Taito), Pac Man (Namco), for historical reasons, and...

  • Empire Strikes Back (Atari)
  • Major Havoc (Atari)
  • Battlezone (Atari)
  • Choplifter (Konami?/Broderbund)
  • Mr. Do's Castle (Universal)
  • Bomb Jack (Tehkan)
  • Qix (Taito)
  • Asteroids & Asteroids Deluxe (Atari)
  • Marble Madness (Atari)
  • I, Robot (Atari)
  • Robotron: 2084 (Williams)
  • Indiana Jones (Atari)
  • Crystal Castles (Atari)
  • Zookeeper (Taito)
  • Missile Command (Atari)
  • Dig Dug (Atari/Namco)

    Well, hope you liked this list, and my opinions. Any and all feedback is welcome.

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