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The Top 5 Arcade Games of My Youth

Written by: Big Ross, CC2K Staff Writer


ImageFellow CC2ker Russell Davidson recently wrote about some of the games throughout his life that have deeply affected him.  One was the arcade game Robotron 2084, and hearing him talk about it, well it got me thinking about all the hours I spent in arcades when I was younger.  This was back in the 80’s and early 90’s – when arcades were still somewhat profitable.  Now they are an endangered species facing the brink of extinction.  I figure, why not mark their passing with a list of my personal favorites?  Did you remember to bring your quarters?  Alright, here we go!

 

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#5 – Jurassic Park Pinball

I was never a huge fan of pinball machines, but I’d play one every now and then, and the Jurassic Park pinball machine stands out as my favorite of all time.  Maybe it was the electronic display on the upright portion and the mini-games you could trigger by directing your pinball to the appropriate locations.  Maybe it was just the after-effects of getting blown away by Spielberg’s sensational movie about dinosaurs.  I don’t know.  Maybe it was just that, as far as pinball machines go, this one was pretty damn fun.

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#4 – Space Harrier

I got introduced to this game on the first of many family trips to Colorado.  My parents loved to go to this old mining town that had a bit of new life breathed into it by a bunch of casinos that located there.  My brother and I were too young to gamble, so we spent all of our time in the few arcades around town.  In one of them was Space Harrier.  I had never seen it before, and decided to give it a try.  Something about the game, the music, the way the chair moved in response to your manipulations of the joystick, the 3-D graphics, it all came together in some kind of magical combination in that podunk mountain town and I was hooked.  I never found this game anywhere else, and in subsequent years this was the first I’d drop a quarter into, and I always made sure before we left my name was sitting near the top of the high scores list.  The year I discovered the arcade had gotten rid of it was a sad occasion indeed.

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#3 – Mortal Kombat

Throughout the history of video games, there are a handful of truly seminal games.  Games that have had effects on the industry long after their release.  Super Mario Bros. is one of them.  Doom is another.  Halo: Combat Evolved probably deserves to be on that list as well as World of Warcraft and others.  Mortal Kombat certainly deserves to be in their company.  At a time when the internet was still in its infancy, word of this game still managed to spread like wildfire.  Mortal Kombat was in every arcade around, and in the months after its release there was an almost perpetual cloud of teenage boys hanging about it.  The over-the-top violence, exemplified best by the Fatality, generated harsh criticism and glowing praise alike.  I usually chose Sub-Zero, because he was one of the few characters whose Fatality I had managed to somewhat master.  Finish Him!

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#2 – Galaga

Ah, Galaga.  A game that to this day instills a compulsion in me to check my pockets for a quarter if I encounter it in a bar or restaurant.  A game that was ridiculously simple in design – a single joystick that only moved horizontally and a single button to fire lasers – yet offered a challenge I couldn’t (and can’t) refuse.  A game, like Robotron, that never really ended, that didn’t actually have a way to win.  You simply put in your quarter, and you saw how far you could make it, how long you could survive.  Another game that I had to ensure listed my name near the top of the high score holders.  A game that I downloaded a port of from Xbox Live and played for hours, though admittedly isn’t as fun as the original arcade experience.  A true classic.

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#1 – Star Wars

Before I go any farther, let me make one thing clear.  We are talking about the sit-down/cockpit version of this game.  I know there were stand-up versions, and they may have been more ubiquitous, but they’re not the same.  The cockpit version of the original Star Wars arcade game with the wire-frame graphics and authentic music and voice effects from Alec Guinness with the speakers positioned right behind your head is the all-time best fucking arcade game ever.  Ever.  Oh, you’d like a reason why?  Ok.  Happy to oblige.  Why do you think George Lucas made so much money from Star Wars action figures and playsets and toy blasters and light sabers?  Because every kid that saw A New Hope, whether at the theater or at home on television, each and every one of them wanted to experience it.  They wanted to live it.  And for my money in the years following the Star Wars films this arcade game was the closest a kid could get to living the dream.  And this is where the cockpit version of the game becomes oh so important.  Because there, sitting down and imagining yourself in the cockpit of an X-Wing fighter with the theme music blaring in your ears and Alec fucking-Obi-Wan-himself Guinness telling you to use the Force, shit there was just nothing like it.  Best.  Arcade. Game. Ever.

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I’m sure we’ve got some members of Generations X & Y – people who actually went to arcades when they were younger – in the audience.  Head over to the forums to discuss your old favorites!

Author: Big Ross, CC2K Staff Writer

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