Before the iPhone, before the PS3, and before the Xbox, there was a wholesome place to spend your whole Saturday indoors, and rip through all your Dad’s change: the local arcade. Here are the Top 5 Arcade Games that made me the Jolly Gamesman I am today.
5. X-Men: The Arcade Game (1992)
The 6 player version was always my favourite, as it featured two screens and a complete roster of playable characters. At my local arcade, there was always a scramble to be Wolverine, and a quarter sitting atop the screen signified that someone “got next” after that current player had expired.
Why Dazzler was included was beyond me.
I once had the opportunity to own a complete and working version of the full 6 player two screen version for a cool $800. Only the fact that the beast had to be split into many pieces, and then lugged up three flights of stairs to my den, kept me from this purchase.
Fun Fact: This is the first arcade game I have ever played until completion.
4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989)
Even as a child I was always disappointed with the TMNT TV show. Watching the majority of the lead’s pointy and slashy weapons censored for the viewing audience was always a let down. Not so the arcade game.
In the same vein as the X-Men Arcade game, button mashing was the prominent play mechanic to the game, but if you became a pro like I did, you knew the jump kick was the best attack against The Foot Clan.
Fun Fact: The local arcade rumour was if you did a specific button combination during the opening cinema (when the Terror-Dome appeared), and then inserted a specific amount of tokens, you could play a Dimension-X level. Many many quarters later, I discovered that rumour was false.
3. Lethal Enforcers (1992)
“Player One,” boomed out of the tinny speakers mounted above the cabinet.
A three-frames-per-second montage briefed you of a hostage situation.
To be even more badass, you’d pop in an additional two tokens and go apes*&% on those cardboard cutout threats to human life.
Glass shattered, tires got blown out, you shot missiles out of the air with 9mm rounds, and you blew the hell out of the end Boss during the car chase.
As the smoke cleared, and all was said and done, a sobering moment occurred when you looked down and realized that you did all this with baby blue and pink side arms.
Fun Fact: The sequel traveled the player back in time into the Wild Wild West.
2. Mortal Kombat (1992)
There once was a time when the video game magazine EGM posted the complete move sets for Mortal Kombat II, and I admit I spent weeks memorizing it. To this day, I still remember how to do a few select finishing moves (forward, forward, down, forward, punch, head rip).
My love affair with video games spelled incorrectly started at a small corner store in my home town. Every town had one. The girly mags were only a white plastic insert away from the latest Bat Boy sightings, the pay phone outside was out of order, and the shopkeeper would sell smokes to any 14-year-old who “left their ID in the car.”
Nestled in the back, between the broken ice cream bar display and empty yellow milk carton containers, was the eventual home to all my pocket change.
My strongest memory of this title was some local kid, the so-called King of the Cabinet, would come by now and then, to rub shoulders with the little people. Since he knew all the fatalities, we actually paid the quarters to watch him kill everyone in the tournament.
Fun Fact: To this day the debate still remains if the violence of the Genesis version trumps the graphics of the SNES version.
1. T2: Judgement Day Arcade Game (1991)
Quite possibly the staple of all arcades, T2: The Arcade Game holds the closest place in my heart. Countless quarters were sacrificed to the Arcade gods over the years at my local arcade, but as fate would have it, it all came back full circle.
During the waning days of the arcade, I decided to pop in and see what new cabinets were available to try out. To my dismay, a ‘Going out of Business’ sign met me at the front door.
$500 later, I was the proud owner of my childhood piggy bank.
Getting it home was no big deal, as the creepy arcade owner had a van, and was happy to deliver to my residence. Getting it up the thirteen stairs was the trick. Two friends and a blanket later, the machine was planted where it would stand for the next few years, only to be removed from the house once I started charging my mom to play.
I later sold it for $300, after accumulating $200 in quarters at the video game store it ended up calling home.
Fun Fact: The key to unlock the coin holster on one T2 unit opens every T2 unit.