Even More Favorite Classic Arcade Games
If you’ve been following my website, you probably caught an article from March 6th called “My Favorite Classic Arcade Games.” As the title explicitly states, this was a list of, well, my favorite classic arcade games. Though this is a fine and dandy list in and of itself, my 60-in-1 Multicade brought to my attention many new titles that I now really enjoy. As such (after addressing how awesome Demolish Fist was, of course), I felt the need to post about it! You’ll recognize many of these titles from a recent Instagram post of mine, in which I detailed many of the killer games I discovered through the Multicade. Here, though, you’ll get a much more detailed look at said games. Anyway, without further ado, here’s a list of more of my favorite classic arcade games!
Another brief note: There are a lot of awesome arcade games out there that I simply haven’t had an opportunity to try yet. For instance, there’s X-Men, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and many more. However, since many of these are games from the 1990s, I think I’ll wait to address them in a different article. (Favorite games from the 90’s, perhaps?) Hopefully, I’ll get to go to the Game Galaxy Arcade at some point, and then, I’ll finally be able to play some of the legendary games that I’ve been missing out on.
Well, that wasn’t brief at all. Golly.
Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Release Date: 1981
Pros: Heh, you’re gonna laugh when I say this, but…well, I had never played Donkey Kong until I got the Multicade. Nope, never. I hadn’t played it once. Ain’t that just the gosh darnedest thing? Arcade fanatic number one over here hadn’t played a bit of Donkey Kong! But hey, like I said, there are a lot of fantastic games that simply haven’t entered my life yet. But this is the pros section, and it’s on this list, so I clearly loved me some Donkey Kong! I can definitely see why this game is a respected classic. The game reflects gaming in its purest form: easy to learn, hard to master. (Didn’t Nolan Bushnell say that?) While the controls are limited to a jump button and a two-way joystick, the game can provide players with enough challenge to keep them (especially me) coming back. And it’s not that the game is ridiculously hard—in fact, the difficulty has a very nice curve—it’s just that everything is entirely skill-based in every way. If you mess up, it’s because you messed up. I like that quality in a video game, and Donkey Kong sure delivers. Jump, run, and climb!
Cons: I can’t really think of any cons. I’m not sure why I even include cons. Maybe it makes me look unbiased or something.
Donkey Kong 3
Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Release Date: 1983
Pros: Oh goodness, which Donkey Kong title do I prefer? That is one heckuva choice right there. If you want fast-paced, hectic shooting action, then Donkey Kong 3 is the choice for you. Because of this, I might just like it a little, tiny bit better. But like I said, that is quite the tough decision. For whatever reason (perhaps for the sake of originality), the three DK games are all drastically different in terms of gameplay. Though that may be true, the third entry, to me, still feels like a Donkey Kong game, and I absolutely love it. It’s actually extremely frenetic, with bees flying down at you trying to steal your turnips (or whatever those things are) while you push Donkey Kong up to the beehives with bug spray. It’s a bizarre concept, but it works great in practice. Gameplay-wise, I suppose you could liken it to any other 80’s arcade shooter. However, in my opinion, the presentation makes this game stand out. If I should leave you with one statement of my opinion, let it be that I absolutely love the sheer speed of the gameplay—it’s awesome.
Cons: Eh, I don’t really have any complaints. It’s just plain fun, ya know?
Publisher: Romstar (North America)
Release Date: 1985
Pros: Hoo boy, let me tell ya about this game right here! If there’s ever been a game that taught me patience—and I mean REALLY taught me patience—it’s Gun.Smoke. Most of the classics I’ve played up to this point aren’t really “Nintendo Hard” as the saying goes, but this game sure did a number on me. Unlike many of my favorite games, this title isn’t very gradual with the difficulty. Once I learned how to play it, however, I in turn learned that this game is fantastic. As previously mentioned, I love gameplay that rushes at break-neck speed. Gun.Smoke does just that, as moving just a fraction of a section later than you should leads to instant death at the figurative hands of a bullet. Of course, I’ve come to love this. If I must compare this to anything, it’s a shoot-em-up that almost feels like Smash TV (sort of…in a way). Unlike Smash TV, however, there aren’t continues, so I was truly taught the benefits of patience and skill. With no continues, progressing farther in the game requires you to, well, “git gud.” The gameplay in Gun.Smoke is truly addicting, challenging, and rewarding, and it’s a fantastic 1985 entry in the decades-old shoot-em-up genre.
Cons: Rather than a complaint, I have an observation that was initially a complaint before I learned the game fully. When I first played Gun.Smoke, I thought the choice to use three buttons for aiming and shooting was a bit odd. Why didn’t Capcom set it up as a twin-stick shooter? (Then again, that’s pretty much just a Eugene Jarvis thing.) However, the three-button layout proves to be quite a good fit for this game. It’s a scrolling shoot-em-up, so there isn’t using much of a reason to shoot behind your character anyway (unless you miss enemies and they start shooting from your rear). It could have been a twin-stick shooter, but I suppose it’s fine. I like it the way it is! Also, if I must add a true complaint, it’s that maybe the game is…too challenging. Wait a minute—that’s crazy talk! The difficulty is what makes it fun and addictive!
Publisher: Gottlieb (North America)
Release Date: 1983
Pros: By now, it’s probably become clear to many of you that I love 80’s space shooters, or just shooters in general! Even so, Juno First provided me with space shooting fun beyond what I had gotten from even Galaga. (Can you believe it?!) The range of movement and the wave level progression made for a fun, captivating game. The difficulty curve is steady, but it clearly cranks it up a notch by Wave 4. Juno First is actually quite similar to Defender, but it plays on a more three-dimensional landscape. If you like arcade space shooters but want a bit more freedom of movement, I highly recommend this game. Juno First is also quite fun for high score chasing!
Cons: I don’t really have any complaints for any of these games!
Release Date: 1983
Pros: Ah yes, another arcade space shooter. In all honesty, it’s getting hard to find more ways to praise these kinds of games. However, Gyruss does differentiate itself in that (rather than offering only movement to the left or right, or even offering a full range of movement) it allows you to move in a full circle (but only a circle) around the screen. This proves to be rather fun, as the enemies come up from the center in all directions, and you must circle around the screen to take them out. And like many space shooters, the difficulty curve is just right. Yep, I’m out of stuff to say.
Cons: Who cares, it’s a great game. Every game on this list is awesome. The shooters are especially awesome. Let’s go on.
Release Date: 1980
Pros: If you follow my Instagram page, you’ll know that I first encountered Centipede through an Atari 2600 plug-and-play game compilation produced by Jakks-Pacific. Though the arcade version and Atari 2600 port are nearly identical in terms of gameplay, I prefer the arcade version—as always. (The vertical display makes it more fun. Call me biased. Oh wait, I am biased.) Centipede is yet another fixed shooter. It doesn’t have a space theme, however, and it sets itself apart through fast gameplay and somewhat unpredictable occurrences based on where and when you shoot a part of the eponymous centipede. Gameplay can get really hectic really fast, and as always, that’s something I enjoy in arcade games. In short: I really like this game. It isn’t one of those games that I rant and rave about, though. It’s just a game that I happen to like quite a bit. That’s cool, right?
Cons: Nah, it’s pretty chill. (Pardon the cringe-inducing colloquialism.)
Release Date: 1985
Pros: Back when I shared these games on Instagram, I totally forgot about Shao-Lin’s road. It’s one of those earlier, somewhat less complex beat-em-ups from the mid-80’s, and it sure is fun. At first, I was pretty terrible at this game. After all, there’s no continues. Surely I can’t survive without continues! But of course, I “mastered” the game and got slightly better. Boy howdy, this Multicade sure has made me better at video games! In all seriousness, though, it’s a fairly fast and action-packed (yet very simple) beat-em-up that you’ll be sure to enjoy if you want a break from something more intensive (cough, Demolish Fist). The visuals are just as fun as the gameplay, and I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of your character saying “GUTS!” when you complete a screen, just like I did. Also, the music isn’t too shabby, if I do say so myself.
Cons: Though it can most certainly be mastered (and it’s really not that difficult), continues would have been nice. Of course, continues weren’t always a mainstay of arcade games, so it’s easily forgiven. Besides, I like having to master games! GUTS!
Release Date: 1984
Pros: Fun gameplay, visuals, and music are what make Bomb Jack so addicting. It isn't too terribly difficult at all, but it's so darn enjoyable. Of course, I've never been able to get past Stage 5. (After all, I'm not the best at video games. My skill is Gun.Smoke is kind of a fluke.) I can sort of compare the gameplay to a free-roaming Pac-Man, or a collectathon of sorts. You're supposed to collect every bomb in the stage, and there are enemies following you. However, unlike Pac-Man, you aren't restricted by a maze. It is most certainly it's own game, though. The jumping and gliding mechanic is expertly executed (alliteration, people). And like I said, the colorful graphics and fun sound are a fantastic bonus to an already great game.
Cons: Hey, it's a fun little game. There's no need for cons. I think I only added the cons section for Gauntlet anyway.
Release Date: 1983
Pros: You thought I was done with super mainstream Namco games, didn't ya? Well, not this time. The only reason Mappy is on this list is because I totally forgot to put it on the original "Favorite Classic Arcade Games" list. Anyway, I really like Mappy. Also, I forgot just how much I liked it until I got a chance to play it with arcade controls and a vertical monitor on the Multicade. First of all, let's address how awesome the Mappy music is. Second of all—it's just a darn fun game! In a way, it's just another 80's maze game. However, Mappy differntiates itself by feeling like a more of platformer and providing more unique ways to increase your score. Compared to Pac-Man, it's also slightly less difficult. (I guess it depends.) And heck, that premise differentiates the game a bit, too. Gosh darned cat police chasing gosh darned mice.
Cons: This list the last time I'll be so redundant, I promise.
And that concludes another list! I suppose this list is quite smaller, but hey, I don’t get to play a crud-load of classic games every day! And yes, the lists with my favorite games from the 90’s and 2000’s will come at some point—we just have to wait. So yeah, I guess that’s it! By the way, Arcade and Retro Gaming Club is still doing really well. We have eight or nine people each week, and it’s a lot of fun. Fighting games still dominate in popularity, but I’m bringing Midway Arcade Treasures at our next meeting to play on the second TV (which is used for those of us not playing fighting games). Also, I’m going to get back into Twitter. I’ve cleaned up my posts, and I’m going to post my first poll in long time today.
Well, I guess that’s it! Keep it real, ya sweaty nerds. Keep playing arcade games and whatnot.
But wait, there's more! Today is the day Skycurser preorders open up! I'll probably have a blog post about it next week. For now, here's a screenshot of the greatest news I have ever gotten in my entire life:
Okay, now you can go.