There was a time, back in the early 80’s when arcades were the place to be on a Friday night. When you walked in the door all you could hear was the blips and beeps of Pac Man and Donkey Kong. Crowds gathered, and gamer legends were born. Sadly, I was born a little too late for the arcade mania that was the genesis of modern day gaming. Now thirty years later it is a billion dollar industry and one of the more important forms of entertainment many of us can’t live without. By the time I was tall enough to reach the arcade controller there was already two inches of dust on it and people would rather play Atari and Nintendo then go down to the local arcade and play away their allowance money. Then, just as we stopped arguing about what was better Sega or Nintendo, something happened. The Arcade lights went back on and it was time to pop those quarters in the slots again. These are the Top 5 games that stole every kid’s hard earned paper route money back in the mid 90’s. Why not 10? Oh there’s 10, but I thought 5 to be a more fitting number since that is how many rolls of quarters these games took from me and my friends every time we went to the arcade!
Sure, Gauntlet was an 80’s staple that even made it’s way to the Nes and The Xbox live arcade. In the 90’s as it sat quietly in the corner wedged between Millipede, and the broken Defender machine it just begged to be played. It said, “Hey, I’m not that hard just give me a try you won’t regret it.” The first few levels were a joke. No problem. That was just to get you sucked in. Then the insanity ensues. By the time the smoke clears you realize you’re out of money. Gauntlet was the game that gave us 90’s gamers the feeling the 80’s guys had playing Pac Man and Donkey Kong. It’s that addictive haze you end up in just wanting to get to the next level. The joke is Gauntlet has way too many levels to even imagine beating with the little money you walk in with.
4.) The Star Wars Trilogy
The Star Wars Trilogy Game hit the market a little late. It game out just as the the 90’s arcade boom was coming to an end and about the time the Playstation was dropping in price so you could own one and not just your one rich friend that you only hung out with because he had a Playstation. If you missed out on this one than shame on you because it is one of the best Star Wars games that has ever been made. You play all the fun stuff from the movies and once you start playing you end up feeling like you owe it to yourself to beat it and that will cost you all your money! The Force was very very strong with this one even if you pocket money wasn’t!
3.) Street Fighter 2
Street Fighter 2 is the pinnacle of fighting games. This game is a godfather that spawned a whole race of quarter eaters. Mortal Kombat, Tekken, Killer Instinct, Primal Rage all owe a little something to Street Fighter 2. The thing about fighting games were that they ate all your quarters until you were good enough to beat it with fifty cents. I guess that really can be said about all arcade games but, what kept you coming back for more with Street Fighter 2 was getting good enough to beat that kid (with black peach fuzz he called a moustache) down at the local pizza place. It was worth all your pocket money to make him cry. Before we had internet deathmatches we had fighting games to Pwn people! Or to get pwned if you were that kid with a little dirt on his upper lip.
2.) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Ahhhhh the arcade brawler. Pretty much they were all the same game that just had different characters depending on what brawler you were playing. Four player Ninja Turtles was the engine and our quarters were the fuel. All the game really is would be getting from point A to Point B. The only way to get to point B was with the right amount of fuel and in this case it was a shit ton of quarters. Impossibly hard even with four people but, god I love being a Turtle! Okay, yeah an argument can be made that the Xmen game is superior but, face it they’re all the same! I like Ninja Turtles you like Xmen TOE MATO, TOM ATO!
1.) T2: Judgement Day
So, we gone through all. The old skool 80’s, fighters, brawlers, and Star Wars! What’s left? Shooters! 1991 was the year of the Terminator and without question if you were a preteen kid walking into an arcade you were instantly attracted to the T2 arcade game. If you weren’t, well you were probably on the kiddy side playing ski ball while us men were killing robot scum! The rumble of the machine gun, hundreds of robots coming for you, oh shit the T1000! I defy you to even get to the T1000 on any less than fourty dollars in quarters let alone beat him! Was it worth it spending a fifty on this game? You’re goddamn right it was! You know what? I’ll do it again next week too because that is just how I roll!
Arcade games by definition are designed to eat your money. By the late 90’s arcade machines needed to be as addicting as they were impossible to beat. Sadly, for them it ended up that playing these games at home turned out to be way more fun!
Golden Tee, Mortal Kombat 3, Time Crisis 2, NBA Jam