The Best Arcade Games by Type

There are literally hundreds not thousands of arcade games that have graced consoles, computers and stand-alone machines since the 70s. Everyone has a favourite, for me it’s Afterburner – and it has to be played inside an arcade not on console. I dare to think how many coins I slotted through this game in the 90s but it was a thrill ride and something I feel is lacking from today’s games.

I have decided to showcase some of the best ever arcade games and I’m not too strict on the rules either. They can be anything from the late 70s upwards. We all know the classics such as Pacman and Invaders but I have also tried to find cool games from later years of retro gaming.

I still play free games today, my real life hobby is train modelling so I really enjoy playing online train games on Mark’s website, It has a good selection and as I’m older; my hand to eye co-ordination is not as fast as when I was a teenager so it’s a good fit for me. Anyway, without further ado here is best list of arcade games.

Best Hack and Slash – Gauntlet, 1985.
I have no idea why there is not a decent update to this game. Some indy company released a really good Elite game recently that was showcased on the UK gaming expo at the NEC, imagine a new Gauntlet?

To summarise this was pure, brutal monster slaying and best played with friends in a group. The graphics were really basic but it was fast and furious where each member had to pick a class of character from a warrior, mage, elven archer and some beefed up armour dude who could take a right beating.

The game was played top-down, and the arcade version had space for four players each with its own colour co-ordinated console. Mobs would appear en-masse and based on an evil castle theme where zombies, skeleton and other critters get in the way. Freedom is earned by destroying generators and progressing to the next level.

Best Shoot ‘Em Up – Afterburner, 1997.
Many people thought that Afterburner game was based on the film Top Gun and you can see why. They both featured the same fighter plane, the F-14 Tomcat but in all honesty this is where the comparisons end as the game, trust me is about a million times better.

In Afterburner at the arcades you sit down in a cockpit and with a series of missions to complete, about 20 in all you are armed with missiles and machines guns which get replenished after a few missions. The game was not great on consoles – many leading gaming magazines only gave Afterburner about one star out of five but the arcade version was electric, fast and very difficult. Once the enemy had managed to “lock on” it was very difficult to out-manoeuvre incoming fire.

Best Platform Game – Donkey Kong, 1981.
Amazing to think that this game is over 35 years old and testament to creator Nintendo that we are still playing and talking about it today. If you are too young to experience Donkey Kong then the game is based on a character which must run up ramps and avoid all the objects that Donkey Kong throws at him.

The object is to rescue the Princess and the game gets harder fast. There are the usual power ups and extra lives that can be earned but make no mistake, this is one of the hardest arcade games ever devised and this is why it has become an iconic release.

If you have watched the recent movie called “Pixels” then you would have seen plenty of Donkey Kong action. In later years, Kong was ported to portable gaming systems such as the Game & Watch.

Best Beat ‘Em Up – Street Fighter, 1987.
I have added the original Street Fighter to this top list. Why? Because this is the game that influenced the whole series that is still alive today and also a whole host of beat em ups that are popular on consoles such as Xbox and PlayStation.

The original game was devised by Nishiyama and Matsumoto, Japanese gaming legends who might have based SF on Bruce Lee. The game itself features our hero who completes in fighting tournaments across the world. Another player can join in at any time and this is when it becomes real fun to play.