The Dorklyst: The 15 Greatest Arcade Games of the 90's

November 10, 2010

5. Star Wars Trilogy Arcade

There've been so many Star Wars games, it's not really a surprise that pretty much everything in this game has been done somewhere else – but what made this special was that it did a lot of things first. You got to fight in all of the big battles from the original trilogy with incredible, mind-blistering graphics (especially for 1998). Sure, it cost an entire dollar per life, but it came out right after the awful Special Editions were being re-released in theaters, and was the perfect remedy to shoddy CGI-Jabba and Han being the slowest draw in the west. And the final stage was a lightsaber battle with Darth Vader – who didn't turn into a Hayden Christiansen ghost after you beat him. Those were simpler times.


4. Street Fighter II: The World Warrior

Street Fighter II was a lot of things: a worldwide travelogue, a "what happens when you park your car in the bad part of town" simulator, a misleading reason to take karate classes when you were 8 – but most of all, it was one of the greatest fighting games of all-time. One that introduced features a lot of us take for granted these days: playing as multiple characters, a combo system, and saying any fighting game that followed wasn't as good as Street Fighter II. Still, it would have been an even better game if your karate instructor had just taught you how to do a real life Hadouken like you had hoped.


3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time

The all-time king of beat-em-ups and thankfully totally devoid of electric seaweed – Turtles in Time took everything that was great about the original arcade game and made it 10x greater with the ability to throw enemies at each other and the screen. Also: time travel, but without the universe-shattering paradoxes. Not that the game was without its problems. How many friendships were destroyed over someone with full health taking a pizza when I was on the verge of death? Huh, Eric? Now you're dead to me, and no amount of pizzas can bring you back in my mind.


2. X-Men

If you were a kid in the 90's, odds are you wished you could be one of the X-Men. Weird that so many children want to be a part of a group in the midst of a civil rights struggle, constantly being attacked by crazed supervillains, and living in the same house as a guy who knows exactly what you've been masturbating to at all times, but it was all worth those sweet superpowers, right? The X-Men arcade game was the closest any of us ever got – but it was enough. You could play as any of six mutants, fight all of your favorite non-Dark Phoenix bad guys, and even Dazzler's power looked pretty cool on the arcade screen.


1. The Simpsons: The Arcade Game

As anyone on internet comment boards will tell you, the Simpsons have done pretty much everything. But even for one of the greatest comedies ever, I don't think a whole lot of people expected a game that pitted a cartoon family against hordes of hired goons would turn out as fun as it did (speaking of, someone get on a King of the Hill game NOW). And even though it ate up quarters faster than Barney, the co-op combo system and frequent nods to the series made up for robbing us all blind.

Too bad it got so crappy by level 10.

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