Arcade games that impressed you as a kid

Stealing this idea from @naughtysecrets on Twitter

Some that came to mind for me:

  • - Lucky & Wild. Two player lightgun shooter where player 1 is also driving a car!!!
  • - Top Skater - it was so huge at our local arcade they had to put it partially outside
  • - Holoseum or Time Traveller - impressive to look at for sure. The $1 price kept me away...
  • - Indy 500 - 8 player giant F1 racing setup. Only played it once at Sega City @ Playdium (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada)
  • Virtual On, most of the light gun shooters but definitely Area 51 which was the first I remember seeing, Star Wars Trilogy, Marvel vs. Capcom.

    Mostly anything with a giant cabinet, flashing lights, or some peripheral that you didn't see with home consoles.

    I found the moving After Burner arcade game absolutely thrilling.

    On a vacation with my dad I tried the R360 version of G-Loc that could take you upside-down in matching the action on the screen. That blew my mind.[upl-image-preview url=//]

    SF Rush, both the original and 2049. Probably the closest thing to a sim racer I got to experience that young. What really made it was the engine noises that were piped through the speakers and the sensation of flying through the air. That game had a lot of jumps. Another thing I really liked: The hardest car to drive was in a cage and the game would sound klaxons if you tried to select it.

    I will second Top Skater as I saw it before Tony Hawk and was hooked by the spectacle. But the other big one is the TMNT arcade game. For a certain generation it was the first, “the sprites look just like a cartoon” game.

    Most arcade games were impressive in a comfortable, predictable way as I grew with arcades being universally perceived as the most technically advanced technological scene for video games back then. But Dural doing T-1000 shit in real time in front of my eyes in 1996 frankly blew my mind. That was “we are not supposed to be there yet” territory, before I knew about Moore Law etc., and Dreamcast very soon after introduced the idea that home entertainment had caught up.

    Ah I have a very faint memory of being very impressed by a Hard Drivin arcade cab, specifically one which enclosed the player in a car-like shell. The 3D graphics looked incredible to me at the time. I was too small to play it though [upl-image-preview url=//]

    Dragon’s Lair - The first time I played it I probably didn’t even know what a laserdisc was, so the entire experience had me gaping at the screen. Despite that I probably pumped several dollars in and never got past the first minute or two.

    Holloseum / Time Traveler - even at the time I knew these were just novelty games, but still

    Daytona USA - this was surely as lifelike as visuals were ever going to get. nothing will ever surpass this, according to me in 1994

    @chazumaru#2073 I remember seeing that and ordering it. Received an Alpha version of VF3 and updating the software did not exist. Being an Aoi player I could freely punish a downed player on the version of the game I had by doing a ground grab and if it whiffed I could not be punished for it. Not so in the final version where if you whiffed she took an entire second to recover. First time I played it abroad I was punished for that…….badly.

    A few of many examples that come to mind:

    • Three-screen Darius, which also seemed to have a fancier sound system than other games.
    • Space Harrier, which they cordoned off a big area for and which I never played because I was sure I’d die too quickly to make it worth the additional cost. But arcades were 75% about watching other people play for me anyway.
    • Narc with its realistic graphics and surprising violence (especially that final boss fight). Smash TV for similar reasons a couple years later.

    Ahhhh, that Rush car in a cage with klaxons was great kid bait! It‘s just like "this car is FORBIDDEN, try it only if you’re real cool." Of course I'd have to try it!

    I had limited access to arcades so most of the stuff that impressed me was just "wow look at all the animation." Oddly the colors/shiny interior of the bubbles in Puzzle Bobble on Neo Geo really got me. Then Metal Slug with its huge detailed animations, and then Marvel vs Capcom, which looked SO IMPRESSIVE with its huge sprites and cool older kids playing it. That made me go out and buy Xmen vs Capcom for Saturn, which I probably played 4 times before deciding it was too complicated for me.

    Unfortunately all my answers are pretty boring. I do remember when some rich kid brought a neo geo home system into Beaman Company, the anime goods store near-ish to my dad's house. That's where I'd buy SonMay OST knockoffs and unofficial sailor moon stickers and whatever. They were playing Samurai Shodown, and I was like holy crap, those sprites are HUGE. And the cart being big seemed to have something to do with it in my mind. I guess I was really impressed by big sprites at the time. I was too intimidated to go up and try, so I never did :o

    This thread makes me feel old, my oldest arcade memory is stealing money to play space invaders as a kid in the seventies. I had to stand on a box to see the screen and reach the controls.

    well I guess that would be an impressive memory though!

    frankly anybody who has an impressive arcade game they can remember is very likely to be old at this point.

    Oh, and I mentioned this in a recent insert credit show but didn't totally get to finish it. when I was in Hyderabad I went to see a bollywood movie with my friend, because I figured I should see one while I was there (it was 3 hours long and not subtitled and only had like 4 songs in it, oops). Anyway while we waited for the movie to start, we went into the arcade - and it was like a decomissioned japanese arcade in there. All the games were Japanese, with Japanese roms and marquees. Like when you go to some arcade that bought whatever they could afford in 1998 from other shops that had closed down, then never updated after that, and just stayed way out in the boonies surviving off a few hundred yen coins per day.

    And there were kids in there playing these things, in a language they (presumably) didn't know, hanging out with Riding Hero and whatever else. I had just come from a game conference out there, and the whole experience really made me want to see what kinds of games those kids are gonna make in 20 years.

    When I was a kid, just about any light-gun game would impress me and make me want to play it.

    My absolute favourite, though, will always be Ocean Hunter. In the european version the game came with a complete cabinet with curtains to create complete darkness. The game, developed by SEGA AM1, was of course very good, and the fact that I have always been scared of sharks, giant sea creatures and abyssal monsters made the game super exciting to play. Also the guns were like mounted turrets that shot torpedoes and had force feedback with every shot, which made the game even more immersive and exciting. I like it so much I dream of buying a cabinet on an auction site or a second hand retailer to this day.

    [[upl-image-preview url=//]

    yeahhhhh I can really imagine the experience of that one! If anyone sees this in the wild, let me know, I'd like to try it out eventually.

    A few years ago there was a cockpit-style Star Wars Battle Pod at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo, and it was a great proof point for how presentation matters in an arcade game. The huge curved screen that goes down nearly to the floor and gives you a big field of view makes an OK rail shooter based on a popular movie franchise, into something I couldn't wait to try again.

    Each of the levels I played all have good moments, but the Hoth scenario I remember being my favorite. There is a large horizon reference that is constantly moving and aids in disorienting the player.

    Super fun even though they take liberties with cannon. I mean, TIE Interceptors never entered the atmosphere in Hoth, c'mon. 🤣

    Pretty much any giant plastic thing that you could never play at home was impressive.

    Die Hard Arcade/Dynamite Deka. I just remember those chunky polygons and the vibrant colors and thinking “Wow… this is the future.”

    Also, like @MichaelDMcGrath said, Virtual On. That dedicated cab blew me away as a teen.

    F-Zero GX. This was like 3 years ago.

    I guess you mean F-Zero AX!

    Did you see the thing where they found F-Zero AX data in the GX code? It only got found in 2013! Relive your dreams!!