40 Years of Arcade Games – Part 2(1990-2012)

arcadehero June 28, 2012 8
40 Years of Arcade Games – Part 2(1990-2012)

So the 40 Years of Arcade Games post to celebrate Atari’s 40th anniversary had so much content on it that I had to split it up to keep the post from crashing.

See Part 1 here if you haven’t already!

The content is split up between tabs. Click on the tab you want and it will show the games I’ve selected from those years. There is a lot of content, it may take a few moments to load please be patient.


KLAX– Fun puzzle game that went in a different direction than Tetris by Atari games.

Rampart – Excellent strategy/puzzle game by Atari Games. Best version is 3 players with the trakballs.

Ataxx – A strategy game I am always fond of playing when I come across it.

Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker – An isometric view game, more along the lines of a beat ’em up. Value shot up a bit too much after the singer’s death.

Raiden – Vertical scrolling shooter that influenced many others in the same genre. Also had some excellent sequels.

Smash TV – Take Robotron and make it both violent and humorous and you get Smash TV. Also added bosses which wasn’t really a thing back in Robotron’s days.

Air Inferno – 3D helicopter simulator by Taito where you were invovled in air rescue operations

Slick Shot– Pool video games were ok but Slick Shot showed that with arcade hardware you could make it more of a simulator experience. It could not however help you with your fashion sense.


Street Fighter II – Doesn’t need much on an introduction. This set the gold standard for one-on-one fighters. The 90s would be dominated by this type of game as well as many SF2 revisions Capcom would produce.

Knights of The Round – A beat ’em up by Capcom with a medieval theme. Nowhere near as recognized as Street Fighter but was still quite good.

Steel Talons – A great 2-plater helicopter simulator with 3D graphics. Featured authentic helicopter controls.

B.O.T.S.S. Battle of The Solar System – Mech battle game with flat shaded 3D polygons.

StarBlade -First person space combat in a cockpit cabinet. This used a yoke and a curved mirror to create a unique image. Awesome game but then again, all of these are 🙂 Sadly the sequel to this in 2002 was shelved.

The Simpsons – Took a page from TMNT Arcade to great success. Great fun for four players

Karate Blazers – Sometime in 1991, someone said “Wouldn’t a 4-player Double Dragon be totally radical?” – or something to that effect. The result was Karate Blazers by Video System. Man, I sure do miss beat ’em ups.

Cycle Warriors – We have to have some quirky games on the list. How about this game by Tatsumi which resembled Road Rash. One place it varies – you touch a running grandmother with a handcart to repair your damage.



Space Lords – Take the old Space War concept and put it into a first person setting. This supported up to 8 players using two linked cabinets that had two monitors each. By Atari Games.

Golden Axe: The Revenge of Death Adder – A sequel to Sega’s popular fantasy beat ’em up. Great game I play every time I come across it

Holosseum– Unique attempt at holograms, which was really just using special mirrors to create the effect.

X-MEN- The huge beat ’em up with a love for Engrish

R-Type Leo – R-Type had been around in arcades for a few years already, here is the last one to reach arcades with beautiful graphics


NBA Jam – This basketball game used an NBA license, real player rosters, digitized graphics and was a ton of fun

Segasonic The Hedgehog – An arcade exclusive venture of Sonic, with an isometic view and support for three players. You control the game with a trakball.

Dungeon Magic – Another RPG from Taito, with an isometric view

In The Hunt – Think of Metal Slug for submarines

Cyber Sled – Namco’s 3D arena battle game with hover craft like vehicles

Ridge Racer – Namco had a good track record of racing games over the years, Ridge Racer became a a strong series for them that was eventually replaced by Wangan Midnight. This was the first arcade title to use textured polygons.

Lucky & Wild – Why not combine two extremely popular arcade hardware controls into one game, with light-guns and a steering wheel? Pretty much a buddy cop game.



T-MEK – Arena style shooter with some BattleZone elements to it, but the play is much faster. The sound is incredible for this twin player cabinet, one of my favorite games.

Elevator Action Returns – Sequel to Taito’s 1983 arcade venture, this game matured in graphics and play, one of my favorites.

Gunforce 2 – Predecessor to Metal Slug. Game style and graphics were very similar.

Alien Vs Predator – Two completely different AvP games came out this year, the arcade version a beat ’em up by Capcom.

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 – No it wasn’t the first game that launched the series, but this was the culmination of their experience with the games over a couple of years, making for a great game.

Tekken – Namco’s flagship 3D fighter series got it start this year. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 was released in 2011.

Star Wars Arcade – A 3D simulator by Sega that had a spot for a pilot and co-pilot

Killer Instinct – There were a lot of fighters out there but KI managed to draw players in and influence other fighter games afterwards. It became known for its huge combos.  Killer Instinct 2 came out a little later and was an arcade exclusive game. Released by Midway

Puzzle Bobble – Entertaining variation on Bubble Bobble that made it a puzzle game, this concept has been copied by many other games.

Daytona USA – The 90s arcades are usually discussed in terms of fighters but when people weren’t duking it out with punches, they were competing on Daytona.

Crusin’ USA – also in ’94 saw the launch of Midway’s Crusin’ USA which would establish a pattern that many racers would follow. This used digitized textures instead of handdrawn, a technique that became popular soon afterwards.


Area 51 – A pistol light-gun shooter with digitized graphics that became quite popular

19XX: The War Against Destiny – Great installment in the 1942 series.

Soul Edge – Namco’s 3D fighting game that preceded Soul Calibur

Bubble Memories: The Story of Bubble Bobble 3– The most recent arcade installment to the Bubble Bobble series. You could change the size of the bubble by how long you held the button down.

Sonic Wings 3 – The last part of the Sonic Wings/Aero Fighters series that had some story telling for each character’s plane in the mix


Time Crisis – The shooter to start off this popular series landed this year.

AquaJet – Jetski simulator by Namco

Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara – More popular title of the arcade D&D games by Capcom

Osman – Interesting game that was kind of like Strider

Die Hard Arcade – I spent a bit of time on this at the local arcade. The graphics have aged horribly but it was fun. By Sega.

Metal Slug – The popular run n’ gun series got its start on the NeoGeo MVS hardware, done by Nazca

Battle Garegga – Highly rated shooter/STG game by Raizing

Prop Cycle – Quirky game where you pedal to move your glider. It also had a built in fan for a wind blowing effect


Arkanoids Returns – Taito’s fun twist on the Breakout concept

Rampage World Tour -A revisitation of the Rampage concept, almost ten years later

Solar Assault – 3D Space shooter by Konami that is based on the Gradius series

Final Furlong – Great concept in racing that took a turn by using horse riding controllers

Panic Park – Another from Namco, this was a party type game where you used sliding controllers to push your opponent aside, very entertaining.

Beatmania – It doesn’t get as much attention as DDR but this is where Konami started to mix up the market with rhythm gaming, which would become important to arcades. Konami has created many different versions of this over the years.

Hang Pilot – Hang gliding without the risk of dying and a neat simulator type setup

Strikers 1945 II – An excellent vertical shooter by Psikyo


Dance Dance Revolution – Konami’s King of the dance machines made its debut this year, with many revisions and sequels to follow.

Guitar Freaks – Years before Guitar Hero was a thing for a while, there was Konami’s Guitar Freaks. They still make new versions of this annually in Japan.

Gunmen Wars – Namco took a stab at the first person shooter at the arcade and this is one of the first examples of their “NamCam” hardware that would take a picture of the player for their avatar. Also used a unique mounted gun/joystick control.

Star Wars Trilogy Arcade – Made before the prequels and the tweaks, this just focuses on the action of the first three movies. This is another favorite of mine, I used to play the crap out of it so I could clear it in one credit without getting hit.

Spike Out – An off rails fighting game for up to four players that allowed the player to explore and break away from the others. For the Japanese candy cabs, Sega created a special sound system called the HeadWave. This is very hard to find out West, Sega would follow up with two other titles ending with Spikers Battle in 2001.

Shock Troopers 2nd Squad – Run n’ gun more in the style of Total Carnage.

King of Fighters ’98 – There are many King of Fighters titles, this one receives a lot of praise for what it had to offer.

The House of the Dead 2 – Excellent sequel to the first title, before the obsession with zombies got a little out of hand in pop-culture.


Combatica – Years before motion capture technology became a thing, there was this rare game that used the technology in conjunction with a fighting game. Two players stood in a chamber doing martial arts moves that the game would translate into on screen movements. Done by Holoplex.

Savage Quest – Play as a carnivorous dinosaur that is on a search to save its eggs.

Brave Firefighters – Put out fires in a variation on the light-gun game. Great graphics and a cool, fire hose controller

Sega Flash Beats – Not a video game in the traditional sense of there being a monitor but there is still a visual element to this music game, it’s just presented differently. It works out like a Pong game almost in a head-to-head match.

Strider 2 – The side scrolling Strider hit 3D.

Gauntlet Legends Dark Legacy– I spent quite a bit of time playing the Gauntlet sequels when they came out, as one of the few arcade RPGs on the market that worked perfectly.

San Francisco Rush 2049 -Last arcade installment of the Rush series. Great graphics, booming sound and plenty of secrets and scoring methods to keep you coming back for more. My favorite racer.

CarnEvil – Kill hordes of evil creatures in this gory game with a morbid sense of humor.

Hydro Thunder – Made racing boats fun while looking great.

Crazy Taxi – Set a standard for a new kind of driving game involving picking people up and getting them to their destination as fast as possible.

War: Final Assault – I spent a bit of time at the arcade ranking up my character on this first person shooter by Atari Games. This video is my own from when I had the game but I’ve since sold it as I was out of space at the time.

Vortex V3 – Found a way to get VR technology into the arcade without the insane price tag, although it was a little limited in movement, with the VR headset attached with an arm to the cabinet. Also had multi-game support, with new games coming out for it as late as 2008. By GlobalVR.



Gaming was now in the 21st century. That would mean dabbling with online features among other things.  Here are some choices from the turn of the century to now.

Sega Strike Fighter – A simulation style aerial combat game. The deluxe cabinet used a three-screen view.It was released as an upgrade for Airline Pilots, another simulator game released the year prior.

Power Stone 2 – A great 4 player arena fighter by Capcom. Most of the videos of this online are of the Dreamcast version.

Silent Scope 2: Dark Silhouette – Konami’s sniper game improved for this installment, which still does pretty well on location in some places I hear

Monkey Ball – The original concept with the banana shaped joystick.

Turret Tower – Turret gameplay with a big hardware “twist” – your seat could spin around in any direction on the X -axis. Here is a kid playing it wrong

Benhur – Chariots and Gladiators are the theme of this unique racer. Pull the reins for directional control and a foot pedal to attack your opponents. Pretty rare game

Cannon Spike – Kind of a Smash TV type game but that is probably not the best comparison. Only video I could find was of the Dreamcast version

Marvel Vs Capcom 2 – This offered the popular combination of recognized characters, an increased roster, improved graphics and tweaked features.


Alienfront Online – Sega’s take on aliens vs. humans done in tanks. Players could choose to be a part of either side. Most significant feature was the online part for this game. While it wasn’t the first to try out online itself, it was the first to feature crossover play between arcades and consoles. The arcade version even came with headsets for online chat.  Video of the Dreamcast version.

Planet Harriers – A long awaited sequel to Sega’s Space Harriers, now in 3D and in a twin cabinet

Initial D – A technical racing game where you could level up your car and save progress to a card. Sega is currently up to the 7th installment in this series but after ID5 they have kept it just to Asia. Here is a trailer from Initial D 6

Wangan Midnight – About the same time as Initial D came Namco’s technical racer. Namco recently released Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 4 in Asia.

The Crystal of Kings – Great beat ’em up with good color by Brezzasoft

Blade of Honor – Motion sensing sword slashing game by Konami

MoCap Boxing – Konami really went to town with motion capture tech around this time, one popular title was this one, where you would box against a computer opponent in the first person, swinging your arms in front of the screen

Progear – Sidescrolling shooter from Capcom & Cave

The Grid – One of Midway’s last games, an arena shooter game that used a joystick/trakball for control.



Shootout Pool – A pool game that used a real cue stick. Sega made a tournament version of this people could play to win cash

Gamshara – One of the last games to follow the Cabal model, of a 3rd person shooter where the camera is behind the characters back and they blast hordes of enemies that come onto the screen before they move onto the next scene.

Warzaid – 4 player double monitor light-gun shooter. Top score winner per round becomes the squad leader in the next and gets to choose all of the paths.


OutRun 2 – Sega’s racing epic from the 80s returned in style with OutRun 2. Sega would release some upgrades to this, as well as a Super Deluxe cabinet where players sat in shells of vehicles.

Demolish Fist – 3D side scrolling beat ’em up.

Dolphin Blue – Took a page from Metal Slug but did it with a blend of 3D and 2D graphics. You ride dolphin in many sequences as well.

Virtua Cop 3 – Latest in the VC series was set in the future and the player would use the foot pedal to activate bullet time slowdown.


GHOST Squad – Sega’s take on anti-terrorist light-gun shooters with squad play.

Ollie King – Sega had released a few skateboarding type games, such as TopSkater in 1999, this was the most recent one they have done. This title in particular used cel-shading

In The Groove – A rhythm/dancing game that came along to challenge DDR’s dominance. The following year a lawsuit was brought by Konami which eventually ended in a settlement but in that time this and In The Groove 2 hit arcades to strong acclaim.

Target Terror – A tongue-in-cheek shooter game, kind of like Maximum Force. One of the last titles to use extensive digitized characters. Was the first title of Raw Thrills, which picked up the pieces of Midway after they had left the market to go bankrupt on the home side.



Under Defeat – Awesome vertical 3D shooter, where your craft of choice is a helicopter.

House of the Dead 4 – The latest in the zombie shooter game that gave players a machine gun they shook to reload.

Mario Kart Arcade GP – Mario Kart finally came to arcades, with the NamCam camera avatar system. Only drawback was 1st place did not win a free race.


AfterBurner Climax – Sega brought back Afterburner with a new look and three cabinet types, two of which featured a moving seat. Great, very fast action on this one. It was released out West but this video shows the Japanese version.

Aliens: Extermination – Arcade exclusive mounted light gun game with great graphics that hearkened back to the Aliens movie.

Virtua Fighter 5 – Sega’s staple 3D fighting series returned, with a new look to boot.

Time Crisis 4 – Currently the last of the Time Crisis unless you count Razing Storm although TC5 could be around the corner…

Let’s Go Jungle – A “buddy” shooter as the game focuses on working together. It used a theater style cabinet and mounted guns, while also including some mini-games. It did well enough to lead to a sequel, Let’s Go Island.

Half-Life 2 Survivor – Mostly found in Japan but on occasion in the US through imports, this turned Half Life 2 into a workable arcade title through Taito



2Spicy – Very unique light-gun one-on-one shooting game by Sega. Kind of an Old West idea but applied to a future setting. It used two cabinets linked together, one screen and controls per person. Destructible environments were cool but the control scheme (left and right foot pedals to move, point away from the screen to take cover) were too difficult for many player to handle so it didn’t sell too well.

Crazy Climber – This game made a return in 3D along with some very unusual controls

Raiden IV – Very good installment for Raiden, like 3 which was released in 2005 but with some improvements.

Chase HQ2 – Taito brought its demolition derby meets police chase game back for a sequel.


Nirin – Technical motorcycle racer with some great features, a large screen, movable bike seat and stellar graphics by Namco.

Blazing Angels – Brought the home console game to the arcade with a great sit-down cabinet that made it cross a little more into simulator territory.

CastleVania: The Arcade – Took a page from the Wii with its controllers, producing a first person CastleVania experience only found in arcades.


Primeval Hunt – tried to do something different with the dinosaur shooter by using a touch screen to plot your path around the level.

Oriental Legend 2 – 2D beat ’em ups like TMNT had taken a break for some time so this game was a great one to see. It had much more depth than the Konami beat ’em ups and even featured a card saving system to save character progress. As you level up, your character can do new moves with the complexity of a one-on-one fighting game.


Tank! Tank! Tank! – spiritual sequel to Tokyo Wars that added monsters, a few more levels and a great cabinet that uses a vertical screen along with strong feedback in the seat and wheel through a compressor. Also uses the NamCam avatar system.

Razing Storm – More of a sequel to Crisis Zone from 1999, which was an offshoot of Time Crisis. The foot pedal system is still in place but two players share one screen and the graphics are much improved.

H2Overdrive – Hydro Thunder lives, but with plenty of improvements. Designed by a team that was involved in the creation of Hydro Thunder in the first place, including the originals creator, this added achievements, extensive rankings, leveling up, a better throttle control and modern graphics.

HUMMER – This game didn’t get a lot of love out there but I liked it. Smash into pretty much everything on the track to gain a boost, while doing plenty of off road racing. Had a co-op driving feature built into it, which was taken advantage of with the two motion seat versions that had two wheels per screen.

Border Break – No sightings of this mech combat game have been seen out West but many would like to see this intense team shooter make its way elsewhere. It has been very popular in Japan.

DJ Max Technika – touchscreen rhythm game that is now in its 3rd installment, has online support as well. By PentaVision.

Guitar Hero Arcade – The popular home game came to arcades. A version with drums was going to be coming along but that was shelved.

Guitar Hero


Terminator Salvation – Quickly became one of the most popular games on the market. Set a high standard for cabinet design, used a new “clip” reloading feature, online leaderboards

DeadStorm Pirates – Similar in style to Let’s Go Jungle but with some improvements and a pirate theme. Uses a ship wheel that can be spun at certain points for an in game action. Great graphics to boot.

Dead Heat – Namco’s latest racer that uses some features from Wangan Midnight but in a more casual setting. Also uses the NamCam system

Elevator Action: Death Parade – Elevator Action goes 3D and uses light-guns. Awesome cabinet with real elevator doors that open and close in front of it.

Dance Dance Revolution X2 – most recent edition of DDR for US arcades, X3 is out in Japan but Konami has held off on a Western release for now.

Vulcan M – A chaingun shooting game – with a pretty realistic chaingun that shows shells loading and unloading, a spinning barrel and even spews smoke.

Super Bikes 2 – Sequel to Raw Thrills popular Super Bikes motorcycle racing title released in 2006. This features more tracks, bikes, upgraded graphics and a 42″ LCD monitor.


Dariusburst: Another Chronicle – Latest follow-up in the Darius series, with two 32″ screens, a booming sound system and extensive content for over 2000 levels to explore. Also introduced 4 player support to the series.

Pac-Man Battle Royale – Pac-man returns to arcades with a competitive 4 player setup. Great Facebook support for this and finding cabinets around the world, very fun party game.

Tetris Giant – Tetris, giant sized

Dirty Drivin – Fun offroad racer with strong focus on combat

Infinity Blade FX – The iOS game brought to the big screen with some graphical improvements.

Let’s Go Island 3D – It’s the same game as Let’s Go Island but this uses a huge auto-3D screen that doesn’t need glasses.

Operation GHOST – Sequel to GHOST Squad that uses a cool LED Surround sensor and spec ops guns

Golden Tee LIVE  2012  – Giving golf a place at the bar since 1989. The design changed in 2007, which didn’t include a monitor so the operator added their own HDTV.The online features have improved each year, adding features like uploading shots to Youtube and Facebook connectivity. They have also held frequent tournaments.

 Over The Top – Arm wrestling returns in this simple but fun game by Andamiro


Big Buck HD – Most recent and most feature packed installment of the long-running Big Buck Series. Loaded with online features. Video below sums up all the Big Buck games over the years.

ReRave – Fun music game based off of iOS game. Arcade supports a much larger screen plus 2p co-op play. Great online features as well, constant updates. Both this and Big Buck HD run in 1080p

GunLord – New platformer for the NeoGeo MVS with a Turrican vibe to it. By NG Dev Team.

Of course the year isn’t over yet and there will be more games on their way soon (a new replacement for Deadstorm Pirates called Dark Escape 3D is just around the corner as is a successor to Arctic Thunder; Sega also has a secret project they have been teasing)


  1. Arcades4ever June 28, 2012 at 11:38 am - Reply

    There are more games than you think arcade hero, are you just covering the ones that stand out e.g. PACMAN 80 time crisis 90 house of the dead 4 00 as you forgot games like final furlong, Golly ghost that uses a doll house backdrop, namco Panic park, gaelco football power that uses an actual football controller to kick the onscreen ball, konami’s DDR and bishi bashi games etc there are more than people think
    Also “a replacement to dead storm pirates” seems abit harsh as I would say the next best think to DSP.
    BTW are you trying to tell us time crisis 5 is on the way arcadehero 😉

    • arcadehero June 28, 2012 at 12:10 pm - Reply

      Well part of the problem is that it took me forever just to do this. I know there is a lot I didn’t get to or skipped, in a way I had to rush it out. I should have started earlier but I didn’t think of the idea until Monday

      That said I just did add a few more to the list 🙂

  2. kevin June 30, 2012 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    I can not see ‘SPIKEOUT’ without chewing my bottom lip at what an opportunity was lost.

    The game marks the point where the Japanese and Western amusement scene diverged. I tried my best to get this game fully released in the West – it did great numbers on test. But certain executives did not want to consider the network capability, the unique cabinet and also they could not get the ‘deals’ they wanted to handle the game.

    It is a sorry example of the short sighted nature of those that steer the market – all of those that blocked ‘SPIKEOUT’ were later kicked out – or ran out of the amusement industry!

    Thanks for what they left!!!

    • arcadehero July 1, 2012 at 4:16 pm - Reply

      I’ve always been hoping that if Sega was going to be re-releasing a concept in arcades these days it would be SpikeOut/Spikers Battle. Fingers crossed for one day as Justice League shouldn’t be the last hurrah for 3D arcade brawlers.

      • kevin July 2, 2012 at 5:32 pm - Reply

        Justice League was no hurrah!!

        That game still gives me cold sweats when I remember seeing it for the first time. I had to look the development team in the eye and give them my honest opinion – they will never forgive me!

        • Toby N February 18, 2013 at 4:11 pm -

          That’s mad Kevin, I remember Spikeout so fondly in my hometown of Brighton. It was in Family Leisure of West Steet, did you have anything to do with that? Jeffrey the manager used to get import games all the time like Typing of the Dead, Beach Spikers, rows of KOF and was a bit of legend. We loved Spikeout and it had quite a following. Then the dancegame scene was huge there until around 2003. It ended up being all gamblers although did keep the Maximum Tune. I still used to frequent that arcade until the month it shut =(

  3. Elena July 26, 2015 at 11:31 am - Reply

    During the same years when puzzle bobble was a must, I remember that for a short period I had a very similar (concept the same, match, shooting balls from down), but it was way nicer in the graphics, like it has different shapes, flowers etc…..Do you by chance remember the name of it?

    Also another one I remember where you had in front of you kind of a downhill street coming towards you, and loads of different objects were coming down, and I don’t remember, but most likely you had to like match them not to make them fall (and consequently lose).

    Any help would be appreciated 😀

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