If you were born in the 90s then you definitely remember the arcades. Every kid would go to the arcades after school and spend all their lunch money on coins. These coin guzzling arcade cabinets offered amazing games with each game more addicting than the last one. If you have been looking for some of the best games from the golden era of arcades or just want to try out some retro arcade games then we have compiled the list of 15 best retro arcade games. These games were definitely one in the most popular in the list of arcade games at that time. So, without any further ado, here are 15 best retro arcade games of all time:
If you don’t know who Pac-Man is then you’re probably too young to be on the internet. Everyone knows this character as he’s one of the most recognized gaming characters of all time.
Pac-Man is one of the most popular arcade games of all time. Simple and straightforward with a high replayability. Just go around eating the little dots while avoiding the colorful ghosts. You can eat the bigger dots to turn those colorful ghosts into blue-vulnerable ones and eat them as well for higher scores. The whole point of the game is to eat all the dots without dying and score as high as possible for a top position on the leaderboards.
Galaga is the sequel to Galaxian, a very popular arcade shooter. This game brought in new elements into the gameplay to make it unique and even more addictive than its predecessor. It is definitely one of the most successful video games of its time and still, it sees a good amount of play after being ported to different consoles and handhelds. You are in control of a spaceship situated at the bottom of the screen while the enemies are situated on top in a formation. You have to shoot them all down before they reach you while actively avoiding their fire. It sounds simple, but it’s really difficult as you advance through levels. However, this is one of the most addictive game of all time.
3. Street Fighter 2
The best fighting game of all time. No one can deny the fact that Street Fighter 2 is the real father of the fighting genre. This game single-handedly took the fighting genre from the shadows to the limelight. Street Fighter 2 introduced characters that have become the fighting game community. All fighting games are and forever will be inspired by this amazing game and its characters in one way or another. If you were there in the arcades during the Golden-era then you know how popular Street Fighter 2 was with its impeccable gameplay and amazing graphics for its time. Still, considered one of the best fighting games and played by thousands of people from around the world.
4. Space Invaders
Space Invaders invented the space shoot’em up formula that was copied by Galaxian and its successor, Galaga as well. Space Invaders is a simple and non-colorful shooter where you have to defend your spaceship against a horde of flying aliens right above you. These aliens keep moving in a direction and make their way down to you, so you have to kill them before they reach you while avoiding their fire. It’s a highly addictive game that inspired a lot of clones of the game to pop-up. The gameplay is simple, but it takes a lot of concentration to become the top-scorer on the leaderboards. If you want a simple shoot’em up then Space Invaders is definitely a must try.
5. Donkey Kong
Before Mario started his life-changing running journey to save the Princess from the clutches of Bowser, he actually went head to head against Donkey Kong to save his little princess. Donkey Kong is the game where Mario took matters way too seriously and climbed actual ladders and hoops to beat the seven colors of rainbow out of Donkey Kong and save his beloved princess. Donkey Kong is a really fun and addictive arcade game where you start from the bottom and your objective is to reach the top where Kong is keeping the princess hostage. You will face barrels, living embers, and other obstacles in your way created by Kong. So, avoid the obstacles and climb up top to save the princess.
6. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Who doesn’t love the super amazing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Well, if you do love those little turtle ninjas then you will love to know that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle was and is still, considered one of the best arcade games out there. It’s the most fun beat’em up game you will ever find and best of all, it lets 4-people play together. So, you get to take the entire turtle gang out on a beat everyone up adventure. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a game where you roam around the city beating bad guys and clearing levels. If you want an endless amount of fun along with your friends then this is the right game for you.
7. The Simpsons
This is another one of the most popular beat’em up games. Yeah, we know you’re wondering how come a Simpsons game can be a beat’em up, but trust us on this one. The Simpsons is a game similar to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in terms of gameplay. You can play as a 4-player party in a co-op scenario, taking on the roles of the popular Simpsons family members. The game offers a colorful cartoon-like graphics and an amazing gameplay which never stops being exciting. The game is full of quirky animations and funny elements that will keep you as entertained as the show.
8. Golden Axe
Golden Axe is definitely a great hack n slash game from the arcade era. You get to choose from a roster of 3 characters who each wield a different power and style of gameplay. There’s the buffed up Conan-like barbarian who is good at everything with a great magic ability, there’s a dwarf who’s a bit slow, but possess great strength in his attacks and finally, the girl, who’s pretty fast, but weaker in attacks, although, she has the most powerful magic ability in the game. This game is all about playing with a friend in co-op mode and defeating the end boss. The storyline is quite decent, but Golden Axe is all about hacking and slashing your way through all the levels.
9. After Burner
If you ever get a chance to play this amazing arcade game in its original cabinet then don’t even think twice and just hop in there. The original cabinet features a full-on cockpit design with the ability to rotate vertically as if you were in an actual fighter jet. All the rotating and flipping might make it difficult for you to keep your lunch down, but it’s whole lot of fun. Shoot down enemy jets in an adrenaline-pumping gameplay. They certainly do not make them like this anymore. After Burner is a game for real fans of fighting jets and air warfare.
10. Virtua Cop 2
An amazing 3D shooter that was really fun with the actual light guns, but the PC port wasn’t bad either, where you got to control the aim with mouse. It’s a great co-op shooter where you get to play as a cop along with your friend and shoot down all the bad guys in the city. There are epic boss battles that require you to think of different ways to bring the bosses down. The game is full of all out action and there is no room to breath. If you are looking for constant action then Virtua Cop 2 is definitely a must play for you.
11. Sunset Riders
Sunset Rider is another 4-player game that actually takes the co-op gameplay to a whole new level. The gameplay is all about shooting the bad guys similar to other shoot’em ups, but it includes a lot of exciting and fun elements which includes horse riding while shooting, using taverns for upgrades ( and meeting cute girls). 4 players can play together in co-op to shoot everything and anything that moves. Just go all out with your guns because there’s no ammo count and there are no reloads, just pure and simple shooting action.
12. Metal Slug 2
SNK probably knocked it out of the park with their Metal Slug shoot’em up game franchise. This game followed the same formula as Contra, but added a lot more colors and amazing animations. The game offers great graphics with an unending shooting action. You get to use a plethora of different weapons, vehicles, and bombs to blow your enemies to bits and pieces. The two player mode makes it even more fun when playing with a friend. Choose a special agent from a roster of 4 and wreak havoc on your enemies. Also, don’t forget to release all the POWs because they will provide you with weapons and abilities to aid you in your fight.
13. Mortal Kombat
Another fighting game that redefined the fighting genre with its own unique twist. Mortal Kombat was not the average fighting game with cute graphics and fireballs, instead Mortal Kombat added a whole new level of gore into the fighting game that gathered a lot of attention. It still follows the same formula, but now we see every other developer introducing gore into different games. Mortal Kombat was the first arcade game to have very gory scenes which included but not limited to the decapitation of a head, ripping out the spine of enemies, and more. All these bloody elements made this amazing fighting game one of the most popular fighter of its era. It was and still is really fun to completely obliterate your enemies with an epic Fatality.
Frogger is a very simple and straightforward game with a very unforgiving gameplay. One simple mistake or timing error would lead you to ruins or simply, death. This game teaches you that you should never cross roads without properly looking at both sides of the road. You take control of a little frog who wants to cross the road, the lake, and whatnot to reach his little home. Just press forward to jump ahead and back key to take a step back. Sounds simple, right? But, you have to avoid oncoming traffic on the road, be careful about sinking logs in the lake, and even be wary of the alligators roaming in the waters for a tasty frog snack. The game is highly rewarding though. When you actually finish a level it feels really amazing and satisfying. Completely addictive game for everyone.
Shooting aliens in space is awesome, but 1942 actually brings the entire action back to earth in a WWII setting. You get to control a fighter plane and shoot down enemy pilots, aircraft carriers, warships, and many other vehicles. This game offers amazing graphics and tight controls that let you enjoy the shooting action. The game offers a colorful environment with great explosions. This bullet hell shoot’em up is a classic and definitely a staple of the arcades. It feels very rewarding to break the highest score and put your name at the top of the leaderboards. However, you should be very careful because this game chugs coins like no one else because of its higher difficulty level.
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The Best Retro Arcade Games You Can Play
These are our favorite retro arcade games of all time. There are numerous other arcade games that we also enjoy which include but not limited to Altered Beast, Snow Bros, Bubble Bobbles, Final Fight, and countless others. However, the above-mentioned games are the ones we feel strongly about. If you have other favorite arcade games in mind then feel free to mention them in the comments section below.