Arcade gaming, a glorious era when it WAS possible to thump other players for being assholes.

The History of Arcade Games

Arcades started as meccas of gaming, because home consoles either

  1. Sucked, or
  2. Were the Neo Geo and cost approximately three kidneys per game.

They devolved into hangouts for indescribably lame gangs of 80s bullies, before the nineties reinvented them as exercise centers. They now exist mainly as museums or signposts that you're in Japan.

High Scores

Because they were limited to the people in one area high scores actually meant something - it wasn't possible for a Korean to fly in and set a score that looked like a serial number. Or rather it was, but they spent the air fare on tokens to play in their own local arcades (while their English-speaking obsessive compulsive equivalents were busy at home running through Manic Miner for the fortieth time in a row).

People spent days trying to get from the left screen to the right, making Xbox Achievements look like Nobel Prizes.

Also, the "SET YOUR INITIALS" system only gave you three letters, making it impossible for idiots to set their name as "HitlerCock."

It was a simpler time.

Shared Equipment

The problem with arcade games is that everyone had to share the same cabinet rely on other people to not be assholes, which worked about as well as it now does on Live. The best games had joysticks that were as responsive as a corpse, more cigarette burns than a magnesium ashtray, and were usually covered in a sticky residue you dearly hoped was soda (or at least that it was only from one person.)

Some of the Best

Space Invaders (1978)

The most iconic video game of all time, earning over half a billion dollars from the deep human belief that anyone from anywhere else looks funny, is bad at strategy, and should be shot.

OutRun (1986)

The ultimate driving game with a cabinet where the player could move, choose what music to listen to, and get a girl - basically all the things they could have if they weren't stuck in an arcade.

Wonder Boy in Monster Land (1987)

The ultimate exemplar of the arcade's promise to kill people who don't know what they're doing while experts could stay all afternoon for a single credit. These players have an audience of all the people who just died, in the worst form of hero worship since someone in Waco said, "Hey, guys, I've got a great idea!"

Street Fighter II (1991)

The sequel to the hideously flawed Street Fighter, an improvement on par with Angelina Jolie being a sequel to a Womble. The most successful fighting game of all time - so much so Capcom decided to make it again annually for over a decade.

Metal Slug (1996)

Gloriously detailed Contra-style shooter which almost, almost made the Neo-Geo home arcade system worth the ridiculous cost. Later released on consoles real people could afford.

House of the Dead (1996)

The single best light-gun game in arcade history, so good they had to make the worst movie ever just to balance things out and make Time Crisis feel better.

Some of the Worst (That Were Popular Anyway)

Dragon's Lair (1983)

An entire game made of quicktime events, popular anyway because of its "great" graphics - which weren't actually game graphics but an extremely crappy cartoon cut-scene which randomly killed you for pressing the wrong button.

Splatterhouse (1988)

Gore Instead of Gameplay, Part I: Splatterhouse was a side-scrolling beat-em-up which made Double Dragon look deep. Then again, by Splatterhouse standards Hungry Hungry Hippos had sophisticated controls.

Mortal Kombat (1992)

Gore Instead of Gameplay, Part II: Realizing they couldn't compete with Capcom Midway decided to draw some blood on the screen instead. In a permanent insult to all of video gaming, this worked. The revolutionary digitized sprites meant each character (many of whom were other characters with differently colored pajamas) had about three moves each and all the subtle fighting feel of two men throwing chairs at each other.