Top Ten: Arcade Games of All Time

While arcades have seen an unfortunate decline in usage over the past years, many of the games have had a profound impact on gaming culture. Here is a quick list of ten of the most influential arcade games.

10. Mario Kart Arcade GP

Mario Kart has been a great party game since the original debuted on SNES, and the arcade version is no different. While it will not give driving lessons to your 16 year old, the game is fun, addictive, and competitive.


9. AfterBurner Climax

Fighter pilots could be considered the knights of the modern age, and for just a coin or two AfterBurner can let the player don the supersonic suit of armor. The stick controls and throttle lend to the feeling of being truly inside the cockpit, and the deluxe edition’s moving cabinet takes this even further.

8. House of the Dead 4

The House of the Dead series has always offered fast-paced action with unique and interesting enemies, and the fourth is no different. Be prepared to wear your trigger finger out when you step up to this challenging rail shooter.


7. Star Wars: Racer

Even if the second and third films in the second Star Wars trilogy did not quite meet expectations, the first of them sparked a revival of interest in Star Wars. The franchise found its way to the arcades with a game based on the pod racing sequence on Tatooine, and the blazingly fast racing will test to see if you have the reflexes of a Jedi.

6. Need for Speed: Underground

The seventh game in the Need for Speed series, Underground features semi-realistic driving physics, hot pursuit chases, the addition of a drifting competition, and the use of PlayerCards allow arcade users to customize their rides in the same way the console users could.

5. Marvel versus Capcom

Team fights, lightning-paced action, and recognizable characters were combined into one of the most popular fighting games ever. Even though King of Fighters already included team fights, the ability to change the active character on the fly, and the over-the-top abilities made MvC stand above the SNK game in popularity.

4. Dance Dance Revolution 4th Mix

The DDR series is one of those few games that appeals to gamers of both genders and includes some vigorous physical activity. The great music selection, competitive scoring, and endorphin release make a game that is essentially “step in a place when told” into a successful and stable franchise.

3. Contra

No list of arcade games would be complete without including Contra. The side-scrolling action game set conventions for the genre that still exist to this day, and its innovative use of two differing game modes kept the already intense action fresh.


2. PacMan

A simple concept that was delivered well and had a scoring system was all it took for a game to be successful in the early years of arcades, but PacMan had this and something special and intangible. Navigating a maze, chomping down pellets, and running from ghosts might sound boring on paper, but the game is still an addictive and fun arcade offering over 20 years later.

1. Street Fighter 2

Anyone who loves fighting games knows how indebted the genre is to SF2. Until this game, players in fighting games could only pit their skills against the AI. This simple addition was pivotal to the life of arcades in the ’90s, and no fighting game after it could afford not to include PvP. With five console versions, two arcade versions, two live action movies, an animated film, two anime series, and a slew of successors in the game line, the impact of SF2 cannot be denied.