Arcade games were once the pinnacle of computer entertainment, and every mall had at least one business devoted to arcade classics such as Pac-Man. Those days are long gone, with coin-operated games being largely replaced by home consoles such as Xbox and Playstation.
Types of Games in an Arcade
While video arcades have all but disappeared in the United States, the industry is still thriving in Japan. Walk into any Japanese video arcades and you’re likely to find the following types of games:
Driving — An arcade where the primary emphasis is on driving a vehicle. These could range from action games like Spy Hunter to those more akin to a driving simulator.
Fighting — Games where the player selects a character and then fights a series of opponents in one-on-one combat. The most successful examples were the Street Fighter and Mortal Combat series.
Timing — I don’t know the appropriate term for this type of game, so I just made up my own. These are defined as games that require timing and reflexes, such as Pac-Man, Frogger, and Donkey Kong.
Flight — These are games where the player is required to fly a plane or helicopter. Most flight games are more concerned with action than realism.
Beat ‘em Up — While fighting games emphasize singles combat, the Beat ‘em Up genre pits players against hoards of foes. A classic example is the Double Dragon series.
Light Gun — Players navigate through a series of challenges by shooting on-screen targets with an attached light gun. Examples include Time Crisis and House of the Dead.
Music — Games where rhythm plays an important role. Examples include the arcade version of Guitar Hero, as well as more physical games such as Dance Dance Revolution.
Most Popular Arcade Games
While these names are no longer synonymous with the industry, there was a time when they dominated sales and created lines at the arcade. I’m talking, of course, about the most popular arcade games of all time.
Pac-Man — Players took control of a hungry yellow orb as he gobbled dots and tried to stay one step ahead of ghosts.
Space Invaders — The objective of Space Invaders was to blast away waves of aliens and earn as many points as possible.
Street Fighter II — Players could utilize traditional or combo moves as they battled with Ken, Ryu, Chun-Li, Guile, and many more.
Donkey Kong — Centered around an industrial setting, the original version of the game pitted the heroic Mario against a barrel-loving ape.
Ms. Pac-Man — Essentially the same game as Pac-Man, although the lead character wore lipstick and had a bow in her hair.
Asteroids — A small ship tried to survive while being bombarded by asteroids and the occasional alien vessel.
Defender — Alien invaders were the villains in this classic game, and players were also required to protect a series of unlucky astronauts.
Centipede — Set in a field of mushrooms, Centipede required the player to rapidly blow apart a centipede as it snaked its way towards the bottom of the screen.
Galaxian — The player controlled a spaceship at the bottom of the screen, while relentless waves of an alien armada made strafing runs from above.
Donkey Kong Jr. — This game marked the only time that Mario played a villain. The hero of the game, a young ape, was required to complete multiple levels in order to rescue his father from the clutches of the diabolical Italian plumber.
Arcade games are a distant memory, replaced by home consoles and the opportunity to play opponents from around the world (and endlessly taunt them via an Internet connection). Still, you wouldn’t have one without the other, which means arcade gaming is a vital part of the video game revolution.