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Man, I miss the old arcades. They were the proper golden days of gaming. Without those, we probably wouldn't have the consoles now and it's a shame that the consoles being so powerful have pretty much been the deathnell for the arcade. Most younger gamers will never experience a proper arcade where grown men used to stand around machines smoking fags playing games for hours at a time with crowds of other men stood watching...
There were so many great arcade games that I could go on for hours listing them. Some of my money/time sinks from back in the day were: Robocop, Wardner, Gyruss, Cabal, Shinobi, TigerHeli, Forgotten Worlds, Power drift, Galaxian, Galaga, OP wolf, Scud Racer and loads upon loads of others.
My all time greats though are these below and tbf, I've probably missed a ton:
Outrun was my all time favourite. Had my high score on this printed in C&VG back in the day (my claim to fame). Even now the tracks are so ingrained on my memory that I can still finish the game on one credit... Impresses the missus no end when we're out, haha
Another money sink was Gauntlet 2. I remember playing the first quite a bit but, the second was just brilliant and improved on the first in every way. 4 strangers camped round a machine working together (or trying to) to get through the levels. The arguments over food and potions were legendary.
Bubble Bobble was another that I played to death in the SU. Finished this with a mate and you simply couldn't do it without the level jumps that popped up at certain intervals. To get the level jumps, one of you couldn't lose a life so had to be protected which was very hard to do on the latter levels.
Star Wars was another fave in the local arcade. I was crap at it but there were a couple of lads that used to come in and sit on it for a couple of hours at a time. Sounds daft but it was amazing to watch.
Smash TV I loved. Just a brilliant two player game and it was frenetic after the second boss.
Robotron precursor to Smash TV. I still play this when I see it and it's twin stick control was way ahead if it's time.
Killer Instinct 2 was amazing. I was never into beat em ups like Street Fighter, Virtua Fighter or Tekken etc but, this was incredible. The music, graphics and ridiculous gameplay had me hooked. So much so, I ended up buying a machine.
Kick and Rush was a brilliant football game which used a trackball to move and pedals to pass and shoot. 4 player as well similar to gauntlet. Quality game.
Combat School was another that used to draw the crowds. Another trackball game where you had to get a soldier round an assault course. A few of used to play this in the SU going for fastest times.
Gunsmoke was basically Commando with cowboys. Loved this game but it was another which got very difficult very quickly. The ninja boss was an arse.
Strider was amazing. A platform action game that had you fighting stupendous bosses. It was actually one of Capcoms easier games, especially when you learned the boss routines.
Ikari warriors was another 10p gobbler. It was also another arcade game to feature innovative controls. A joystick for movement which also had a handle which rotated to allow your character to turn on his axis to shoot in any direction. Twin sticks would have been better but it still worked perfectly and was a great game.
R-Type the daddy of the schmups. Just a gorgeous game to look and even better to play. Managed to finish this after many, many, many frustrated attempts. Once you were past level 5 the difficulty level went through the roof and death meant game over as you lost all your power ups.
Vulcan Venture was my second favourite schmup. Not as good as R-Type but ran it very close. Probably the best Nemesis/Gradius game in the series bar Gradius V on the PS2.
Buggy Boy was another I used to play a lot. I don't seem to remember it being that great but, I spent enough money on it.
Space Harrier was a decent game. Not on a par with Sega's other stuff and was more of a spectacle than a great game but nonetheless, it was still fabulous to play.
Double Dragon. How could I leave this game off the list - It was immense. This game and the superb final fight in particular (that had you fight your mate alongside you) caused more arguments between my mates than any game I can remember. If you were the first to get the elbow in, you won - simple as that. Even now I'm chuckling remember the hassle this caused when you were stood over your opponent waiting for him to get up to elbow him back down...
Forgot about Super Sprint. That was a great game and one I found really tough. Came alive though with 3 people playing.
A couple of others I used to love were the Time Crisis and House of the Dead series. I don't think I ever saw anyone finish either of those on one credit as they seemed to be they type of game that required a stream of 10p's to continue.
Another I missed of my list that I used to play a lot was New Zealand Story. I played this to death when it came to our arcade and the simple platform nature of it belied a game of huge depth (at the time). It was very reminiscent of Mario in that there were many hidden areas, shortcuts, and things to find. It broke the mould at the time and I think I still have this on the PC Engine.
Rastan Saga was another I played a lot. Never finished it in the arcade but managed it when I bought a Supergun and the PCB. Similar to Rygar but with better mechanics.
I loved this game. The whole concept of bashing the opponents vehicle...ace! In many ways I felt that Burnout on the Ps2 was the modern day, spiritual successor to this..even though you had all the need for speed games with similar aspects.