Seeing classic arcade game machines lined up next to each other is an easy way to have a wave of nostalgia smack you in the face harder than a hurled barrel compliments of Donkey Kong himself. It brings you back to a time when games were simple, fun, and fairly cheap to play for the most part. Whether it was laughing at how all the enemies bullets traveled 75% slower than your own or enjoying the cheesy digitized voices, there's no denying the classic games had something special.
But there is something about arcade games that we don't think gets enough credit. While everybody has their picks for the best games, most people don't give too much thought about the artistry that was put into the cabinets which held these games. It is with that in mind that I-Mockery is paying tribute to what we consider to be the The 50 Greatest Arcade Cabinets In Video Game History! Keep in mind, this list isn't ranking the games themselves, but the unique designs for the cabinets and cockpits which encased them. Chances are, you'll see some games on here that you've never even heard of, and that's likely because some of them sucked more than E.T. on the Atari 2600. But hey, at least their outer shell designs were damned nice to look at! Furthermore, if there are some games you feel should be on the list, let us know and we might eventually add them!
#50: Space Invaders
Nobody can deny the desire to pop a quarter into this ol' machine should they be lucky enough to spot it. The inviting drawings on this cabinet helped catch people's attention and made Space Invaders hugely successful. What's nice is how some of the artwork on the faceplate actually bleeds into the screen area. At first glance you might think that it would be distracting but it's not. It just helps draw you into the game that much more. And let's be honest, it's a very simple game and it's not like the artwork would be covering up some vital detail anyway. Another noteworthy thing is that there is no joystick on this cabinet, the left & right movement controls are all buttons, just like the fire button.
#49: Crystal Castles
Crystal Castles tried a couple different things with this colorfully decorated cabinet. Most arcade games used joysticks for moving the player around, especially when movement is limited to the four cardinal directions, along with their four half-and-half cousins. Not Crystal Castles, though; the designers decided that the player should have to use a trackball to navigate the grid-like mazes in the game. It's an ingenious way to make your game seem unique, while simultaneously drawing extra cash out of the customer by causing a lot of cheap game overs. The game also came in a cocktail-style cabinet, in case you could convince someone else to join you in getting screwed out of your quarters. Hey, at least the trackball was backlit. That's cool, right?
They used to have this game at an old roller rink in town. The premise for the game is that you have to protect your friends from harm by picking off bad guys and flying debris with your trusty crossbow. To fully immerse you in the game, you had to actually use a small mockup of a crossbow. In a way, it was sort of like a primitive version of Silent Scope, except that there was no scope, just a couple notches in the thing that you lined up. The point is, the game allowed children to finally experience the elegant killing power of a crossbow (the H-bomb of the Middle Ages). Incidentally, there was a sharp increase in the number of crossbow-related injuries around the time this game came out, and the politicians of the day sought to pin the blame on video games. Frankly, I don't see the connection.
Being a cop requires certain specialized equipment. To that end, the designers of A.P.B. created a machine with a few special features to more accurately simulate the hectic life of a police officer. The game is almost all driving, so it's only natural that there be pedals and a steering wheel on the cabinet. However, the game also included one of the most memorable features of a cop car: the lights. Whenever you hit the "siren" button in the game, a set of red and blue lights at the top of the cabinet would begin flashing, giving you the chance to annoy and distract people from all the way on the other side of the arcade. Thankfully, though, the actual siren itself was in-game only. Also worth noting is that a platform seat could be attached to the cabinet, in case you felt your customers might not want to stand on one foot, with the other on the gas and/or brake, for an extended period of time
When making a simulator-type game, it is important that you nail down as many details of the experience as possible to completely immerse the player. One of the most basic steps you can take is to include a controller that looks and feels just like the real thing. That said, it's just common sense that Tapper, a bartender simulator, would have an actual pour spout to let you get the full feel of life as a bartender. Of course, you're not much of a bartender, as you only serve beer at your bar, and you only serve one kind of beer: Budweiser. Still, you got to experience bartender-dom in all of its glory. The cabinet even came with drink holders and a brass railing so that you could play as a bartender while still enjoying the amenities afforded to those on the opposite side of the bar.
The bad news: no tips.
It should also be noted that there actually was an alternate version of this game created for more family-oriented places (ie: Chuck-E-Cheese) and was renamed "Root Beer Tapper". Unfortunately the nice add-ons such as the brass railing and drink holders were not included with this version of the game.
There are many motorcycle racing arcade games out there, but none of them were based on the most memorable character from "Happy Days", Fonz! In addition to having handlebar controls that functioned exactly like a real motorcycle, you had the Fonz giving you a big thumbs up on the side of the machine. His visage alone makes this 1976 Sega classic worthy of our list. Eeeeyyyyy!
#44: Two Tigers
Here's another fun one from days past. The idea was that you'd sink your opponent's battleship not by randomly guessing a letter and a number, but by blasting through it with bombs and flaming plane wreckage. It even had steering controls just like an old-fashioned fighter plane, or so I assume. Of course, it was a little hard to control the plane with these controls since the action took place from a side view, and not a cockpit view like you'd expect from games with controls like this, but still, it added a certain degree of realism to the experience. Not quite enough realism to offset the fact that you had an unlimited number of planes and that each one only flew about 10 miles an hour, but it was still fun.
The game name? Bazooka. Your controller? A bazooka. Need I say more?
#42: Super Off-Road
I've said it before on this list, and I'm bound to say it again: I generally don't care for racing games. The sitting down is nice, but rarely do arcade racing games come with comfy chairs. Ivan "Ironman" Stewart saw this, and decided to save a little money on his racing game by simply doing away with uncomfortable plastic chairs and creating an entirely upright racing game. To some, this must seem like a bad move. Quite the contrary: indeed you are bound to get tired after standing for a while with one foot on the ground and the other tapping a squeaky metal pedal. That's where the "Ironman" part of the game comes into play. It was a race within the game, and a test of endurance without. One player toughs it out while his buddies crack from the strain and start mashing their "nitro" buttons, which merely leads to them slamming into the wall and griping about off-roading being a redneck sport. No no, thank you, Mr. Stewart.
Here's an old school classic for you. The wire frame tanks were cool, as were the nifty stickers for fake buttons carefully placed next to the real buttons that controlled your own tank (which was actually designed in 128-bit color with amazing texture detail and bump mapping, all of which went to waste when it was revealed that the game was entirely in the first person perspective). However, some of the cabinets were designed to further sell the whole "tank of the future" motif. Instead of having an ordinary, blasé screen, they had a sort of periscope view. Normally, completely shutting out all outside light and subjecting your eyes to nothing but bright wire frames for long periods of time could be detrimental to your eyesight, but thankfully, the developers had the foresight to include open areas to the sides of the scope frame to let in some sunlight, and to let a few people look in on you to see if you were doing well or sucking out loud. If Nintendo had remembered this little feature when they were designing their damned Virtual Boy, I might still be able to see the color red.
Having a game where you use a digitized hand to smash digitized bugs in a digitized house wasn't good enough for the designers of Exterminator. They wanted the entire cabinet to be shaped like one of the houses in the game, right down to the roof and chimney. It gave the game a very unique feeling, which was good because the cabinet couldn't be made to play any other games besides Exterminator (something that's commonly done in arcades). It was a very bold move. It wasn't a very popular move, especially since the cabinets themselves were pretty unreliable, but it was a bold move nonetheless.
#39: Title Fight
You kids today. In my day, we didn't have a "Nintendo Wii" with motion-sensitive control sticks for our boxing games. Oh no, we had our own kind of control "sticks" for our boxing games. Take Title Fight, for example. You had two joysticks, and each one was like a set of plastic brass knuckles that you would slam forward and backward in order to lay your opponent out on the canvas. There probably were sound effects in this game, but I could never make them out over the loud banging of the joysticks as I mimicked the motions (and enthusiasm) of real professional boxers. In a totally unrelated note, the local arcade was always sending their Title Fight machine away for repairs because somehow, the joysticks kept getting broken. Probably some punk kids spilling their sodas all over the damn console. I hate kids.
#38: Smash TV
Who doesn't remember Smash TV? Altered Beast had "Wise fwom your gwabe", and Smash TV had "Big money, big prizes, I love it!" Ok, I'll admit it doesn't have quite the same punch, but it was fitting, considering how many toasters and VCRs you could walk away with. The thing that really took me by surprise back when I first saw this thing was that instead of having a joystick and a couple buttons for shooting, it had an unbelievable two joysticks: one for moving, and one for shooting in one of eight directions. It was positively revolutionary. So much so that I didn't even mind the fact that I was getting totally reamed in that game, and shelling out more than my fair share of quarters trying to find the "Pleasure Domes", if you know what I mean.
#37: Laser Ghost
Lasers and ghosts were at long last brought together in this late 80's shooter. The cabinet featured plastic guns affixed to the console just like all the other shooters from that era. However, whereas other shooters could only fit two guns for two players onto the machine, Laser Ghost managed to squeeze a third gun in between the other two. This meant your other friend didn't have to wait for either you or your friend to die before jumping in. Unfortunately, the middle gun was much higher than the other two. Some versions of the cabinet included seats for players 1 and 3, and others included a seat for just player 2, but either way, someone was going to be left standing when you played the game. It was just a matter of figuring out which friend you liked least.
#36: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT)
If you were at an arcade with both this game and The Simpsons, you had a tough choice ahead of you, but either way you were in for a lot of fun. Now, the obvious thing to do would be to go with the TMNT game that four people could play, but they still made a number of cabinets designed for only two players. That's how you knew if you were in a cheap-ass arcade or not. Anyway, the cabinet itself was decked out with images of the turtles, along with a couple actors portraying April and Shredder. Were the artists unable to draw convincing human characters or did they think these photo actors would make the appearance of the game all the more impressive? Perhaps it was simply too hard to find the real ninja turtles for a photo shoot? Only Master Splinter knows such ancient secrets. I'm sure that this machine was the start of a highly lucrative modeling career for the girl who posed as April too. Either way, it was a big, bright arcade machine that drew in gamers like pizza draws in turtles. Ninja turtles.
I thought the 'Addams Family Generator' Looked pretty nifty in the arcade. It was the first thing I was drawn to when I saw it there anyway. I gotta say the vibration didn't feel like shit though. It was pretty fun to piss about with though.
I loved this article simply for the nostalgia of the arcade. A damn dirty shame that they're becoming more and more extinct these days. All well. On a different note, I'd love for somebody to get a snapshot of the original Splatterhouse arcade cabinet and post it, simply to see what the game that continually kicks my ass looked like in arcades.
|Well done - what a splendid article written by two nice young men.I distinctly remember the Time Traveler "hologram" game. This was the ultimate excitement for me as a 13-year old boy, even if they weren't real holograms. I also had weird demonic action figure toys that had removable souls with holographic images. The packaging warned not to immerse the toys in water, which of course I did, in the bathtub, to see if the demonic spirit would be released from his plastic prison. Does anybody else remember these toys? I've forgotten what they were called.|
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