On my last post, I went over the first half of my TOP 10 games in the arcade so now I'll lay out the real hot tickets. My TOP 5 machines and where you are most likely to find me if I've got some down time. These are the machines I don't get tired of playing and no matter the sequel, reboot, etc., I'm always having a great time.
5. Karate Champ
Each player has two joysticks, one to take in each hand. By maneuvering the joysticks in different directions (i.e. L+R, L+U, D+D, etc.), your character will output different moves. Instead of a health bar, there is a referee that will award a point or half a point depending on a successful hit which will end the round and the first player to score 2 points will win. To folks that play fighting games regularly, it might feel a bit alien, but as someone that is pretty awful at fighting games, I find it really strategic and comfortable.
This game makes it into my TOP5 because of the unique controls and the learning curve. The long list of moves available make the game very interesting and the need to learn them through practice is a great quality in an arcade game. It keeps you coming back and keeps you interested. There's nothing wild or flashy going on in this game because it doesn't need it. You're focused on you and your opponent so the elementary graphics fit well into the gameplay. Even the movements of the characters seem purposeful and powerful.
Playing through the game solo is a good time and I would recommend it, but playing with a friend is always better, in my honest opinion. You're both learning the game together and a human is much less predicable than a computer. Plus, celebrating a victory or suffering a loss is much more enjoyable with a friend.
4. Initial D
Unlike your typical racing driver, in which you are driving around a somewhat straight or circular track, Initial D tosses you onto the side of a mountain somewhere in Japan and you are suddenly in the story arch of a teenage boy/girl street racing. The skill lies more in drifting than speed. Going up or down the mountain, the road twists and turns sharply and you have to be careful not to slam straight into a guard rail or crowd. Each track/setting has it's own song but they are all incredibly upbeat and very "Initial D".
The version we have on the floor currently released in 2003/2004 but it's still loved and played as if it was just released last year. This is a game you can always come back to and get better at, either solo or with a friend. From an operator perspective, this game is an absolute nightmare to work on. It's a Naomi 2 boardset and it dies all the time for no good rhyme or reason. What's wrong with it? ~shrug~ Why did it stop working? ~shrug~ This is a game we've had to repair many, many times, but luckily, we love it enough to keep doing so.
Initial D will always stay in my TOP5 because of it's back story, great game play, and honestly, great music. We do have plans for our Initial D machine in the very near future, so be on the look-out. I think you will all be pleasantly surprised!
3. Dance Dance Revolution
Dance Dance Revolution is a rhythm game in which the goal is to step on directional arrows as indicated by the game in time to music. The cabinet is complete with a small stage where you play/dance and a large CRT monitor where the directions are given as an overlay to some background images of your avatar dancing. Each correct step lands you points, and depending on timing, you are awarded more or less points. If you continue to step correctly without losing a beat, you can build up your combo and multiply your points. There is a type of "health" meter that must be monitored. Too many missteps, the meter falls, and you fail the song.
DDR is high on my list of favorites for a variety of reasons. To start, it's just fun to play. You'll always find songs you like, no matter the version. We have SuperNova2 on the floor, but my holy grail is to own the Disney DDR board so I can stomp my way to glory while Mickey scratches records. It's also fun to watch. If the person playing is REALLY good, great! You can stand back and wonder how they get their feet to do that. If the person has no idea what they are doing, good! You both get to laugh together about how absurd of game this really is. The community is great too. And yes, there is a DDR community and they've been around a long time. They are very welcoming, they are happy to teach you things, and they are amazing to watch. I will say, from an operator's point of view, that machine isn't great to work on. The pads have spacers that get stomped into nothing regularly and need replaced, the neons are hard to find if they need replaced (and expensive), and the monitor is fairly large. But, like Initial D, it's a really good game and we're always willing to put in the work (and you easily find the operators that don't feel the same and don't put in as much love).
So next time you are thinking about stepping up on a DDR machine but you're worried about looking silly, don't worry, we all start there and we all still look a little silly. It's a silly game with wild music and flashy lights. Just find the confidence in yourself to love your silliness and you'll find yourself enjoying this game as much as the next person.
2. Jurassic park -motion theater-
This game is a type of rail gun game that uses joysticks instead of guns for shooting (tranquilizing, according to the game instructions) dinosaurs that are all out to attack you as you drive by in the Jeep. What really stood out about this game were the pneumatics in the seat that simulated the movement of the Jeep you were riding in. So when you were driving over a bumpy road, you felt it and when a dinosaur slammed into your car, you felt it.
Jurassic Park is one of my absolute favorite games for the game play and seat mechanics. The graphics are so nostalgic and the wide array of dinosaurs that are chucked at you keeps the game interesting. The joystick is much more comfortable for me than a plastic gun and you can just hold the trigger down for a constant stream of ...tranquilizer darts... rather than worrying about reloading off screen. The music and sound effects are all spot on from the movie (in 16 bit of course) to really bring you into the scene. I do have to say, my biggest complaint about this game comes from an operator perspective: it's awful to work on. The seat pneumatics are goofy and don't want to talk to the board, especially after almost 30 years. Our machine was working just fine until we moved it, now it only works when it feels like it. So sassy.
If you want to be propelled back into the 90's, play this game. If you ever loved Jurassic Park as much as I believe you did, play this game. If you believe the Jurassic Park remakes are garbage, play this game. If you've already played this game, bring a friend and play it again.
1. Lunar Lander
I can't emphasize how sad this is. Lunar Lander is a type of simulation game. You are the pilot of landing module and your mission is to land as softly on the moon as possible. There are a few details regarding your module that are reported that you must keep track of, including your fuel level, speed, etc. You must also consider how gravity effects you (something that can be changed based on the difficulty you choose). Of course, the surface of the moon is not smooth and you must watch for jagged mountains and deep valleys. The game will prompt you with landing spots and each spot is worth a certain amount of points. You can get more or less points depending on how hard or softly you land (or crash). Your controller is a thruster that will propel your module forward, but also burns through fuel. If you get in a pinch and are coming too close to crashing, there is an emergency "ABORT" button that will propel you straight up, but also burns up a significant amount of fuel. The monitor is a black and white vector screen and the landscape is outlined as a white line.
The very first time I came across this machine was at Galloping Ghost arcade in Chicago. A man was playing it and he was really frustrated with it. He said it was unnecessarily hard and walked away. I tried it, and landed! I tried it again, landed again. People came by and my husband took a video to send to our other arcade friend. Everyone says this is a very hard arcade game, but I honestly believe you just have to be in the right mindset and look at it for what it is - a simulation game. Consider your resources, plan your future wisely, and move accordingly. I love nothing more than burying my head into the cabinet and closing off the world. Lunar Lander is a quiet realm where, if you concentrate enough, all you can hear is your breathing and the sound of the thrusters. I really hate that these machines were cannibalized for a game I think is overrated.
You'll notice my Lunar Lander is currently missing from the floor and we can all thank UPS for that. We sent the monitor chassis through UPS for repair and they immediately lost it. So until we are able to come up with a replacement, it will be await repair. Lunar Lander - the game that can't catch a break!
My name is Phylicia! I also go by Arcade Empress if you find me online in games or other forums. I am the Empress of Boss Battle Games (I'm serious, it's my legal title!) and wife/best friend to Dustin/Zoex/Emperor of Boss Battle Games. Together, we've been cutting years off our life to keep this arcade running as smoothly as possible and while growing it and adding new and exciting things.