My Top 5 Retro Arcade Games
Being a 37 year old male, it’s safe to say I have sampled most of what the gaming world has had to offer. NOW, I won’t be including games like Space Invaders or Pac-man as they have there own place in the history books. This article is about the games that caught a young, impressionable Redhotbear’s imagination, and set him (i.e.. – me) on the path that I have walked ever since.
So, to kick us off on this nostalgic look back on when we could play our favourite for as little as 10p, (YES KIDS, GOOGLE IT, IT’S TRUE!) at Number 5 is…
MIDNIGHT RESISTANCE – 1989 – DATA EAST
The first thing that struck me about the game had nothing to do with the game itself, but rather the strange looking joystick that not only moved in the traditional 8 directions, but also twisted around a full 360 degrees. Once I popped in my 20p and pressed the P1 START button (god I miss that) it all became apparent why I needed to be able to shoot in any direction, while jumping in the opposite direction to avoid being hit by enemy fire. You play as Johnny Ford, a Special Forces soldier tasked to rescue his family before they succumb to the evil plans of King Crimson
WEIRD TWISTY JOYSTICK
As long as you collected the special “keys” dropped by the usual differently coloured enemy soldier, you could treat yourself to some Homing Missiles, Shotguns or a 3-Way (Steady now!) scatter-shot. These keys also played a vital part of the final encounter with King Crimson and the amount held by you and/or your co-op partner, as these keys unlocked your family members
Next up on the countdown, is a game most teenagers have probably never heard of. Which is a rotten shame, because without it, their would be no Call Of Duty. Presenting your Number 4…
OPERATION WOLF – 1987 – TAITO
I adored this game growing up! Coming out at a time where Hollywood was beginning to saturate the cinemas with the latest instalment of another “ONE MAN ARMY YADDA YADDA YADDA” and now, you could be that guy, YOU COULD BE THE HERO. Well, you could if a 9 year old me could properly see over the rather nicely designed (and properly heavy) replica Uzi 9mm…admit it, you read that last bit in Arnie’s voice
You have limited ammo and grenades, but these can be replenished by shooting barrels and crates, and also you can top up your health by shooting pigs and chickens, because nothing gives you an energy boost like raw chicken and bacon. Progression through the levels advances the game, pretty standard stuff really, but to help you out a bit, power ups are available such as O.P weapons, higher fire rate and unlimited ammo (for a short amount of time). As far as I’m aware, this is the first FPS to my knowledge and it certainly paved the way for modern day FPS’s, and without Operation Wolf, I would never have found the SBS Gaming Community.
Screeching into number 3, is an absolute gem of a game, Sega’s iconic OUT RUN.
OUT RUN – SEGA – 1986
This was a massive critical and commercial success for Sega. It always makes me think of family holidays at Butlins and Haven, pumping pounds upon pounds trying to make it to the end. If I’m honest, I wasn’t that bothered about making it to the end. All I wanted to do was listen the smooth sounds that is chosen from the in-game car radio, for which you had 3 channels to chose from. Passing Breeze, Splash Wave and my personal favourite, Mechanical Sound Shower
In order to progress, you have to reach the check point before then timer reaches zero, but before that happens, you have to make a choice, LEFT OR RIGHT. With five possible route destinations, making you chose left or right before the end of that particular stage could be more stressful than the actual countdown edging closer to the dreaded GAME OVER screen. The big selling point for a young RHB (me) was the fact that if I was lucky enough to find it, there was a sit down version of the game, which just added more to the game-play experience as the speakers where strategically placed right behind your ears, so it really threw you into the game.
Swinging his way in at Number 2, join Sir Arthur as he battles zombies, demons, ogres and the likes as he tries to rescue Princess Prin Prin for the claws of Satan himself in Ghosts and Goblins
Just the sheer amounts of money I shelled out on this game over the years is mind boggling and I still couldn’t get past the second stage. It was rear I got past the end of stage one. A super hard game to say the least as you only had to be hit twice before you lost your life, but if you managed to get to the end and defeat the boss, unless you defeated him with the Cross weapon, you didn’t beat the game and had to return to the beginning of level 5 and do it again…how harsh is that?
CAN ANYBODY SPOT THE MISTAKE???
I’m not sure whether or not I loved the game or the heroic score played in the background, but even to this day, seeing a screenshot or hearing the opening to the levels takes me back to the Orrell Park youth club, where I patiently huddled around the machine, eagerly awaiting my turn.
And so to round off this inaugural countdown and trip down memory lane, we arrive at the number 1 slot….
A LONG TIME AGO, IN AN ARCADE FAR, FAR AWAY!
STAR WARS – ATARI – 1983
Imagine being 5 years old, you have just discovered Star Wars then suddenly you a hear a plink plink version of a very familiar theme tune. You tune around and to your amazement, you see THIS! You would flip your lid, I did.
Ok, graphically by today’s standards, it’s as basic as can be, but in 1983, you WERE in an X-Wing Fighter, that WAS the Death Star blowing up and the dogfights were real. It had the digitised voices of all the films lead characters such as Han, Luke, Obi-Wan and Vader.
STAY ON TARGET!!!!
The game-play was super fluid from what I remember and I’ve lost count of the amount of hours lost on this game…so much so, when we would go on family holidays, my mum would leave me alone in the arcades with a fist full of 10 pence pieces, knowing the galaxy was safe in the hands of the meanest 5 year old since the pod-racing Anakin Skywalker came along.
USE THE FORCE LUKE!
Once you made it to the end of the trench and shot the exhaust port, the Death Star exploded with a fit-inducing strobe effect, only for you to start all over again but with a higher difficulty, it didn’t matter though, IT WAS STAR WARS!
I do hope that you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane…if you have any opinions you wish to share, feel free to do so, leave a comment in the comments section, or you can get me on twitter @redhotbear .