Home GamingBest Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
GamingBy Joe Burgett -

Growing up in the 1990s, many of us were alive in the era of arcade gaming. Whether it was at a local mall, skating rink, movie theater, or its own standalone arcade…we played some of the best games ever. Many of those arcade games have since been ported out to several video game consoles. Yet before the major console era, arcades were packed with people wanting to enjoy the best arcade games of our time. In fact, before Nintendo and Atari really pushed games out onto their now infamous early consoles, a lot of games were tested out in arcades.

It was much cheaper to do because you could see how people were reacting to a smaller version of a game. Plus, you only had to make a select few arcade machines versus the thousands of game copies that may or may not sell. This led to several now-iconic characters starting out in the arcade, making us love to spend all of our allowance playing them. Some games never left the arcade and can still be played in some arcades around the United States and Japan to this very day. This list will involve the best arcade games ever, and we’ll even let you know if these games can still be found. Enjoy!

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via EA Sports]

NFL Blitz

  • Debut: 1997

NFL Blitz was developed by Midway Games, and initially debuted in 1997 in the arcade world. It would soon move to things like the Gameboy, Nintendo 64, and original Playstation by 1998 though. While this game did have a lot of the current players from the NFL’s 1997-1998 teams, it was not designed to be an accurate simulation of a real football game. It was made to be over the top and crazy, allowing it to stand out from Madden and other football games of the time. In the arcade, one usually was able to play at least one game against either another player or the computer. Today, arcade machines with the original NFL Blitz on them can sell for up to $5,000!! That is no surprise since it is one of the best arcade games of the 1990s.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Midway Games]

Cruis’n USA and Cruis’n World

  • Debut: 1994 & 1996

It was hard for us to pick between these two, as they are essentially the same game with different locations to race on. The original Cruis’n USA video game became a massive hit in arcades across America. Thus, a few years later the Cruis’n World version hit arcades. Some kept both around since they typically did good business and allowed for more people to play. The games are as they sound. You’re driving, using a built-in steering wheel and peddles, in a race against the computer. If there was another machine, it could be connected to allow you to race against friends or other players. While Cruis’n World was eventually ported out to the Nintendo 64 by the late 1990s, it remained in arcades for several years to come.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Nintendo]

Punch-Out!

  • Debut: 1984

You likely know of the Punch-Out game series, but probably mostly the Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out version. However, this was an entire franchise that was massive in the 1980s and even the 1990s. The original Punch-Out was released in arcades by 1984 and became an instant “hit” in arcades across the United States. That led to the development of others, including the Mike Tyson version. Due to its massive popularity, Nintendo then added it to the Super Nintendo console along with a sequel in the mid-1990s. However, the original Punch-Out as well as the Mike Tyson version remained in arcades throughout the 1990s. Leading it to become one of the best arcade games of all time.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Capcom]

Street Fighter II: The World Warrior

  • Debut: 1991

The Street Fighter franchise is one of the biggest fighting video game franchises in history. It is now part of the E-Sports community of games and has become incredibly popular among gamers worldwide. The original game hit arcades in the late 1980s but Street Fighter II came in 1991. This was the very first one-on-one fighting game to give players a choice in characters that each had different move-sets. They had at least 30 unique moves for each character, which was revolutionary for its time. Today, some people still play Street Fighter games on consoles using arcade-style controllers as it was meant to be the perfect fighting game for the arcade world. Capcom truly outdid themselves with Street Fighter II, but they were far from done making iconic games.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Midway Games]

Rampage

  • Debut: 1986

Yes, that movie with Dwayne Johnson about the giant white ape was actually a movie based on an arcade game. The Rampage arcade game was very popular, especially among teenage male gamers. While the original game was released in the late 1980s, it became such a giant hit that early consoles began porting it over to their systems. That includes the Apple II, Commodore 64, and several Atari consoles. However, it remained in arcades throughout the 1990s. Usually, it was a solid hit for gamers. The game was all about humans that turned into monsters, with George the King Kong-like ape, being the main character of three versions players could play. You could climb buildings, and essentially destroy cities. Including helicopters, tanks, and take-out military members trying to put you down.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via SEGA]

Virtua Cop 2

  • Debut: 1995

Virtua Cop 2 was a really interesting game developed by the AM2 studio at SEGA. The developers at SEGA felt that they needed to do what Nintendo did before and test out games in arcades first. While some games were complete in arcades, others acted as test subjects. Virtua Cop 2 was essentially complete before SEGA ported it over to their Saturn console. This game was known as a light gun shooter, as players would actually hold a gun attached to the arcade and shoot at enemies when needed. Players can choose one of three players to be in the game, and merely need to stay alive to make it through levels. Any death instantly caused you to put in more money, which made arcades a lot of money. The game was very popular in the 1990s, making it one of the best arcade games ever.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Bandai-Namco]

Time Crisis

  • Debut: 1995

Namco’s Time Crisis games have become cult classics on consoles today, but the original technically became a hit in the arcade first. The original Time Crisis was just a first-person “shoot’em up.” These games tend to have no real rhyme or reason to shoot, but you must do a lot of that in order to progress in the game. Obviously, the arcades supplied arcade guns as controls. The original game became a hit on this method, but later games put some emphasis on the story seeing as they were then on consoles. Time Crisis was revolutionary compared to other light shooters, as you could duck or dodge attacks and reload your character’s weapon. They also introduced clock challenges with their battles, making you complete levels in a specific period of time.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Konami Games]

Frogger

  • Debut: 1981

The original Frogger game was developed by Konami and manufactured by SEGA. Back in 1981, both companies were still getting their bearings on the video game world. Yet everyone knew arcades were a big deal as early consoles weren’t quite where they needed to be. Frogger was a massive success in arcades because both young kids and teens could play and enjoy it. The object of the game is simple. Direct frogs to their homes over busy roads and around hazards in the water. The premise was simple and the game was a hit, leading to several ports of the original. Eventually, entirely new Frogger games were developed for 1990s consoles like the original Playstation. Yet Frogger remained a major fixture in arcades throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Bandai-Namco]

Tekken

  • Debut: 1994

Tekken is also a massively successful fighting video game franchise. They take most of their cues from Japanese culture, which is why most of the designs and characters often have a distinct Japanese connection. One of the things you should know is that Bandai Namco Studios has released every single Tekken game on an arcade system. They began with the first in 1994 on the Namco System 11. Today, they are on the Namco System ES3. These arcades can be purchased by anyone too. The original Tekken was a massive success in arcades and led to several ports to consoles. The original Tekken actually displayed the nations where battles took place, all real places. Later Tekken games used fictional places though. Due to still going on arcade systems, Tekken is clearly one of the best arcade games ever.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Midway Games]

NBA Jam

  • Debut: 1993

Both NFL Blitz and NBA Jam had the same idea in mind. Give you an over-the-top gaming experience using real-world players. In NBA Jam, most of the incarnations of the series involved two or three players on any team at a time rather than the regular five you’ll see in real life. Although, they did work with five in later versions of the series. Obviously, one could shoot with the players but the big thing that made it famous was the absolutely INSANE dunks. Your player would go up 40 feet in the air to slam down on the 10-foot-tall basket. It first began in arcades in 1993 and would end up on consoles soon after. However, it remained a staple in arcade venues for many years throughout the 1990s. Making it one of the best arcade games of its era.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Konami Games]

Lethal Enforcers

  • Debut: 1992

Developed by Konami, Lethal Enforcers was introduced to arcades in 1992. The graphics for the game were quite unique, as they relied entirely on digitized photographs and sprites. It was a massive success, ranking in the top five highest-grossing arcade games of 1993 in the United States. The real problem with the game was the decision to use photorealistic people. As players must shoot those people in the game, thereby sort of simulating real-life gun violence. In spite of this, Lethal Enforcers was so successful, that various sequels came out. Of course, most ended up on home consoles. Yet for its time, Lethal Enforcers was one of the best arcade games out there. As it was a huge hit everywhere it was installed.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via SEGA]

Daytona USA

  • Debut: 1993

We can say for certain that this game can still be found in some arcades across the United States today. If not the original, certainly an updated version. In the early 1990s, NASCAR was becoming a pretty successful sport. Not only were fans in the U.S. compelled by it, but some Asian countries were as well. When Daytona USA was being developed by SEGA, it was actually tested on a Japanese audience first. Eventually, a full arcade version came out in the U.S. and became a huge hit. Based on the famous Daytona 500 race, players drove stock cars, attempting to win races. The graphics were revolutionary for an arcade game, even using a 60-bits-per-second frame rate. Unheard of for most arcade games in the 1990s. Making it one of the best arcade games of the 1990s or in any era.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Konami Games]

Sunset Riders

  • Debut: 1991

The Sunset Riders game was one of the biggest and best arcade games of all time. Initially, the game was coin-operated like most other arcade games. But the reason for this was that Konami knew arcade games like this would put so much in a person’s path that they’d be gunned down in the game often. This was a side-scrolling run-and-gun shooter game. Thus, you were constantly being shot at as much as shooting others. People would get addicted to achieving the in-game goals, and constantly put money in the machine. Though something like it was already around, this game would eat your money quite often. Set in the American Old West, you’re playing as a bounty hunter. Yet the game works with one to four players, each facing the same conditions. The game was also recently revived for the Switch and PS4.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Bandai-Namco]

Soulcalibur

  • Debut: 1995

Soulcalibur might not be as legendary as some other fighting game franchises, but it is still one of the most nostalgic and beloved in history. The original Soulcalibur game was actually called “Soul Edge” and was a massive hit in arcades across America and Japan when released in 1995. The Soulcalibur game was technically the name of the sequel but was so well-liked that it became the name of the series going forward. The original games and those that followed focused on using a historic fantasy concept. Where all weapons and attire, though over the top, were inspired by 16th to 17th-century weapons and gear. The “evil” weapon of the series, Soul Edge, is wielded usually by a boss in the game. It has to eventually face off with someone using the Soul Calibur weapon that you play as.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Konami Games]

X-Men: The Arcade Game

  • Debut: 1992

Talk about one of the best arcade games, right? This game is STILL legendary, with many trying to buy the full arcade version of the game. It is a huge collector’s item for gamers as well as comic book fans. Based on the 1989 animated series, X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men, the X-Men arcade game came out in 1992. The goal of the game is to defeat Magneto, and you can use up to six players to accomplish this mission. Players can play as either Cyclops, Colossus, Storm, Nightcrawler, Dazzler, or Wolverine. While you will fight several Sentinels along the way, players will also face off with Pyro, Wendigo, Nimrod, Blob, The White Queen, Juggernaut, and Mystique before taking on Magneto. The game has won several awards for the technology developers used and made arcades A LOT of money.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via SEGA]

House of the Dead 2

  • Debut: 1998

The original House of the Dead arcade game was a big success, making the sequel highly anticipated. It exceeded all previous expectations. Sequels are seldom better than the original, but HOTD 2 certainly was. It landed in arcades in late 1998 and was an instant hit among gamers. Made by SEGA, they let it breathe in arcades to see how it would do before eventually deciding to release it on their consoles the following year. It even ended up on Microsoft Windows in 2001, and eventually the third would be released on the Xbox. Yet none of that would have been possible if House of the Dead 2 did not have great success in the arcades first.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Williams Electronics Games]

Smash TV

  • Debut: 1990

Williams Electronics Games, a relative unknown in gaming before this, formed Smash TV. Specifically, it was developed by Eugene Jarvis and Mark Turmell. It was an inventive dual-stick shooter. One of the sticks was for moving and avoiding enemies while the other stick was meant for firing. The game focused on a dystopian television show, which took place in the “then-future” of 1999. Players will play as one of the lucky contestants who must shoot their way to fame and fortune. The entire show is broadcast in front of a live audience and broadcast worldwide. It was essentially a video game version of Hunger Games. The game is “kill or be killed,” and once a contestant is left in each arena, they move on to the next and attempt to survive that gauntlet of contestants.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Rare Limited]

Killer Instinct

  • Debut: 1994

While the game would be ported to other systems and published by many major companies, it was originally a huge success in the arcade. Originally developed by Rare Limited and published by Midway Games, Killer Instinct was an arcade fighting game. While it was sort of lost among the other major fighting games of the 1990s, it still stood out as one of the best arcade games of its time. The game did borrow a combat system similar to Street Fighter, many feel it inspired a lot of the “finish him” moves used in Mortal Kombat games. Thus making it a valuable asset to fighting games overall. While it did hit home consoles within a year of its arcade release, Killer Instinct remained in many arcades throughout the rest of the 1990s.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Konami Games]

Contra

  • Debut: 1986

While Konami made a lot of the early 1980s and 1990s arcade games you know and love, Contra is considered to be one of their best. It first came out in arcades back in 1986 and was then ported to the Super Nintendo by 1988. However, due to the wild success it had in arcades, most kept it around throughout the 1990s. Making it a game that gamers would pay money to play in spite of the home console version. Contra was a simple run-and-gun shooter. Some of the characters had a Rambo vibe about them, with similar attire to the famous character. It made sense, as Rambo was a huge 1980s film series. Plus, this game offered a unique opportunity to play in standard or a pseudo-30 view. Where you could get pretty immersed in the early gaming world.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via SEGA]

Star Wars Trilogy Arcade

  • Debut: 1998

The original Star Wars Arcade game came out in 1993 to great success. By 1998 there was a mission to go even further. Thus, SEGA decided to make the Star Wars Trilogy Arcade game. While that might make some assume it was the “third” game in the series, it was only the second. However, it focused on all three of the original Star Wars movies. Many might assume that being a Star Wars game, it would involve a lot of lightsaber battles and force attacks. Rather, this was a shoot ’em up game. Your battles were really as a member of the resistance ground forces, where you’d take on a lot of stormtroopers. In spite of this, the game was a ton of fun to play. Making it one of the best arcade games of its time.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via SEGA]

Spider-Man: The Video Game

  • Debut: 1991

Unlike other early video games inspired by the web-slinger’s shows or movies, Spider-Man: The Video Game was an arcade game simply inspired by the character himself. While it might seem odd, this was not just a one-player game. Up to four players could play at one time. Of course, only one person could play at Spidey and anyone else playing could choose to play as Black Cat, Hawkeye, and Namor the Submariner. To this day, it has been rare these characters really interacted all that much outside Spider-Man and Black Cat. Throughout the game, you’ll take on various villains across four acts of the game. That includes Kingpin, Doctor Octopus, Electro, Lizard, Scorpion, Sandman, Green Goblin, Hobgoblin, and Venom along with his symbiote clones. The final boss was always Doctor Doom though.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Midway Games]

Primal Rage

  • Debut: 1994

By the mid-1990s, Atari stopped focusing on their own consoles as they turned to focus on developing video games only. Primal Rage proved their gamble was a good one, as they released this game in 1994 for arcades to critical and financial success. The game is set in a post-apocalyptic version of Earth called “Urth.” You as the player will control one of several unique, large beasts. Each will battle the other to determine the planet’s fate. Of course, this fighting game is similar to others in its genre. What made it a little more unique were the extremely gory finishing moves. While porting did happen to home consoles, no one could port a perfect arcade version. That was due to a unique copy protection method Atari used on the game.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Bandai-Namco]

Galaga

  • Debut: 1981

Galaga is one of the most historic and notable early arcade games. It was initially released in 1981 to wild success and was routinely seen in arcades across America and Japan until the late 1980s. However, it still managed to stick around at several arcades in the 1990s too. It stuck around so long, in fact, it also became one of the best arcade games of the 1990s as well. Namco essentially developed and published the game in Japan, but Midway Games published it in America. It became Namco’s first major success in the video game industry, which they’d go on to be a major player in. The game was simple. Players operated a starship and were tasked with destroying as many Galaga Force ships as possible in each stage, all while avoiding enemy attacks.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via SEGA]

Virtua Fighter

  • Debut: 1993

While it was not the greatest game ever invented, Virtua Fighter deserves some recognition. Without this game, the gaming world would never be the same. While it was released in 1993, it did several amazing “firsts” never before seen in arcade fighting games. It was the very first completely 3D fighting game ever made. The team at SEGA actually worked with a smaller aircraft tech company on aerospace simulation technology for the game. That company went on to become Lockheed Martin, we’re totally serious. Due to the amazing work of the polygon-based game, Sony was inspired to create the first PlayStation console to focus on these newer 3D games. Weirdly, SEGA was not focusing on these 3D games for their Saturn console so Sony found their niche and went with it.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Bandai-Namco]

Aqua Jet

  • Debut: 1996

You’d be surprised how long-lasting a game like Aqua Jet has become. Namco released the game in 1996, where it became a hit that stood the test of time in arcades. Most of the time, an arcade would have some sort of video game version of a Seadoo for you to operate as you played the game. Due to coming out in 1996, gaming had already gotten to the point where a game could be completely 3D with its graphics. However, they also tried to make the operation of your Seadoo true to life (as one could). Aqua Jet as a game was pretty simple. You operated your Seadoo controller in a race on the water where you’d be able to hit ramps for specific awards. The goal is to win the race, but the course allowed you to kinda take your own path to get there.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Capcom]

Marvel vs Capcom: Clash of Super-Heroes

  • Debut: 1998

The original Marvel vs Capcom game crossover was pretty big. Iconic characters from Marvel Comics would face off with the iconic characters from Capcom. All in a fighting game, one on one. It was released in both Japanese and American arcades in 1998 after a previous title succeeded so well. That was the Marvel vs Street Fighter arcade game. Capcom felt that if that game could do well, including other major Capcom characters would only be even better. They were right! This still holds up as one of the best arcade games of all time. On the Marvel side, you could play as Captain America, Gambit, Hulk, Spider-Man, Venom, War Machine, or Wolverine. For Capcom, you could play as Captain Commando, Chun-Li, Jin Saotome, Mega Man, Morrigan Aensland, Ryu, Strider Hiryu, or Zangief.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Atari Games]

Area 51

  • Debut: 1995

Atari Games did not stop with some of their other games. In 1995, they released Area 51. At the time, it was not thought to be something that would be a hit. In fact, it was often slammed by critics who knew Atari was in a last-ditch attempt to stay alive. Thus made a thrown-together game that didn’t land. A lot of other light gun games had been released by then that was thought to be better. However, Area 51 landed very well with gamers across most American arcades. In fact, it ended up becoming a now-iconic hit, and one of the best arcade games of the 1990s as a result. The game’s story is clear. You’re part of the Strategic Tactical Advanced Alien Response (STARR) military. Your job is to rid the Area 51 facility of the zombies, created by the Kronn alien race.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Capcom]

Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters

  • Debut: 1996

Most know of the Mega Man franchise being on the Gameboy. They were handheld consoles made by Nintendo that were a massive hit in the 1990s and early 2000s right alongside Nintendo’s regular home consoles. There were several Mega Man games, including the big arcade hit known as Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters. Not to be confused with the mainline sequel to Capcom’s original Mega Man game. Those were strict releases to home consoles. Power Fighters happened to be an arcade release to keep Mega Man relevant among gamers, who were often found in arcades obviously. The second Power Fighters game was a major hit in Japan and eventually came to American arcades where it was also successful. It has since been ported to MANY consoles.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via SEGA]

Crazy Taxi

  • Debut: 1999

If you never played Crazy Taxi in the arcade as a kid, we feel bad for you. It was always one of the most beloved games there, especially since the arcade version allows you to use a steering wheel and normal gas/brake pedals. It just makes our cut because it hit arcades in early 1999 before being so popular that it was ported out to every home console of the generation by 2000. Developed by SEGA, it ended up going onto the Dreamcast system by 2000 and became the third highest-selling game on the console. The object of this game is simple. You operate as a taxi driver who must get their customers to their desired destination in a specific period of time. Various obstacles will prevent you from doing this, so you must do everything in your power to get to your destination in spite of them.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Nintendo]

Donkey Kong

  • Debut: 1981 to 1985

When we reference Donkey Kong here, we want to make it clear that we’re referring to most of the early Donkey Kong games. Nearly all of them were strictly in the arcade for years before ever arriving on home consoles. The original came out in 1981, with a series of these games coming out in the early 1980s too. But after 1985, only those games were in the arcade. By the time the series came back in the mid-1990s, he had gone to console only. Yet we had DK games all over the arcade throughout the early 1990s because the early 1980s versions still held up so well. They are still among the best arcade games ever made, and many hold up today.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Taito]

Space Invaders

  • Debut: 1978

Certainly, the oldest arcade game on this list, Space Invaders came out in 1978. By the 1980s, this game was able to bring in billions, unheard of for games like this. One would assume if this game came out in 1978 and was a huge hit in the 1980s…why is it part of the 1990s list? Good question. However, you should be aware that this game has been in arcades all over the world for such a long time, making so much money, that no one ever thought to remove it in the 1990s. Thus, it remained a solid hit in arcades in the 1990s too. The game was a simple shoot ’em up where you took down other spaceships. It might be one of the best arcade games ever, but it was also the very first fixed shooter game too.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Bandai-Namco]

Pac-Man

  • Debut: 1980

Like so many other games on this list, the start of Pac-Man might have happened in the 1980s. However, it remained a major arcade game even until the 2000s. That is mostly due to the various sequels that came to the arcade all throughout the 80s and 90s. People would literally pay to play this game in spite of it being offered for free on their home computers in the 2000s. You can even still find it in many standalone American or Japanese arcades today. It is incredibly hard to put into words just how valuable Pac-Man was and still is to gaming history. It is incredibly addictive, easy enough for anyone to play, and can be loved by non-gamers too.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Bandai-Namco]

Ms. Pac-Man

  • Debut: 1982

When research was done about the original Pac-Man game, it was found that female gamers absolutely loved it. In fact, throughout some arcades, those playing this game were more often women. Thus, for a spin-off sequel to Namco’s Pac-Man…the good people at the General Computer Corporation decided to make Ms. Pac-Man. Notice that for a second, not “Mrs.” but “Ms.” Though it was displayed that she was Pac-Man’s wife, the makers did not want to make the game come off like she was some sort of side character. The game mechanics were vastly improved, and this game became just as if not more fun than the original. Starting a big new franchise of its own. Making it, too, one of the best arcade games of all time.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Capcom]

Street Fighter Alpha 3

  • Debut: 1998

All of the Street Fighter games tend to be impressive. Yet the first to really stand out as legendary had to be Street Fighter Alpha 3. While Capcom originally released it in Japan and Southeast Asia, along with Oceania in 1998….it eventually made it over to the United States. Arcades all over were packed with people wanting to play the game. It became such a huge hit that the game was ported out to home consoles almost as soon as it made it in the arcade. In spite of this, gamers loved the chance to battle others at a central location. This game along with a few others helped to start the tournament trend as an early E-Sports concept.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Polygon]

Dance Dance Revolution

  • Debut: 1998

You might be surprised to learn that Dance Dance Revolution was a 1990s game. Konomi released the first one to arcades in 1998, and it has been a staple in most arcades ever since. The cool part for arcades is that they can have a dance floor that will be compatible with all the newer versions of the series. Thus, arcades can keep updating to get the newest of the series without having to buy brand new machines. At least, most of the time. While Dance Dance Revolution has also become a home game, it will always be one of the best arcade games in history. Especially since it is still quite popular in arcades all over the place.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image from NetherRealm Studios]

Mortal Kombat

  • Debut: 1992

Mortal Kombat is one of the most popular gaming franchises in history. While several ended up going straight to home consoles, the originals all came out in arcades across the United States and Japan. The very first one was released in 1992. It made history very early on in several ways. Due to its graphic violence, it was often assumed to be the reason for teen violence across America. On top of this, MK was the very first game to have a “secret fighter” that you could get as the player if you did all the game requirements. The MK franchise is very deep at this point, but it all began in the arcades. Most of their games were massive hits at the arcade, giving them the honor of being one of the best arcade games around with every new release.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Nintendo]

Mario Bros.

  • Debut: 1983

Every Mario game tends to be impressive and very well made. Nintendo always knew how to make a great series of games and it shows with Mario. The very first game hit arcades in 1983. Eventually, Mario Bros. as a franchise kept expanding. Several new arcade games came out in the 1980s and 1990s. However, once Nintendo had their infamous consoles, they often release the Mario games there around the same time as the arcade versions. That said, each Mario game was usually among the best arcade games of its time. They were always major hits for arcades and made people want to keep coming back to play.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Capcom]

X-Men: Children of the Atom

  • Debut: 1995 & 1996

One of the single best arcade games in history, X-Men: Children of the Atom was based on the popular X-Men comic books of the time. Capcom decided to first release it in Japan in 1994, then it made it into American and European arcades by 1995. Almost immediately upon arrival, it was one of the most popular games at arcades. While there would be console versions of the game, the arcade controls and experience made people keep coming back to blow through their quarters. In this game, you could be either a member of the X-Men or a villain. Among the characters, you could choose: Iceman, Psylocke, Colossus, Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine, Silver Samurai, Omega Red, Sentinel, Spiral, Juggernaut, or Magneto.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[Image via Konami Games]

The Simpsons

  • Debut: 1991

In the early 1990s, The Simpsons shook the television world with its adult-targeted animated wit. While it did go over the top sometimes, the show eventually became more family-friendly and has remained that way ever since. The popularity of the show resulted in Konami making an arcade about this family of four. You get to play as either Homer, Marge, Lisa, or Bart as they searched for a kidnapped Maggie in the game. This game has won a slew of awards and sold tons of machines due to its popularity, making it one of the best arcade games ever, hands down.

Best Arcade Games That 1990s Kids Remember Playing
[image via Konami Games]

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time

  • Debut: 1991

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles actually began as a comic book series, but the popularity for the group truly came through its animated shows and movies along with the original live-action films. The Turtles in Time game was based on the comic series and some of the animated stuff. It had a pretty cool story from the start too. We find out Krang is now in New York in a giant exosuit and has stolen the Statue of Liberty. Meanwhile, Shredder has taken over the airwaves just to laugh at the turtles and what they lost. Now, the turtles must fight through the seemingly never-ending Foot clan to stop Krang and Shredder. You can play as either of the four turtles: Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, or Michaelangelo (Mikey)

 

Where do we find this stuff? Here are our Sources:

Nintendo

SEGA

Capcom

Konami Games

NetherRealm Studios

Bandai Namco Studios

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