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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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