The Web is really starting to suck. I see gaps everywhere. We used to have lists of things of interest, relevant content, and regular people writing up interesting stuff. I guess that’s all in pictures on Instagram and on Facebook now. I’m trying to fix that.
I am working my way through various gaming catalogs and pulling out lists of games I find interesting from a player’s perspective. Things I’d either never heard of, or perhaps would consider hidden gems, coupled with stuff that’s just generally awesome through and through, even if everyone knows. These lists will evolve over time, maybe.
Thus, episode 1: Arcade Games I have noticed.
Ridge Racer 2: This is just an awesome arcade racer. Smooth and rewarding. Difficulty scales with speed, and increases the challenge without decreasing the fairness. You can easily drift in this game way before Drifting was the name of the game in modern racers.
Ray Storm: A great early 3D shooter with a lock-on mechanic and fun shooting mechanics. Fairly pretty considering how early the 3D is.
Rim Rockin’ Basketball: Feels like a faster version of one of EA’s early Genesis games, like Lakers Vs. Celtics. Fairly easy to start with, too.
Ring Rage: A wrestling game that supports up to 4 players. Fun mechanics and gets the feel of a free-for-all right.
Rampart: Tetris meets castle building. Always a mad scramble to rebuild after an attack. A really neat game with a mechanic we rarely see anymore. Imagine Fortnite with this mechanic.
Rampage: All of them. These are all good, so much fun as a party game, and really funny with their deadly humor. So many people die in a single game, but it’s funny! You’re eating them!
Robocop 2: This is actually a great arcade game, contrary to the first, which is a fucking terrible and downright impossible to win without dozens of quarters. This game is a standard belt scroller, but with a gun! The shoot button is a left/right style, like Double Dragon 3, where one button shoots left, the other shoots right. This is awkward at first, but really fits the Robocop theme because it enables you to quickly shoot in each direction, as he does in the films. You can be very precise if you want. Also, it’s a 2 player game!
Sky Kid: I love Sky Kid. I suck at it, but it’s fun. A really enjoyable game, kinda like the one’s it inspired, Luftrausers and a host of other platform games. I wish this game was spread out upon a table by someone who knew what they were doing, iterating upon it and making it into a Metroidvania or something. Such fun, simple mechanics.
Ninja Clowns: Could you image? This is a standard belt scroller, but come on, you gotta give it props for being so unique in its theme, and for sticking with it. Your enemies are bums, guys in suits, cops, city sewer workers. It’s a hoot.
Rock n’ Rage: This is actually not a terribly engrossing game, but just look at it! The band loses a member to some alternate dimension and you’ve got to save her by beating people with a guitar.
Robotron 2084: I won’t be alive to play this in 2084, but if I am, I won’t be playing it because of the anniversary, I’ll be playing it because it’s a spectacular game, damn near perfect in every way. Classic.
Rastan: An absolute classic, with one of my favorite arcade theme songs ever. Just a terrific game The graphics blew me away as a kid, and the difficulty kept me coming back. It’s not the fairest of games, but it is a terrifically fun one, I think.
Ninja Warriors: There was some person on the 4Chan Retro Videogames forums asking about the world this game inhabits. What is the history, why are these robot ninjas in combat? Where is this of all taking place? There are no answers. The only reason this game exists is that someone at Taito decided that a game with an extremely wide aspect ratio would be a good idea. And, I have to say, when I was a kid and saw this machine in the wild, I wanted to play it. I never did, though, because the one time I played it I found out very quickly that this is not a terribly good game. It’s just Kung-Fu from the NES, with some twists. Move right, kill on both sides. It was absolutely gorgeous in its day. The attract screen shows a tank. I never made it to the tank. Even on freeplay.
Sky Army: This is an odd one. You stop a bridge from being built, then move across a landscape to your base. I do love a good helicoptor game, and this is actually a pretty good one, despite it’s age.
Kid Niki: This is a classic platformer. Very simple, but the first level’s end boss is awesome. Check out his big ass cheeks.
Steel Gunner: This is a light gun game. It’s insanely hectic, but it also has a tremendous amount of detail. Glass shatters, signs come off the walls, a big row of TVs are individually destructible. Majorly beautiful game for its time.
Strider: This is just a classic game. A ninja game with no ninja. Soviet themes, straight up scrolling, climbing, non-traditional platforming surfaces. Strider is unparalleled. Only Osman is anything like it, and that’s the same developer.
Osman: This is basically Strider in a different skin. It’s got similarly beautiful sprite work, this time with a middle-eastern theme. Wall hanging, crazy attacks, wild enemies. Spectacular and unlike anything you’ve ever played, for better or worse.
Outrun: The best and still fun today. Such a terrific arcade racer. Play it in Yakuza!
Outfoxies: Where has this Japanese gem been? This is Super Smash Bros. meets Power Stone. Run around the environment, destroying it and using whatever you can get your hands on to beat your opponent 1 on 1. It’s a real hoot!
P-47 Phantom Fighter: A solid shooter with firm feeling gameplay. It’s not entirely a bullet hell, and I like that.
Stun Runner: A fun tube racing game about hitting the zipper pads. Way ahead of its time in the arcades, and a great early example of 3D games.
Warrior Blade – Rastan Saga Episode III: This has a dual-screen thing going on, making for an interesting experience for a Rastan game. Rather than having a ton of character on screen, they opt for huge, luscious sprites that take up large portions of the screen. It’s a lovely 2-player belt scroller.
Streaker: A Pac-Man-like game that moves a little slowly. It’s literally about a person running around naked with the cops trying to catch them.
Avenging Spirit, AKA, Phantasm: This is a body possession game. Really neat. Platforming a bit like an old Apogee game, but you are a spirit that takes over bodies. When your body dies, you grab another. Really a terrific mechanic that’s not really used much in the world of platformers. There was a period where this was all the rage in 3D games: Omicron, Messiah, Silicon Valley. But not so much in 2D outside of Kirby.
Aurail: The mech genre doesn’t have a lot of overhead shooters, but that’s what this is. Tap shoot and you shoot while moving. Hold it down and you;re stationary. You have a shield but you need energy to turn it on. Once it’s on, it stops one hit. There are also FPS sections where you sorta move back and forth, and turn 180 degrees to shoot things behind you. Unique!
Blaze On: This is a really neat possession game. A standard shooter, but instead of upgrading your guns. you shoot a special weapon that can make certain mech-like enemies freeze in place so you can fly into them and become them. Very interesting!
Boogie Wings: This is just a super innovative and unique shooter. You’re a guy. Running on foot. I mean, you start in a biplane with a hook and chain, but you can lose it easily. You can get back into a couple tanks, horses, and other things. You can hook enemies and drop them. It’s all very WWI in theme, too. Very cool!
APB: This is such a great game marred by a terrible interface. I always thought it could have been a fun concept with a little more attention to ease of use… Still, after years of trying to get APB to work with a controller in MAME, I figured it out, definitively, and made it to day 7, which was quite a feat. Couldn’t get past 7. So, here’s what you do: hit tab in MAME, when in the game, to bring up the config menu. Select “Analog Controls” and then go to “Dial Sensitivity.” Take that one down to 1. Seriously, all the way down. As far as I can tell, “Digital Dial Speed” doesn’t really change anything, so just go with the “Digital Sensitivity.” This should allow you to play just fine with an Xbox controller, or something similar with an analog stick. Obviously, you have to configure that controller on your own, but if you have configured it for all of MAME, it should be fine in APB as long as you crank this setting down to 1. This solves the problem where it’s impossible to steer accurately with a controller in MAME.