Before we could play games over the internet, gamers got together in poorly-lit rooms to play video games together. Those poorly-lit rooms were called arcades, and they were awesome. Some of the best arcade games were those that let you play side-by-side with your friends, either cooperatively or competitively. These eight arcade games are some of the best examples of just how awesome that time was.
Don’t see your favorite, or think we forgot an important one? Let us know in the comments!
First published in 1989, NBA Jam was a staple in nearly every arcade in its day. It was an over-the-top 2-on-2 basketball game that was one of the first to feature NBA-licensed teams and players and their digital likenesses. Those likenesses were about all the realism that was included, as players could routinely jump super-high and pull off dunks that completely ignored the laws of physics, and hitting three shots in a row made you “on fire,” giving you unlimited turbo and more accurate shooting. It was loads of fun, and all the easter eggs (like playing as former President Bill Clinton) kept things fresh for a long time.
If you’ve ever wanted to see what it’s like to be a giant movie monster hell-bent on destroying a city, Rampage is the game for you. As either a giant gorilla, giant lizard, or giant werewolf, you’ll scale buildings, smash them to bits, and do it all while you’re fending off tanks, soldiers, and other annoyances. Best of all, you could play it alongside a friend, which raised an interesting dilemma: Do you cooperate to make sure you both get the points you need, or go ruthless and make sure you come out on top?
In 1992, Konami rolled out the X-Men arcade machine, and many, many quarters were harvested. The huge cabinet let you and up to five friends play as the X-Men in this side-scrolling beat-em-up, but there were also two and four player versions made as well. Cyclops, Colossus, Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler and Dazzler were available to play, and they’d team up to take down Magneto. The game was eventually ported to PS3 and Xbox 360, but in my opinion the true arcade experience was diminished by the removal of the coin slot.
Street Fighter II
Capcom knew that Street Fighter had potential, and it was realized with the release of Street Fighter II in 1991. Street Fighter II built on the base gameplay of the original, and added the option to choose which character you played as. It is also the game that spawned the idea of a “combo” system, thanks to a bug that allowed players to cancel some animations by performing another move, allowing them to chain moves together. It was so popular that it was adopted as the standard for the genre, and persists to this day.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Popularity of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles spiked in the late 80s, so of course they had an arcade game. Another side-scrolling beat-em-up, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles let you and three friends play as the ass-kicking quartet, who would take on all the iconic baddies from the series, including Rocksteady, Bebop, and Shredder. Add in eating pizzas to regain health, and you’ve got everything that was great about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Just hope you have enough quarters.
Double Dragon sends you and a friend on a mission to save the kidnapped Marian, the girl you both love. As you fight your way through countless enemies and bosses, you’ll no doubt start to wonder what the last boss will be like, especially since you’ve plugged tons of quarters in already. But after you beat the final boss, you’ll find that there’s one last fight in store: a battle to the death against your friend, with the winner escorting Marian home.
Ivan “Ironman” Stewart’s Super Off Road
With three steering wheels jutting from its cabinet, Ivan “Ironman” Stewart’s Super Off Road certainly took up some floor space. As you raced around the game’s varied tracks, you’d collect cash that could be used to upgrade your truck with new tires, new shocks, and more nitro capacity. You’d need all those upgrades, because once the fourth race kicks off, Ivan “Ironman” Stewart himself takes to the track in his distinctive white truck. Defeating his AI-powered vehicle was possible, but very difficult. Still, you’d be hard pressed to find a more fun game to play with two friends. Except for maybe….
If your favorite game is non-stop action, then Gauntlet is for you. There’s no pesky storyline to get in the way, and no boss fights to slow you down. Just a bunch of random makes, plenty of enemies, treasure to looted, and one awesome narrator. The phrase “Warrior needs food badly” is still in the gaming lexicon today. The only way Gauntlet got any better was to drag three friends into playing it with you. It was a hell of a way to spend a Saturday.