About 21 months ago (I counted!), I posted an article for The League of Extraordinary Bloggers pitching my idea for a reality show. My idea was that, similar to Pawn Stars or Toy Hunter, I would fuel up old Optimus Prime and drive around the country looking for old arcade cabinets to purchase and add to my growing collection. And thus The Arcade Collector was born! (check out Season 1 here). This idea brought up great memories among my readers & followers, so I figure why not continue with Season 2? Check it out (YouTubes of playthroughs included below)!
The Arcade Collector, Season 2
starring Classick Material, Tuesday nights on
TVOne Discovery G4 Univision AMC
In Season Two, Classick and his crew of coin-op collectors continue to navigate the fruited plains in search of even more beloved arcade classics to add to the NEW Arcade Collector HQ (the old refurbished WayneTech Cave was destroyed in The Dark Knight Rises). Each episode has a theme of sorts. Read on and add yours in the comments below!
Episode 1: War Is Hell
This 3D isometric space shooter from 1982 was years ahead of its time! Massively fun and addictive!
1943: The Battle of Midway
In 1987, Capcom released this sequel to the popular WWII shooter “1942”. A slight graphical improvement over its predecessor, ’43 also had a catchy soundtrack and non-stop action and power-ups (the 3-way is the best, btw). If a buddy comes over to the cave, we can definitely coop this mug!
SNK’s 1988 smash hit lets two players pretty much Double Dragon their way out of a P.O.W. camp in La Havana, Cuba. Why Cuba? It was the 80’s, so who knows? Along the way, players can pick up and use knives, grenades and the occasional machine gun. Funny story, me and the homie @75Blvd were once watching some lame-ass 6th grader play this (perspective: we were in 7th grade) & he was pumping endless quarters into the machine but dying so quickly. At some point, as the kid’s on the last stage and down to his final quarter, 75 yells out “fall into that hole, it’s worth a hundred thousand points!” Good times!
Episode 2: Adventures in Side-Scrolling
Superman: The Video Game
An unexpected release in 1988, Taito’s Superman finally brought DC Comics’ flagship icon to the arcades. It had everything– flying, punching and kicking, eye-laser beams and um… did he just punch a Kellogg’s Corn Pop at someone? Who cares, it was Superman!! To top it all off, this was a 2 player deal, so you and a friend could smash up invading aliens (worse than General Zod and his crew this time) as a team! Since Player 2 was a red-suited Superman, we called him Shazam! Most of the game’s music includes the legendary John Williams score and a few variations for the later stages. Must have this game!!
Capcom was busy in 1988, releasing this smash hit side-scrolling shooter that lets you play as a pair of jet-pack wearing space marines who, with the help of various weapons, armor and buddy power-ups, infiltrate… Forgotten Worlds! A helpful in-game shop feature pops up intermittently, allowing you to use collected money (called Zenny) to purchase power-ups, making for a longer than usual arcade experience for your quarter. This was great game, especially playing coop with a friend. Reminds me of a cross between R-Type and Space Harrier.
Based on 1988’s George Lucas-written, Ron Howard-directed film, Capcom’s 1989 arcade translation was beyond fun! Amazing graphics, soundtrack and a faithful representation of the events in the movie and then some, this game was an instant classic. Players alternated levels as titular Nelwyn hero Willow Ufgood (really, that’s his name!) and Val Kilmer-in-his-prime swordsman Madmartigan. Some stages even featured both characters together, particularly the cool carriage chase & shield-sledding scenes. Also helpful for power-ups was the shop feature, familiar from Forgotten Worlds. In theaters, this movie was Lord of the Rings before Lord of the Rings, though Tolkien’s written works are decades older. I stole the baby, hahahaha!
Episode 3: Drop or Get Dropped
The original multi-color falling blocks puzzle game directly from Russia! This arcade classic spawned two 8-bit Nintendo versions (one official, the other a Tengen knock-off) and several editions thereafter. Created in 1984, I had not played the arcade game until high school and this one drew a massive crowd every time. Gotta have the O.G. cabinet with the Russian tunes in it.
Once Tetris became all the rage, the next logical step was to put it in 3-D! Technos (yes, the makers of Double Dragon II) put out this puzzle game in 1989. This was Tetris, only looking down the well and with the ability to move the blocks around in a lot more ways. The colors of the blocks were more helpful in this game, as it’s easy to get lost in the 3-D aspect. Plus, the in-game announcer was rather creepy, which is always a plus.
In 1988, Jean Claude Van Damme starred as martial arts fighter Frank Dux in the movie Bloodsport. The movie featured a tournament of fighters from around the world called a kumite, which inspired young gamers like me to wonder if there’d ever be something similar in videogame format. Other than the next entry, 1990’s Pit Fighter by Atari Games was one of the first to capture that spirit. In Pit Fighter, you could play as one of three types of fighters: Buzz the wrestler, Ty the kickboxer or Kato the third degree black belt. Each stage was a fight surrounded by crowds in a variety of settings, like a pool hall, parking lot or warehouse. Numerous opponents challenged you at once, from masked wrestlers to chair-wielding warriors to dominatrixes, biker thugs and on and on. Weapons like trash cans, knives and sticks were also littered about. What made this game stand out even more than other fighters was that the animations were digitized captures of actual actors shot in front of bluescreen. This would later become a craze after 1993’s Mortal Kombat, which did the same thing. Pit Fighter is a relic worthy of the find! But I call dibs on Kato!
Street Fighter (the original)
Most of today’s gamers would praise Street Fighter 2 as the fighting game that changed the genre, but many felt that way about this first one when it was released by Capcom in 1987. You could only play as Ryu (Player 1) or Ken (Player 2), so the movesets were limited. Fireballs and helicopter/hurricane kicks were a pain in the ass to pull off. Sagat was still a beast! Many familiar (if you’ve played SF Alpha series) characters are in this one, like Gen, Birdie & Adon. Other opponents from around the world included Eagle, Retsu, Joe and my personal favorite opponent, Mike! Mike was pre-Balrog Balrog in that he resembled intimidating boxing legend Mike Tyson and would uppercut the lunch outta your guts in a heartbeat. What was weird was you had to fight him in front of Mount Rushmore, so you got your ass whupped with the Presidents watching! The terrible sounding voiceovers are in there, so you can enjoy “YOU GOBBA LOBBO LEARN BEFORE YOU BEEBY! TRY AGAIN KIDDO, HUHUHUHUHUHOOOO!!”
Episode 4: Wheelmen Wanted
Between the epic Outrun and Hang-On franchises, SEGA put out some great arcade racers in the 80s and 90s. Combine that track record with circuit racing dune buggies on courses with hills and varying degrees of elevation and you have 1988’s Power Drift. The vehicles were mostly the same, yet players could choose from various characters to one that suited them. Lots of fun, and I would want to find the sit-in Power Drift cabinet set on a hydraulic platform for a true off road racing experience!
I always wanted a Miami Vice video game. 1988’s Chase H.Q. by Taito was the next best thing. I kid you not when I say that the premise of this game is that you play two plain clothes police officers who coincidentally resemble Crocket and Tubbs, right down to the rolled up sleeves on the white cop’s suit jacket! So anyway, while trolling around the mean streets of Anytown, U.S.A. in their police issue sports car, Crocket and Tubbs (Tony Gibson and Raymond Broady, actually) get alerts from Nancy at Chase H.Q. about a suspect who’s on the loose. Suspects vary from the Idaho slashed to the New York armed robber and finally to the Eastern Bloc spy in the final stage (this was the 80s!). Your objective is to drive through each stage similar to Outrun and when you catch up to the bad guys, literally ram their car into flaming submission. You really do see flames coming out of the suspects’ vehicles and I wonder why cops would attempt to murder the perps like that. Also, what jurisdiction are these cops under? Stages take place in Idaho, New York, Chicago, L.A. and finally Washington, D.C. (although at the end it looks like the Arizona desert). Is Chase H.Q. some sort of federal agency that can go all over the country vehicularly assaulting criminals? Where’s the backup? So many questions…
Ivan “Iron Man” Stewart’s Super Off Road
Four players. Pickup trucks! Off Road! Owner of the coolest nickname in sports (shared with Cal Ripken and A.C. Green, I know), Ivan Stewart retired from off road racing in 2000 and had a storied career. I have never seen him race, and I’m sure many of my generation know him from this game more than his actual accomplishment, sort of like how the kids today view John Madden. But hey, what’s not to like about this game? Similar to Nintendo’s cart R.C. Pro-Am, you can apply power-ups to your ride, like shocks, tires, acceleration and the ever-popular nitro! Plus, the original arcade cabinet came with three steering wheels, dammit!!
Episode 5: SEGAAAAAAAA!!! The Sequel
“RISE FROM YOUR GRAVE!! (… and rescue my daughter, while you’re at it).” Zeus does his typical Zeus thing and asks humans to do his dirty work for him, only this time he exhumes two dead warriors and gives them abilities to fight monstrous foes. You start off Stage 1 as a man, but after each successive power up (kick the white Cerebus!), you gradually ‘roid up and rip more clothes until eventually you become a WEREWOLF. Each stage proceeds similarly, as you transform into a Weredragon, Werebear, Weretiger and finally a Golden Werewolf. Each transformation comes with its own specific pair of new abilities (The weredragon’s electricity is clutch) and you’ll need it for the legions of zombies, pterodactyls, giant cannibal toads and man-sized ants headed your way. Sure, everyone’s played this on Sega Genesis or on some nextgen classics compilation, but to play it on a live arcade cabinet? Too much fun!
Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker
This title is a Sega Genesis cult classic and for good reason. However, the arcade version took it a step further, as you play as the titular King of Pop, fighting through several stages of fedora-wearing gangster foes on y0ur way to defeat the Joe Pesci-lookin-ass Mr. Big, rescuing children along the way. Oh, and Bubbles comes around to provide power-ups! Unlike the Genesis version, which was a side-scrolling platformer, the arcade edition is a beat-em up similar to the TMNT arcade game. Up to three players can play as different color swaps for MJ (the clothes, you clowns) as you use your powers of moonwalking and dancing to kick butt! Invite a couple friends over!
The third SEGA classic I’d seek for this episode is the second sequel to the legendary ninja beat-em up Shinobi (covered in this RVGOTM post!). Unlike the original or it’s Sega Genesis sequel, Revenge of Shinobi, Shadow Dancer introduces a ninja’s best friend to the series in the form of a pet dog. Expanding gameplay beyond typical swords and shuriken, you can now sic your canine pal on enemies to disable them long enough to give the knockout blow, but wait too long and your dog becomes damaged and reverts to a puppy for a few seconds. Since we already have Shinobi in our arcade museum, it only makes sense to add this awesome sequel to the collection.
Episode 6: Kick-ass By Committee*
As much as I enjoyed “The Main Event”, the one thing that was missing from that epic arcade game was name recognition. Sure, Kamikaze Ken and the Maui Mauler were some cool charactesr, but I grew up on WWF pro wrestling. To play as Hulk Hogan or Jake the Snake Roberts in the arcade would have been awesome! In 1991, Technos Japan finally gave us the coin-op game that World Wrestling Federation fans wanted. Up to four players can smash buttons together in WrestleFest in one of two game modes: The Royal Rumble (an every man for himself six-men at a time battle royal) or Saturday Night’s Main Event (a tag team tournament for the belts). Players can choose from wrestling legends Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Jake the Snake Roberts, Mr. Perfect, The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, The Big Boss Man, Earthquake, Sgt. Slaughter, and Smash or Crush from Demolition. Oddly enough, The Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) were in this game, but only as NPC’s in Royal Rumble mode or as the final tag team to beat in Saturday Night’s Main Event mode. Every wrestler had his signature look and finishing move in some form. There are some inconsistencies (The Warrior never used a Boston Crab!), but this was a quarter-eater worthy of wasting the day on. I chose this edition over 1989’s WWF Superstars (future RVOTM entry) due to the larger roster and better graphics. “Whatcha gonna do, brother??!!”
Spider-Man: The Video Game
In 1991, SEGA made my young comic book fanboy dreams a reality when they released Spider-Man: The Video Game in arcades. This four-player fighter allowed you to play not only as everyone’s favorite wallcrawler, but also as bow-and-arrow wielding Avenger Hawkeye, Sub-Mariner Namor and the beautiful yet dangerous Black Cat. Along with the typical jump-punch-kick-n-throw functions, each hero also had a couple of special attacks unique to the character, such as Spidey’s web swing & web blast or Hawkeye’s bow & arrow attacks. Aside from the usual street thugs, grunts and mutated monkeys, boss & mini-boss villains were all from Spidey’s legendary rogues gallery: Kingpin, Venom, Doc Ock, Electro, Lizard, Scorpion, Sandman, Green Goblin, Hobgoblin, and lastly Doctor Doom! Comparable to other Marvel arcade beat-em ups like X-Men and Captain America & the Avengers, Spider-man: TVG is a classic worthy of adding to any coin-op collection!
This will be my second shortest review ever. HOMER! MARGE! LISA! BART! MUST PLAY THIS GAME WITH THREE OF YOUR FRIENDS!! If you want fun, this is everything you could ask for and it’s aged quite well.
Episode 7: Epic Point-and-Click
…and then there were games where button-mashing was not going to do the trick. I learned this early on when watching the older kids play Dragon’s Lair at the corner bodega all the way back in 1983 (I was old enough to only walk to the corner and back). What I saw amounted to a Saturday morning cartoon that took the form of an arcade game. In this Don Bluth animated masterpiece, players controlled valiant knight Dirk the Daring on his quest to rescue Princess Daphne from a castle containing, you guessed it, an evil dragon. Fighting off ghouls and skeletons and witches and warlocks on the way, players also had to solve puzzles and escape traps using all sorts of strategy. The sword was only helpful in certain scenarios, as there was a ton of evasion tactics at play. Dragon’s Lair changed gaming for its time, introducing laserdisc animation to the arcades. Dragon’s Lair was hugely praised and gained a massive following– I remember seeing it featured on a number of television shows at the time. A year later in 1984, it spawned a Ruby-Spears cartoon series which didn’t last long. It also spawned numerous sequels and console adaptations and I own it on DVD to this day, but to get the actual arcade cabinet would be extra cool.
1984 saw a similar game from the makers of Dragon’s Lair, only this time set in space. Sporting the same Bluth animation style as its predecessor, Space Ace introduced us to Ace, a heroic musclebound protagonist who is transformed into a scrawny teenage form by an “Infanto Ray” fired on him by the evil Commander Borf. Borf has also kidnapped Ace’s girl Kimberly. Simple enough story, as you help Dexter/Ace navigate through numerous sequences using joystick and button timing to advance towards the goal. I hadn’t seen this game nearly enough in my younger days, so I’d definitely want to play this machine, especially right after beating Dragon’s Lair.
Mad Dog McCree
If you’ve watched the “VHS Maintenance” episode of NBC’s now Yahoo!’ed sitcom Community you’ll likely recognize this game as an influence on the fictional VHS game from that episode “Pile of Bullets“. Nowhere near as confusing, Mad Dog McCree showed up in 1990 as the first ever live-action laserdisc video game. Think Dragon’s Lair meets Mortal Kombat. The plot, characters and dialogue come straight out of one of those Wild West theme park tour attractions. The interface is purely point and shoot, as you control “The Stranger” and use your trusty six-shooter to either shoot the bad guys or make key in-game decisions such as shooting road signs, spittoons and choosing paths to follow. Plus, if you knew about the arcade reload glitch, well….
Here’s some old old olde footage of Katie Couric trying to play…
Episode 8: You Go In Pieces!
Alien vs. Predator
Before SEGA took over the license on Aliens, CAPCOM gave us this arcade gem pitting up to three players against legions of Aliens infesting the Earth. You can play as either one of two types of Predators (Warrior or Hunter) or as one of two cyborg Colonial Marines (Maj. Dutch Schaefer, named after the Ahnold character in Predator, or Lt. Linn Kurosawa). This game boasts a ton of weapons and power-ups, which you’ll need because the number of Aliens that can appear on-screen is staggering for a game released in 1994. This is basically a beat-em-up in the style of final Fight but with the awesome factor of the two movie franchises thrown in. Good times!
Did you know Atari was still around in 1996? Defeated in the home console market (RIP the 2600, 7200, ST, Lynx and Jaguar), Atari continued to make its bread off of arcade games. Area 51 is basically a light gun game of up to two players where you infiltrate the mythical government installation to battle aliens and zombies. Similar to the earlier Atari title Pit Fighter, Area 51 utilized green screen footage of live-action characters for much of their animation. Seems pedestrian today, but this was still new wave and funky fresh to see in the 90’s. Adding this to my collection because die, alien scum, die!!
Not sure if anyone asks this question, maybe in video game high school or something, but the answer to “what was the first great alien invasion video game?” is not Space Invaders, Asteroids nor Missile Command, it’s Defender, bitch!! Released in 1980 by then-leading pinball game company Williams Electronics, Defender was a simple side-scroller where you controlled a terrain navigating space ship, guarding astronauts from attacking aliens and mutants. What made this game cool was the aliens arrived in incessant waves and if they captured any astronauts, they turned them into mutants that you had to then kill. This was also one of the first games to feature an on-screen mini-map indicating where else on the stage aliens were approaching. This was a game that required the utmost of skill and if you were good at it in the early 80s, you drew a crowd. I’d want this machine just to get as good as the guy in the video.
Episode 9: Gonna Make You Sweat!
And they say video games make you lazy! These are games guaranteed to give you a workout and/or make you sore from playing them.
Fighting Mania: Fist of the North Star
I ran upon a video of this game years ago, but never played it in person. Basically it’s a first person boxing game where, instead of using a joystick and buttons, you engage in combat by punching up to six rotating contact pads. You literally use your fists in this game! This 2000 Konami release was called “Punch Mania” in Japan– with good reason!
Arm Champs II
If Sylvester Stallone’s universally acclaimed legendary classic film “Over The Top” had a video game, this would be it. Nah, just playin, but you do get to put your pythons up against a United Nations of arm-wrasslers in this 1992 Jaleco created title. Make sure y0u wipe down the arcade arm after playing.
Dance Dance Revolution
Drawing a crowd while playing an arcade game is quite an ego boost. The last time this happened for me, I was in Niagara Falls (the Canada side, naturally) trying this game alongside the lovely Mrs. Classick and we tore it up! Originally released in 1998, Konami’s DDR boasted one-of-a-kind experience where players danced on a pressure-sensitive floor, matching timing and direction with the on-screen commands and in rhythm with the music playying. With over eleventy-thousand-somethin sequels, mixes and editions, it’s hard to recommend or choose which one to add to my collection. Whichever one I pick MUST have this song in it, though…
And look, this game led to some of the sickest tournaments ever. All-Valley ain’t got shit on this!!
Episode 10: You Are In My System (season finale)
In the mid-80s, right at the height of the Nintendo Entertainment System craze, PlayChoice-10 machines started popping up all over Japan and later in the U.S. This was an arcade cabinet that housed up to 10 different NES console games on a single motherboard, so you could literally drop quarters on Super Mario Bros 2, Double Dragon, R.C. Pro-Am, Duck Hunt and Mega Man 3 + much more all on the same quarter! (Note: quarters purchased you time blocks to play rather than lives). Sure, I have NES emulators all over the place. Sure, I can play any of these games even online, but to have one of these cabinets in my museum loaded up with my 10 all-time favorite NES titles (hint: Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest and Ninja Gaiden 2 will both be on there). The best part: NO BLOWING ON CARTRIDGES!! This machine is a WIN-WIN…. & WIN AGAIN!
SNK Neo Geo MVS
If I have to explain the aweomeness that is SNK’s Neo Geo arcade system to you, then you need to leave now because you’ve scrolled down this far and not yet realized arcade greatness. I’m not even going to describe the cabinet here, I’m just gonna spout off some titles and let it sink in: Magician Lord, Ninja Combat, Art of Fighting, Samurai Showdown, Baseball Stars Professional, King of the Monsters, Burning Fight, Cyber Lip, The King of Fighters, Fatal Fury, Metal Slug, need I go on…???? Released in 1990, Neo Geos “MVS” stood for Multi Video System, not to be confused with the home console known as Advanced Entertainment System, or “AES”. The MVS could hold up to six titles at once, although there were variations that held 2,3 & 4 titles as well.
Here’s a review by Gamester81 of more features of the Neo Geo MVS
Sega Mega-Tech (overseas, season-ending cliffhanger?)
I’ll be honest, I may not even find this unit in the U.S. Released in 1989, the Sega Mega-Tech was an arcade system board that ran on Mega Drive/Genesis hardware. Considered a clone of Nintendo’s PlayChoice-10, Mega-Tech played 16-bit Genesis titles instead. So yes, players could stand up in an arcade and put up quarters to play classic home console titles such as Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Revenge of Shinobi, & Sonic the Hedgehog all in the same stretch. More hardcore nostalgia-maniacs would leap at the chance to add the Sega Master System feature to this unit and thus play 8-bit titles such as Outrun, Fantasy Zone, Alien Syndrome or the Great sports series (Great Football, Great Golf, Great Soccer). As this was never released in North America, I’m imagining that this machine may take longer than the episode would allow, so AMC might have this one end in a cliffhanger to set up Season 3. Stay tuned!
Check out this cabinet review by TNT Amusements Inc.
Welp, that’s another season of The Arcade Collector wrapped up! Hope you enjoyed the walk back through digital memory lane. Since everyone enjoys slideshows, here’s one of all the titles listed above, with assorted cabinet photos and screenshots (some images from gamesdbase.com).
But wait… there’s more!!
Extra DVD Blu-Ray Bonus: Arcade Wish List (roundtable: arcade games we wish existed)
Ryo Hazuki’s Forklift Racing
Tango & Cash: The Video Game
Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo
The Last Dragon
One Thousand and One Nights/Arabian Nights
Liked what you read above? Yeah it was a ton, but leave us a comment below! Also, send in your recommendations for games to cover in Season 3, along with your wishlist of titles you wish were actually made. E-mail the site at firstname.lastname@example.org or just find me on twitter. Thanks for dropping by!