Arcade Game of the Year – 1986

This was kind of a tricky year. Yes, there were a lot of GOOD games this year…but not necessarily great ones. Normally I can figure out exactly what I want for my #1, then kinda figure out the rest, but not this time. It was a 10 way tie, similar to previous years, but I’m still not entirely satisfied with the result. That said, there are 112 games this year, so let’s hop to it.

#5 – Arkanoid

So why pick this and not Breakout? Why not something a little better like 720 or Quartet or BreakThru? The fact is this is my absolute, all time favorite version of Breakout. Sure, there are Breakout clones that come later and innovate as well, but this is clean, has good music (what little there is), bright colors, good sound design all around, and the power ups are decent as well (some versions of Breakout either don’t have power ups or have a lot of nonsensical ones).

For those that don’t know what Breakout is, you simply bounce a ball into bricks until the bricks are gone. This one changes it up a bit with enemies, several different types of bricks, unbreakable bricks, and fun power ups all around. It’s challenging, simple, and probably the best version of Breakout that you’ll find, especially this early in videogame history.

#4 – Bubble Bobble

In Bubble Bobble, you play a cutesy dragon that spits bubbles he can trap enemies in. Pop the bubble to get food, items, and whatever. There are various power ups, maze actiony goodness, and in general it’s a very fun, kid friendly game that’s easy to get into and ramps up the difficulty nicely as time goes on. It’s a game that will make you smile every time you frequent it…at least until the final, more ridiculous stages.

#3 – Renegade

Renegade is the first “true” brawler. Yeah, we’ve had games like My Hero, Kung Fu Master, and what have you, but this is the first to do what we’ve come to know as the modern brawler/beat-em-up. There are punches, flying kicks, grabs, ground attacks, environmental hazards, and all kinds of stuff. Sure, it’s pretty basic in comparison to what I’ve come to expect from a modern brawler, but this is where it all began.

#2 – Rampage

Have you ever wanted to just break stuff? Then this game is perfect for you. Rampage allows you to play as giant monsters causing widespread destruction on skyscrapers, military, and all kinds of hazards. You can play with up to three people total. There really isn’t a whole lot else to say here beyond the fact that this was the first of its kind. It’s a great party game that also translated to consoles fairly well, too.

#1 – Roadblasters

This is where it’s at. I cannot begin to tell you how many quarters I sank into this beast. We had the sit down cabinet at my arcade, so the action was even more fun. It’s not quite the same as Spy Hunter, but that’s the best game I can think to compare it to. If anything, it’s like Spy Hunter on crack. You get to pretty much shoot everything in sight as you race down the path on a timer. Really, what more could you want?


It’s possible not a whole lot of people will be thrilled with my top 5. Trust me, I wanted VERY much to have this be a top 10 year. However, I’m confident that, if nothing else, you will utterly fall in love with Roadblasters if you never played it. In fact, I can’t see anyone not loving the top 5 I’ve chosen. These titles truly are definitive not only of the 80s, but arcades in general.

Runner Ups

Again, there were a LOT of good games this year. Great, eh…not so much, but good, yeah. There were also a lot of really good shooters this year, too. In fact, shooters have nowhere to go but up from here. Seriously, you have continuing Gradius and Darius titles as well as “cute-em-ups” like Fantasy Zone. There were a number of duds this year, but overall many of the runner ups are games I would still recommend all the same.

Action Fighter
Alex Kidd – The Lost Stars
Baluba-louk no Densetsu
Battle Lane! Vol. 5
Big Bucks Trivia Quest
Big Event Golf
Body Slam
Calorie vs. Moguranian
Championship Sprint
Clash Road
Clay Pigeon
Crystal Gal 2 Mahjong
Daikaiju no Gyakushu
Dangar – UFO Robo
Danger Zone
Darwin 4078
Don Den Mahjong
Double Dribble
Dunk Shot
Empire City – 1931
Enduro Racer
Express Raider
Fantasy Zone
Fire Trap
Gauntlet 2
Genpei Toumaden
Gigas Mark 2
Halley’s Comet
Hopping Mappy
Ikari Warriors
Iron Horse
Jail Break
Joust 2 – Survival of the Fittest
Kick and Run
Kid Niki – Radical Ninja
Kiki Kai Kai
Kyros no Yakata
Last Mission
Legendary Wings
Life Force
Lost Castle in Darkmist
LSA Squad
Mahjong Kyou Jidai
Mahjong Sisters
Mighty Guy
Mission 660
Momoko 120%
Mr. Goemon
MTV’s Rock N Roll Trivia Part 2
Name That Tune
Night Stocker
Ninja Emaki
Ojanko Yakata
Panic Road
Phraze Craze
Return of Ishtar
Riddle of Pythagoras
Robo Wres 2001
Rock’n Rage
Rolling Thunder
Rygar – Legendary Warrior
Side Arms – Hyper Dyne
Side Pocket
Sky Kid Deluxe
Slap Fight
Space Position
Speed Rumbler
Soldier Girl Amazon
Solomon’s Key
Spelunker 2 – 23 no Kagi
S.R.D. Mission
Super Sprint
Super Stingray
Thunder Ceptor
Thunder Ceptor 2
Top Gunner
Tokio – Scramble Formation
Toy Pop
Victory Road
WEC Le Mans
Wonder Boy

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Filed under Arcade, GotY Series, Retro, Videogames

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