Arcade Game of the Year – 1988

This was yet another tough year to select a top 5 because while there are many good games, unfortunately there weren’t that many great ones. However, this year we see a lot of games utilizing newer technology and one that even surprised me. I actually had to check multiple times to ensure 100% that it was definitely released in 1988. There are 119 games this year, so let’s get to it!

#5 – Winning Run

Look at that movie. No really, take a good look. That was in 1988. Keep in mind that most games up to this point were using raster (I think there may have still been some using vector graphics as well) and this game rolls up with true 3D graphics. I don’t know exactly what tech it’s using, but it’s damn impressive for the year it came out. I haven’t actually played this that much and I’m not usually a big racer fan, but this game deserves to be highlighted at the very least for the amazing tech being displayed.

#4 – Altered Beast

And here we get into the meat of the late 80s. Altered Beast was a strange, almost genre defying game. At its core it’s a simple side-scrolling beat-em-up…where you can violently mutate into the angriest furries alive. It’s pretty basic, sure, but I’d also like to think that a lot of the effects and graphics in general helped inspire a lot of Neo Geo titles that have a similar look and feel to them.

#3 – Tetris

Ahhh, Tetris. While it’s better known for its console counterparts, Tetris was also pretty damn fun to play in the arcades as well. For those of you that don’t know what Tetris is, you assemble blocks into lines that are then removed from the board. The game gets faster and faster until you inevitably fail. It’s an amazing game that got its start right here in the arcades.

#2 – Assault

Let’s talk tech. Assault displays some seriously impressive tech while also being a really damn fun shooter all around. You play in a tank that’s controlled with dual sticks. Now no, it’s not so you can move in one direction and shoot in another; it’s so you can make careful, more deliberate tank-like movements and even some not so tank-like movements like roll-strafing and tilting upwards so you can lob mortar shots at enemies.

The entire screen tilts as you turn and the enemies, fixed or otherwise, are fully rotatable as well. Also cool is the fact that you can hit jump panels that send you soaring high so you can drop bombs on enemies from the air. This was an incredibly fun and legitimately tough game that I spent countless quarters on and I’m sure you will (or did) enjoy it too.

#1 – Splatterhouse

Yep, calling in a cult classic for #1. Splatterhouse is a violent, gross romp through a monster house where you’re dressed up like Jason Voorhees and you punch, slice, kick, and otherwise maim your way to victory, AKA your kidnapped girlfriend. I don’t remember the story entirely, but it honestly doesn’t matter. The game is fun, dark, and challenging.


It was truly hard to decide on a top 5 this year. Again, this was a year with a lot of good games, but from a glance I wasn’t sure exactly what I even wanted for my #1. Tech was constantly changing in the 80s and went from what seemed like direct Atari ports to games that featured voice, raster effects, and even true 3D effects as I found out. And of course, this is just the beginning.

Runner Ups

This year saw the first Castlevania game (Haunted Castle), another Double Dragon (along with more brawlers in general), way too many mahjong games, a bunch of good (and not so good) shooters, and a lot of games flaunting quirk above all else. There were a number of runner ups that I simply have no idea what the developers were thinking, but overall I feel the runner ups represent the 80s fairly well and should be checked out.

Almond Pinky
Angel Kids
Apache 3
Ark Area
Arm Champs
Atomic Robo-Kid
Atomic Runner Chelnov
Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja
Baraduke 2
Bijokko Gakuen
Birdie Try
Bonze Adventure
Capcom Bowling
Chase H.Q.
Chequered Flag
China Gate
Chopper 1
Chuka Taisen
Cobra Command
Crazy Climber 2
Dead Angle
Double Dragon 2 – The Revenge
F-1 Dream
Fantasy Zone 2 – The Tears of Opa Opa
Fighting Hawk
Fighting Soccer
Final Blow
Final Round
Forgotten Worlds
Formation Armed F
Gain Ground
Galaxy Force 2
Gang Busters
Ghouls ‘n Ghosts
Gold Medalist
Gradius 2
Hard Head
Haunted Castle
Heavy Unit
Hot Chase
Hot Rod
Idol Mahjong Housoukyoku
Image Fight
Insector X
Kick Off
Kitten Kaboodle
Konami ‘88
Kuri Kinton
Labyrinth Island
Last Duel – Inter Planet War 2012
Legend of Makai
Mahjong Camera Kozou
Mahjong Gakuen 2 Gakuen-chou No Fukushuu
Mahjong Hana No Momoko Gumi!
Mahjong Satsujin Jiken
Mahjong Shikaku
Main Event
Marchen Maze
Metal Hawk
Mirai Ninja
Nastar Warrior
New Zealand Story
Ninja Gaiden
Ninja Kazan
Ninja Spirit
Operation Thunderbolt
Orange Club – Maru-hi Kagai Jugyou
Otona no Mahjong
P-47 – The Phantom Fighter
Paddle Mania
Passing Shot
Power Drift
P.O.W. Prisoners of War
Psycho-Nics Oscar
Rainbow Islands – Extra Version
Rally Bike
Reikai Doushi
Rettou Juudan Nekkyoku Janshi
Rough Ranger
Samurai-Fighter Shingen
Scramble Spirits
Silk Worm
Sky Soldiers
Stadium Hero
Super Contra
Super Real Mahjong Part 3
Telephone Mahjong
Thunder Cross
Top Landing
Turtle Ship
Twin Eagle – Revenge Joe’s Brother
UFO Senshi Yohko Chan
U.S. Championship V’Ball
Vindicators Part 2
Wonder Boy 3 – Monster Lair
World Court

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Filed under Arcade, GotY Series, Retro, Videogames

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