There are 145 games this year and trust me, it was goddamn hard to pick a top 5. This year, there were a LOT of great games. Yes, you read that right. This was an incredible year for arcade games. In fact, I would be tempted to say this was Capcom year. Oh, and you’ll see why. Let’s put it this way: Capcom could’ve taken all 5 top spots this year. That said, let’s begin.
#5 – Block Out
Honestly, it was between this or Klax, both excellent puzzle games for the 80s. Though I don’t talk about it much, I love puzzle games. Yes, there other puzzle games this year, but what makes this so fun is it really is a 3D Tetris. You have 3 axes to twist the blocks in, a height meter, and you have to fill it ALL to make a “line.” No, it’s not easy and even a little disorienting, but damn is it fun. This is one of the more addicting puzzle games I’ve shoved a ridiculous amount of coins into.
#4 – Strider
Ninjas. Yeah, ninjas were real big, especially in the 80s. However, this, in my opinion, made ninjas really damn cool. Just like Shinobi had done previously, Strider lets us see the life of a manga-inspired, futuristic ninja that flips, climbs, and chops all over the fucking place. The game is bizarre, fun, and incredibly challenging. There are simply some things that are hard to put into words, so just watch the movie and you’ll see why it’s so great.
#3 – Golden Axe
Some people are going to be upset this isn’t higher and I say let them vent. It is a very fun game, but a bit dated. In Golden Axe, you have the whole Conan mythos going on with barbarians and wizardry and so on, but you also have mounts, special attacks in the form of magic that can be stored and used when you see fit, and in general has become a definitive “must play” hack n slash. So what could possibly beat such a classic hack n slash?
#2 – Final Fight
That’s right, the O.G. of beat-em-ups. No, there are no mounts. However, this is a lot of enemy variety, great music, great bosses, great enemy placement, the final level is a giant gauntlet, there are plenty of weapons, there are three great characters to choose from, and in general this is a game you will play again and again and again. I remembered crying the day they replaced this cabinet with a Street Fighter 2 machine, but that’s another story for another day…or year, as it were.
#1 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
So a beat-em-up beat a hack n slash, which was also beat by the most iconic hack n slash of all time. TMNT may not have the level of clout it did back in the 80s, but goddamn were the turtles HOT. So hot in fact that Konami paid special notice and created one of the best go-to brawlers of all time. It wouldn’t be until The Simpsons that they would finally outdo themselves and I would argue that it may not ever happen again…at least, if I remember my arcade history correctly.
This was an incredible year. Not only did it round out the 80s, it showed us the best of the best. There were so many incredible games this year that a top 5 simply does not do it justice. However, I am confident in my picks. That said, you should DEFINITELY check out the runner ups. There are a few that I would stray away from (mostly the sport titles), but most of them are right up there if not better than previous top 5 picks.
So what Capcom games didn’t quite make it (but I totally wanted them to)? Well, Buster Bros., Dynasty Wars, and U.N. Squadron. Yeah, they literally could have had all top 5 spots. I shit you not. Then again, Konami also had Crime Fighters, Gradius 3, and Missing in Action…and don’t get me started on Namco, Atari, and Toaplan. Yeah, this was a damn good year and a great end to the 80s. And yes…”all your base are belong to us.”
Act-Fancer Cybernetick Hyper Weapon
All American Football
Cyber Police ESWAT
Don Doko Don
Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters
Ikari 3 – The Rescue
Ivan “Ironman” Stewart’s Super Off-Road
Legend of Hero Tonma
Line of Fire
Master of Weapon
Missing in Action
Prehistoric Isle in 1930
Skull & Crossbones
S.P.Y. – Special Project Y
Super Champion Baseball
Valkyrie no Densetsu
Vapor Trail – Hyper Offence Formation