This should be an interesting year as the dawn of the 90s meant Neo Geo. There are 77 games this year and while that’s a definite drop from last year, the rise in quality is obvious. The 80s were a great era, but what I’m interested in is seeing how many definitive “must play” titles there are in the 90s vs. the 80s. I’m also thinking of doing a final count and seeing which companies specifically “made” each era, if you will.
#5 – Bonanza Bros.
Yes, this beat out so many great choices and on first glance, it doesn’t look like much. Stick with me here, though. In this game, you play as one of two thieves (and you can play co-op). You have a gun, but mostly you’re going to be using stealth, doors, etc. to get through the missions quickly, snatching all valuables along the way. It’s really easy to get taken down and you can’t truly take out enemies, so in a way this is Metal Gear Solid, actually!
…well, not really. However, it is fun, funny, and legitimately challenging as time goes on. It’s the first arcade game I know of to utilize any sort of stealth and it does it pretty well, all things considered.
#4 – Aliens
This is going to seem like a cop-out, especially when there are so many other great games this year. This is Konami in their element taking a movie license and doing wonders with it. And it’s ALIENS, no less, which is a game that is often messed up by so many other developers. There’s lots of frenzied shooting, plenty of power-ups, and lots of ugly aliens to take down. While it may not follow the film very well, it is a damn fun action game and a must play for any Contra enthusiast.
#3 – Columns
Columns is a fun, relaxing game. Sure, it gets tense fairly quick as it is a puzzle game, but the music isn’t deliberately designed to give you a heart attack like Tetris. Some people may prefer that, but ultimately the visuals, sounds, and atmosphere overall is designed to help you think more clearly about the puzzle. That doesn’t mean it isn’t hard, but it does mean it’s a definite contrast to Tetris and another one of my all time favorite puzzle games.
#2 – Rampart
The idea of having a turn-based strategy game doesn’t sound like it would make an appealing arcade game and yet it is right on the money. Rampart forces you to think on the fly as you rebuild defenses for your fortress and work heavily on battering down enemy defenses as time goes on. Again, it doesn’t sound like much, but trust me when I say this is one classic you will not want to pass up, especially if you like games like Plants vs. Zombies.
#1 – Smash T.V.
This is the definitive winner this year. Why? Because it’s effectively The Running Man, but as a twin-stick shooter. It’s not my FAVORITE twin-stick shooter, though that will be coming up shortly. It is BALLS hard, but so damn fun, especially with co-op. This is a quarter muncher to its core and that has carried on not only with other games attempting to emulate its formula, but also to various ports and remakes.
Initially, I couldn’t make up my mind on what I would have for the top 5 and there’s still a part of me that wonders if it’s “right.” What it really came down to is what 5 games would I love to play right now back to back. Sure, Neo Geo started this year, but they didn’t start with the cream of the crop, obviously. Smash T.V. is a strong win across the board and I’m satisfied with my other picks as well.
At the end of the day, this marks the start of the 90s. There are some incredible titles this year and I would argue that stumbling across almost any of these would leave you satisfied. There are a couple of odd ones, but then you have classics such as 1941, Blood Bros., Combatribes, Magic Sword, Moonwalker, and even a Parodius title. And trust me, it only gets better from here.
1941 – Counter Attack
4 En Raya
7jigen no Touseitachi – Mahjong 7 Dimensions
Air Buster – Trouble Specialty Raid Unit
American Poker 2
Baseball Stars Professional
Carrier Air Wing
Castle of Dragon
Columns 2 – The Voyage Through Time
G-LOC – Air Battle
High Impact Football
Hit the Ice
Mad Dog McCree
Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker
Minnasan no Okagesama Desu! Dai Sugoroku Taikai
Pig Out – Dine Like a Swine
Pigskin 621 AD
Pistol Daimyo no Bouken
Rolling Thunder 2
Snow Bros. Nick & Tom
Thunder Force 3
Thunder & Lightning
Top Player’s Golf
Trio the Punch – Never Forget Me
US AAF Mustang