Arcade games are older than you think – they have been around for around 50 years, and have delighted countless people in those years. With such a rich and long history, it is actually the decade of the 1990s that is thought of as the ‘Golden Age’ of arcade gaming, when some of the biggest and best arcade games of all time were released. Today, arcade games, like virtually everything else, have gone online – you can sit at your computer and play roulette online or even the likes of Donkey Kong or Mario, but these are all games that have their beginnings in the 90s arcade boom, and so we will take a look at some of the best and most popular arcade games from that decade.
There are few more enticing coin or card-burning arcade games of the 90s than this chaotic racer from Hitmaker and Sega. As an exhilarating blend of speed-racing and score attack madness, Crazy Taxi tasks players with carting as many paying customers from A to B as possible. The bustling streets of hilly San Francisco make the experience even more intense and thrilling, producing the feel of an extreme sports game more than a racer. Its expansive scale and relatively sleek visuals give it a feel that’s both retro and modern. Still, Crazy Taxi taps into that fundamentally appealing trait of classic arcades; where players must grind out high scores while racing against the clock.
There will always be a market for the more nuanced brand of sims and flashier, grander basketball games. Still, the simpler, arcade-style variants – which include hits like NBA Hangtime and NBA Jam – have an addictive quality and distinct charm that’s rarely matched. Arguably the pinnacle of this subgenre, Midway’s NBA Jam proved this thrilling sport could be enjoyed in brief, chaotic stints of just a few minutes. The game’s fast pacing, two-on-two gameplay, and exhilarating “on fire” mode ensures tons of action throughout. Fouls, free throws, and the general laws of physics need not apply here. While the series has carried on in some form since the 90s, this breakout hit from ’93 remains the basketball champ for many arcade players.
Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3
Mortal Kombat was one of several games that set off a fighting game boom in the 90s. Unlike Street Fighter’s competitive balance and tournament approach, Mortal Kombat was more about the style. The martial arts tale grabbed major references from movies such as Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon. Besides the brutal, bloody Fatalities, Mortal Kombat contributed several arcade sequels and many memorable characters that appear in numerous sequels including the recent Mortal Kombat 11. Among them include Sub-Zero, Scorpion, Liu Kang, Jax, Kitana, and powerful entities such as Raiden and Shao Kahn. The series also introduced intricate lore and mythos stronger than its contemporaries. To this day, the Mortal Kombat series is hailed for having among the best storytelling of fighting games.
The 3D fighting game became one of Namco’s treasured masterpieces. This fighting game consists of fighters from around the world who compete using different martial arts styles. The 3D fighting system included side-stepping mechanics as well as a heavy emphasis on juggling. Tekken would later be followed by six sequels and two Tag Tournament spin-offs. The roster would expand dramatically over time. Later Tekken sequels even included a bench to go with the arcade cabinet so players could sit down while playing together!