Arcades are seeing resurgence, and not just in niche Gaming Bars. Similar to the miniature versions of the original NES companies are re-releasing, there has been a steady stream of small arcade cabinets coming out. They range anywhere from $200-300, or more and contain, one, or a few games inside.
Some of the more appealing ones we saw had Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time built inside while another featured three X-Men games. So now is as good a time as any to talk about some of the stranger, but still great, arcade experiences one can’t experience anymore. Hopefully they come to consoles soon in some form, or another.
10 The Real Ghostbusters
The Real Ghostbusters released in arcades in 1987. It was developed by Data East. The Real Ghostbusters was the cartoon, which of course got a lot of video game tie-ins on top of other merchandising deals. Among them all, this is one of the better ones. Even though there are four Ghostbusters, the game only supports three players.
This might be because it’s a retooled version of a Japanese game called Meikyuu Hunter G. It basically plays like a top down shooter albeit with lots of ghosts and cool Proton Packs. This has never been released outside arcades.
9 Mega Man: The Power Battle
Mega Man: The Power Battle launched in arcades in 1995. It was developed by Capcom, obviously since this is Mega Man title. What may not be obvious is that this was a fighting game. Players could take on the role of the classic hero, his friends, or other Robot Masters like Cutman in this one on one fighting game.
We say fighting, but characters still do their usual shooty shoot thing albeit tweaked from the main games. It was included in collections during the PS2 era, received a sequel, Mega Man 2: The Power Fighters, but has not been seen since.
8 Avenging Spirit
Avenging Spirit launched in arcades in 1991. It was developed by C.P. Brain. It never got released outside of the arcade, but there was a Game Boy version, which played similarly. The game consists of a ghost being able to take control of enemies in this 2D platformer. Enemies can range from gun-toting soldiers to karate masters.
A second player can join the possession action. This secretly might be one of the inspirations for Cappy in Super Mario Odyssey.
Hook launched in arcades in 1993. It was developed by Irem. This film got an intense amount of games on almost a dozen platforms. Many of which were different in style too. There was a point and click adventure game on PC.
On SNES there was an action platformer, which was developed by Sony Imagesoft before they became a major console competitor. This arcade game then was a four-player beat ’em up starring Peter Pan and the Lost Boys.
6 Rohga: Armor Force
Rohga: Armor Force released in arcades in 1991. It was developed by Data East. The game did receive PS1 and Sega Saturn ports, but that was it. This is basically an auto-scrolling shooter, but instead of controlling a ship, or soldier, one gets to pilot a mech.
Instead of more normal power-ups like new guns, said mech can evolve, or get better as the level goes on. It supports up to two players.
5 J.J. Squawkers
J.J. Squawkers released in arcades in 1992. It was developed by Athena and also featured two-player co-op. As the name might suggest, either player is a bird, running through one zany course after the next in what is essentially a more chaotic platformer.
It might not star Mario, but this is one arcade platformer that is gorgeous and should definitely make a comeback. The game never left arcades.
4 Ninja Baseball Batman
Ninja Baseball Batman launched in arcades in 1993. It was developed by Irem and it has never been released outside of the arcade. The name was trying to perhaps allure arcade goers by advertising ninjas, baseball, and Batman, three important things in a kid’s life.
This four-player brawler is more like a Power Rangers team of color-coded ninjas wearing baseball uniforms. They fight anthropomorphic versions of sports gear like gloves, bats, and balls. Suffice it to say it is a crazy idea for a concept, but remains a treasure among beat ‘em up fans.
Osman launched in arcades in 1996. It was developed by Mitchell Corporation and it never released outside of the platform. It’s also single player only and definitely has the gameplay style and aesthetic of something like Strider.
The big difference is that it’s a lot more colorful, fast, and violent than the original Strider. No one is loosing limbs in a bloody fashion, or anything like that, but it certainly feels like a spiritual rival of some sort.
2 Gun Ball/Nitro Ball
In Japan this game was called Gun Ball while it was titled Nitro Ball in the West. Both versions released in arcades in 1992. It was developed by Data East and never left arcades. Unlike a lot of name changes, both games are different in terms of content, but their gameplay is the same: a hybrid between a top down shooter and a pinball game.
It’s kind of like the film Running Man and puts one, or two players against an onslaught of enemies in a game show like setting. Make it out and freedom and fame are at one’s fingertips.
1 Pu Li Ru La
We saved the strangest title for last. PuLiRuLa released in arcades in 1991. It was developed by Taito. Throughout the years it actually received many ports including the Sega Saturn, PS1, and PS2. After the 2005 PS2 release, it seemingly disappeared. One could call it a brawler although magic and weapons are more heavily involved.
It’s hard to describe in both gameplay and overall content. Let’s just say a lot of things had to get changed and censored when it came to the West, like the header picture we chose. Figure that one out. It is something every arcade enthusiast needs to see.