REPLY TO ALL: Favorite Arcade Games

For this week’s REPLY TO ALL, we are going to step out of the living room. I want to know if money and space are no object, what arcade game would you buy?

How many quarters were spent?


Thanks to Giant Bomb’s coverage of California Extreme, I cannot stop looking at eBay for arcade cabinets. I may or may not have multiple inquires out through Craigslist right now. I’ve got a list of a half a dozen arcade machines that I’d like to have, but I know I only really have room for one and that I don’t want to become that arcade collector guy. However, I have yet to find the machine that started it all for me, and I don’t expect to find it.

I have a very distinct fondness for the cocktail table arcade machines. There’s just something about sitting down and placing your drink on the table that you are playing on. Functional video game furniture! Growing up, my original arcade were the machines at our local bowling alley. It was there that I was introduced to the Castlevania cocktail table machine (or the Nintendo VS. Red Tent Macine). This is a purely nostalgic purchase since Castlevania is my favorite franchise of all time, and this machine is the memory I associate with my introduction to video games. Plus, I hear that the VS versions of games were harder ports than their console counterpart (so that’s why I lost so many quarters). I’d probably paint the machine black, and get a few other games eventually, but it all has to start with Castlevania.


I remember the Pizza Hut I frequented as a child had a Pac-Man cocktail table machine, but a Castlevania game would have been so much better since Pac-Man is so damn frustrating to play.

Good enough for the Moses bros. Good enough for you.

If I could own any arcade machine, it’d definitely have to be MERCS.

My brothers and I always played that at Time Out in Columbus and eventually rented it a few times for Sega Genesis. It was three player, so perfect for the young and impatient versions of the Moses trio. That game would be perfect in my living room, although the color scheme may not fit with my wife’s plans. The game itself is easy to pick up and with two other buddies could make for some stand out fun. I absolutely love shooter type games where your only goal is to kill endless lines of faceless troops and MERCS had plenty of that, plus some spectacular boss battles to boot.


That Nintendo VS table looks pretty awesome, I have to admit I’ve never seen that before. I too remember the classic pizza place arcade tables, I was a frequent player of the ones at Noble Romans Pizza. I have fond memories of the arcade versions of MERCS as well, I mostly remember it being one of those games where you never let off the “Fire” button.  I have, at various points in my life, scowered the internets for arcade cabinents. One of my roommates and I in college actually look fairly seriously at one point. This was also the roommate with whom I also seriously looked on eBay for plastic balls so we could fill up our basement like Chuck E Cheese. We always found them too expensive or too far from us. Having lifted a cocktail table cabinet before (though I can’t remember why or for who), I can tell you, those mofo’s are HEAVY. The last couple years, I’ve seen tutorials for building your own cabinets pop up (like here or here) on the internet, usually using old CRT TVs or old laptops. Every once in a while, I get motivated and seriously look into building one, but that motivation tends to run out quickly. Plus I would have nowhere to put it. I think when I move out of my tiny NYC apartment to an actual house, maybe I’ll look into building a cabinet of my own. Because who wants to totally grow up? That sounds lame.


I must’ve completely missed the train to Castlevania when I was younger.  I actually never played any of them for more than 2 min, and definitely didn’t know it existed as a cocktail table. I’ve never played MERCS either.  I do know the frustration of the local pizza places cocktail table Pac-Man game.  You play it because its awesome, and hate it because its Pac-Man.  The only arcade game that I remember dumping a lot of coin in was Mortal Kombat.  It was the first game I had ever seen with that much blood in it.  I guess it was what turned me to the darker side of games which was a glorious world of boomsticks and headshots.

Hey Sonya, think you could come over here for a sec?


I grew up playing the arcade games in my Dad’s pizza restaurant, and eventually had an Asteroids Deluxe cab in my room for a while.  He got his games switched out every few months or so buy the guy he leased them from, and I fondly remember played Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker and some game about the Three Little Pigs that I’ve never been able to identify.  I’d love to have any of those, but I think I’d just want to use the cabinet and go the MAME route anyway. Having an arcade that you could play any game from the Atari to Nintendo 64 eras would be pretty awesome.


You’re right Tommy if you own two cabinets, you almost have to turn the other into an emulator to put anything on it.

Stop shooting and let's dance like zombies!

But add Moonwalker to my list of a dozen that I need to own, thanks….

Why do I not remember MERCS? I went to the same damn Pizza Hut and all I remember from it was the only arcade version that I ever saw of NBA Give n’ Go. Was MERCS ported to anything? I hate feeling like I missed the train like Coop.

Ben – Did you pick a game? I think you got lost in your rebuilding fantasy.

Mortal Kombat is an excellent choice, Coop, but I’d have to go with one of the sequels. Probably MK III just to get all of the characters and ridiculous -alities. I agree with you, too, that that game ushered in my appreciation and need for ridiculous gore in any game from that point on.


I remember walking into the arcade and seeing a bunch of people huddled around Mortal Kombat. It seemed like people would go to the arcade just to watch that game. Some of the guys who played were passing around a piece of paper with all the finishing move combinations on it that they must have downloaded through a connection on Prodigy or Compuserve.

But the game I played the most every time I went to an arcade was X-Men. It was at a new height of their popularity with the Fox cartoon and that was when I was deep into collecting comic books. X-Men was my favorite everything around that time and I couldn’t get enough of the game. It was also one of the first games I played with 4 other players at the same time, wich each of us picking our own character.

So many buttons and joysticks!

If I see it in an arcade today, it’s the first game I go and play.


I forgot about X-Men! How many of those licensed 4 player fighters were there? I’d like to go back and compare them now to figure out which ones actually sucked, because I remember thinking they were all awesome. My shortlist:

1. TMNT Arcade
2. The Simpsons
3. X-Men
4. Captain America and The Avengers (better than X-Men?)

There was also this other weird game, all I remember was one of the characters was a robot being driven by a baby? Anyone?


Oh snap… i completely forgot about Captain America.  I actually remember liking that one better than X-Men. I definitely remember playing a few others, but the names aren’t coming to mind.


If I remember right, Captain America was the last one, and the most refined/fun. But if I had to pick one of those, I think I’d have to go with The Simpsons just for the overall entertainment value for having more of an appeal to get more people to play it.


Justin, you’re right, I completely got caught up in thinking “You know, I mean, I could totally build one” and I forgot to pick a game. Which is a tough, tough call. I remember games that have been mentioned like The Simpsons, TMNT, X-Men, and Captain America (which was definitely better than X-Men) really fondly. I remember spending a marathon session (with lots and lots of quarters) with a few friends in the game room of the Holiday Inn, playing all the way through TMNT. Also, the baby driving a robot thing sounds awfully familiar but I can’t place it for the life of me. I also seem to remember enjoying a game where I think you were a boy or a guy and somehow you turned into a gorilla who shot laser balls out of his mouth? Maybe that was a dream haha. Also, Cole, I remember doing exactly that, looking up finishing moves on Compuserve haha; I don’t know that I ever got to use them on the arcade version though. I also remember my freshman year of college, I needed to leave my dorm room while my roommate was um… entertaining a guest so I went to the student union and played all the way through Marvel Vs Capcom. Omega Red was a beast.

Man, I still haven’t picked a game. I think it might be Captain America because I remember that game being a lot of fun. I think I liked to play as Iron Man but I can’t remember why. So yeah, sticking with that.

The best multiplayer arcade game?

OH I just remembered a game I used to love that was in the Aladdin’s Castle arcade in my (our) hometown. I don’t remember the name but it was like a spaceship race game and you sat on a big motorcycle like thing to drive it and you got powerups like guns and boosters and things. Haha I wish I could describe it better but I remember it was a really big machine, it was like it has a waverunner attached to it. Man, I remember loving that game.


I played the Simpsons arcade game whenever I saw it somewhere. For some reason I always played as Marge so I could kick ass with a vacuum cleaner. On a semi-related note, has anyone played the Simpsons Arcade homage on the iPhone? It’s not a direct port, but it has a lot in common, with updated art and music. It’s kind of fun.


Kind of fun? Heck of a sell there, Tommy ;)

I think Time Out took the cake for the best named arcade in Columbus. All of you foreigners, were there any other great arcade names you can remember?

Also, Ben, I’m flying you home to help me when I buy a cocktail cabinet.

The team up moves were the best.


My brother and I almost came to fisticuffs over playing as Bart Simpson in that Simpsons Game. Justin, the game you are referring to is called Captain Commando. I had the game on a modded xbox and always played the baby in a robot suit, all though you had a choice between that, a ninja, a mummy and the titular Captain Commando (who happened to suck).


Ben, I think you are thinking of S.T.U.N. Runner. I too loved that game and spent about 45 min. the other night talking to Justin and looking on Google trying to figure out what that game was. It was the game I always went to when in Aladdin’s Castle. It was the first polygonal game I can remember playing.

I played my fair share of The Simpsons as well but I can’t remember playing Captain America in the arcade as much. Definitely played the home version though and loved that.


Actually, all of the console ports of those brawlers were awful. We tried to like them, but in the end that’s what made us go back to the arcade. As soon as the consoles caught up in technology, the arcades started to die. Those are the games I want. The games where we didn’t get a decent console port, but I’m also afraid that my memories of these games are much better than the real thing.

So guys, we put a baby in a mech suit. SOLD!

Nice find on Captain Commando, Ethan. Also, I giggled at the word, titular, and you all did, too.


Oh man, Captain Commando. It’s coming back to me a little. If i remember, the baby’s robot arms would shoot off or extend to punch people. And Cole, I think you’re exactly right. I remeber it being the first polygonal game I’d seen too. Haha the name’s been bugging me for years so thank you. And Justin,I’m always up for a project,no matter how ill advised or impractical. In fact, those are the best kind.


It sounds like Justin is getting himself into a very expensive habit while dragging Ben along with him. The rest of us are content with just remembering all of the great games we used to play. Or we just don’t have room right now in our houses for a machine. Yeah, that’s it.

Sources: (Image)
Home Arcades (Image)
Giant Bomb (Images
Hardcore Gaming 101 (Image)

3 Comments REPLY TO ALL: Favorite Arcade Games

  1. robeque

    I’ve wanted to build a mame cabinet for a long time. It would be really sweet. I also want a cocktail table pacman machine.

  2. JDevL

    I think I’m leaning towards getting one dedicated machine, and one MAME machine. Just hard to choose the game for the dedicated machine.

Comments are closed.