Elemental Challenge – Day One: Arcade Games



Hello, NPCs, and welcome to the second annual 31-Day Challenge! This year, we’re taking an Elemental Challenge by our powers combined: Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, Heart! …Uh okay, wrong elements. We’re talking about game genres today, not environmentalist agitprop cartoons from the 90’s.

The rules are simple, if you’d like to participate with us in the event: Every day you’re challenged to name your favorite game in a specific genre for thirty-one days in a row. Leave your nominations in the comments below. You cannot mention a game you have already used in a previous day. Can you name a game for every genre on our list? Keep up if you can! Let’s begin…


For many of players alive today, gaming started in the arcades. These air conditioned, dimly lit havens were local after-school and weekend meccas for games of all shapes and sizes. A lot of our impressions of gaming undoubtedly formed in arcades, consciously or unconsciously. Arcades were the fertile crescent of video games, where games first took off, and when we entered them, it was like re-entering a digital womb.

I’d like to quote the Evergreen Sage Mage (wakalapi) who can only be with us in spirit today: “Now, as I play Tekken 7 in the luxury of my own home on my PC, beating faceless players online, or getting beat up, there seems to be something missing. I miss the human relational aspect of it all. I miss the wincing faces, the anger, the joy, the trash talking… I miss the invasive noise of being surrounded by arcade machines blaring away, the in-person community, the coaching, the rivalries and the drama.”

Well said. It’s tragic that arcades have largely become a thing of the past, which many of the favorites on today’s list emphasize, but they will always have a special place in the heart of this mage.

On with our picks for favorite arcade games!


FF3-NES-Summoner2.png  The Green Screen Mage

Crazy Taxi! Running people over for funsies! I mean taking customers to their destinations in an orderly fashion… Yeah, that’s what I meant.



blackmage  The Black Humor Mage

I grew up on a lot of arcade games. I had plug n’ play systems and Namco Museum for my PSP and PS2 that I played like crazy. I have an uncle who played arcades through the late-70’s to the mid-80’s as kid. It was his favorite thing, and to this day I don’t know anyone who is better than him at arcade games. He taught me a lot of different strategies for those games, so I’m not too shabby at them. I have so many favorites, but Ms. Pacman is my favorite. It’s such a upgrade from the first game and a much tougher too. It’s one I can be on for like an hour or two.



FF3-NES-Magus2.png The Red Hot Chili Mage (Stuff and That Reviews)

The Simpsons Arcade Game: I’ve never been much of an arcade person, and there are never too many good games on English arcades of my experience. However, if there is one arcade game I’ve always loved it is this. Of course, it gets extra points from its Simpsons license, but it’s also just a brilliantly fun beat-em-up game and one of the very best.

The Simpsons cover art


mystic_knight1 The Midnight Mystic Mage (Sublime Reviews)

After deliberation the Rush series is my choice for this genre. It is the first game that I sat there at the roller-rink pumping quarters in all night during a lock-in
until I got myself a high spot on the leaderboard. I can’t quite remember if I got first
but I know I was trying to all night, both the San Francisco Rush and Rush 2049 were
great versions so I did not choose one but this specific time was San Francisco. There
were a few others that I was very tempted to add to this category but I ended up
feeling they were better representations of another genre. (Honorable Mentions – Die
Hard Arcade, Star Wars: Racer Arcade, Time Crisis)



spoonybardmageright.jpg  The Spoony Bard Mage (Nerd Speaker)

I grew up a little late for arcades, and when I went I tended to play pinball. My favorite go-to, however, was Bust-A-Move AKA Puzzle Bobble. I loved Bubble Bobble, so this one always drew me in. Also, helped me learn angles.



FF3-NES-Geomancer1 The Five More Minutes Mage (Gamegato)

My favorite arcade game is Galaga. Who doesn’t love sliding a quarter into the slot and getting to shoot lasers? Even if my Galaga skills aren’t the best, I can’t help having some nostalgic fun. 



finalfourteenthmage  The Final Fourteenth Mage (Cilla vs. Games)

As a young child what could be more exhilarating than driving radically around corners whilst listening to The Offspring. Crazy Taxi was the one machine I’d always look for when we went to an arcade and I was always excited to see it.



HandheldMage1  The Hopeful Handheld Mage (Retro Redress)

Arcades are a rare beast in 2017, but whenever I see one, I always look for an Outrun 2 machine. That’s the sign of quality – if you don’t have this great sequel of one of Sega’s finest arcade games, then you’re not a real arcade in my eyes.



Rage Mage right  The Rage Mage

Nothing warmed my embittered soul among the smell of armpits and the burning hair of the arcades more than the torturous sight of Chiller. If you don’t know what it is, DO NOT Google it. I’d describe it as a game where someone wasted the time putting people up in iron maidens and the racks just to shoot at them anyway. And Red thought The Last of Us was too violent… bahahahahaha!! Nerd.



rmage2.jpg  The Well-Red Mage

I grew up in the arcades (Tilt, Fun Factory, the laundromats, Chuck E. Cheese and its predecessor Show Biz) so we’re starting off with a tough question for me, but when I find an arcade and enter it there are usually only a few cabinets I look for immediately. Chief of these is Centipede. I really like playing Centipede. It’s still addicting after 37 years. I love that old school color contrast, the beeps and boops and thump-thump-thump of the antagonist arthropod. The only other game I can think of right now that could take this spot would be Bubble Bobble, an equally enjoyable and lovable game.



One down, thirty to go! I want to give a private standing ovation in the comfort of my own home for the members of our magely writing team that got on board this event in such short notice! Great motivation, you arcane allies!

Readers, stop in again tomorrow for day two… appropriately named because we’ll be talking 2D platformers! See you there!characters4

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55 replies »

  1. Hooray! Day 1 done!
    & Lord C’ll havta agree wit Well-Red,
    Bubble Bobble was (& Is!) My jam!!!
    (Bonus points to Bust a Move tho, as It’s on my DS, a solid tie for most played vs Tetris!)
    Next!!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so behind on reading blogs lately! One day I’ll be all caught up… anywho, my favorite arcade game is Time Crisis 3! That’s because 14 years ago, my husband and I met at Tilt, chatted for a few minutes, then started playing that game together. We’ve been together ever since! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah it was pretty awesome… and that place doesn’t even exist anymore so it’s kind of bittersweet to think about. When they were closing down several years ago, they were selling all of their stuff and we so badly wanted to buy that cabinet… but it was like $3000 so no way we could get it!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s been a long time since I went to the arcade, especially since they’re sadly disappearing, and yet somehow being revived (so THAT’S what happened to my Phoenix Down). In the spirit of the revival, I’m going to go with the DDR knockoffs you usually find at such places as Dave and Busters or the like. I love DDR.

    If I had to pick an old school arcade game, the title would have to go to Ms. Pac-Man, which succeeded in making a better sequel than the original (IMHO), and the “Pac-Man with a bow” was one of the first (if not the first) playable female video game characters 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hahaha yes DDR! I like DDR too. I used to be pretty obsessed with it. I could play Max 300 on expert! Back when I was a thinner man. I remember playing DDR in the arcades once and this dude came up to challenge me, took off his jacket and started pirouetting on the buttons… awkward. I beat him, too. He might’ve been drunk except he had good balance. Now I really wonder if Mizz Pac-Man was the first playable female vid game character.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I lost a ton of weight just playing DDR when I first started back in my 20s. It’s so much fun, and I need to fit in some time to start doing it regularly again. I can’t quite get the timing down for the really fast songs, but I’m pretty good.

        I…think she might be!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I have not played many arcade games, so I will nominate Street Fighter 2. There was an arcade in a nearby leisure centre and, while I never actually played it, one of the most enduring memories of the early nineties for me was a load of kids gathered around the arcade, with stylised pictures of the characters at the top and Summer sunlight reflecting off a swimming pool nearby.
    I am happy that the description of the arcades from the Tekken 7 review was included in the article, I enjoyed that too. What is Centipede? What is Bubble Bobble?

    Liked by 1 person

    • SF2, can’t go wrong with that! I had to put wakalapi’s Tekken 7 quote in there. When I first read it, I got misty eyed. Centipede and Bubble Bobble are both arcade games you should check out with a quick search of this blog! We’ve reviewed both. You can click on the links in the post above to find them.


    • Even by means of stealing, Pac-Man is still a nigh perfect answer. It’s hard to think of an arcade game that’s been more influential and more beloved. I mean, it was one of the earliest games to include named characters and the first to have proper power ups. Zoinks!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve been wracking my brain on this … I think, purely based on how much I spent on them, either Street Fighter II or Time Crisis 2 would have to be the best ones for me. I must have spent a small fortune on those in my youth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • We may occasionally complain about how expensive games are today but in essence we spent the same amounts or more on our arcade favorites back in the day. SFII can’t be beat. By which I mean I could never beat it. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Heh. I never managed it in the arcades either. I don’t think I even made it to the bosses there.
        I’d not thought of that. You’re probably right there, especially if you got to play regularly.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Favorite Arcade Multiplayer was X-Men.
    Colossus was the go to choice because
    of his explosive area of effect power.
    Which oddly had nothing to do with his
    power of turning to metal, but was our
    favorite power in the game. Go figure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • They took lots of liberties. I remember when one of our local arcades got that cabinet and it was astounding playing it with a full team. There was always a line to get on the cabinet, too, but when it was my turn I just hogged it. “Nothing moves the Blob!”


  7. I’ve already talked about Mortal Kombat on my site, and Crazt Taxi has already been talked about, but… I was actually really loved Pac-Man. I was pretty decent at it, too, at one point. I obviously was not pro-levels of good, but good enough that I once spent about 30 minutes on 25 cents, which was amazing for little-kid me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s amazing and impressive for little-kid anyone! Heck, that’s impressive for adult-me, too. I’ve been playing spots of Pac-Man recently on the PS4 thanks to the Atari Collection but I’m still not to bueno at it. The thing’s a legend.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s tricky this as there are a lot of games that came from the arcade to home systems. I’m going for games I actually played on an arcade machine though.
    Crazy Taxi would probably be up there, but seeing as that’s already been picked a couple of times, I’m going for light gun games! The Time Crisis series would probably be my favourite there. Ducking behind cover for protection, playing with another player (with their own screen!) in co-op modes, the race against the clock. I loved it! I even managed to play the fourth game in an arcade with my wife last summer.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Picking just one can be difficult. I’ve been seeing a lot of Time Crisis mentions across Reddit and Twitter and I remember that game with pseudo-fondness, mostly because I was never good at it but I really wanted to be. I just couldn’t get the ducking timing down. I guess that means I’ll never be a good real life marksman. Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. This is a tough one because there are so many great arcade cabs, and I’ve probably spent a few hundred bucks over my lifetime putting in coins. If I had to pick one though, I’d go with the one machine I’d own if space, and cost weren’t prohibitive in my situation. I’m going to roll with Stern’s Berzerk.

    What makes Berzerk so great? Pretty much everything. Oh sure, I can already see people rolling their eyes at me “What? No Street Fighter II? No Simpsons Arcade? No other game made after the Sega Genesis, and Super NES were duking it out at home?” Berzerk is awesome. The robots have a great design. The spinning eyes, instantly bring up memories of the Cylons on the original Battlestar Galactica. The game has an excellent sound quality to It’s one of the earliest games to feature robust voice samples in it, and the tech is put to good use. The robots can even be heard saying “COIN DETECTED IN POCKET.” as you walk by. And that’s before you even start playing.

    For the five of you who haven’t played Berzerk, the premise is simple. You’re a lone human trapped on a planet of soulless killer robots. Each of them out to shoot you on sight. So in futility you try to escape. Being a high score game you never get to escape the planet. But you do want to take as many robots with you. The game puts you in a random maze. If you escape the maze, you’ll go to another random maze. These are procedurally generated so there are thousands of layout/robot combinations.

    Berzerk also has a risk/reward element that makes it worth going back to again, and again. For the highest possible score, every robot has to be destroyed on every stage. Do you try to kill them all, or do you escape? If you take too long, the invincible Evil Otto shows up to kill the crap out of you, and corpse hump you. Robots also make human mistakes. They can miss you, and shoot another robot. They can walk into an electrified wall. I forgot to mention the walls are electrified. Basically everything can kill you. Depending on the color of the robots they’ll have different difficulty settings. So the longer you play, you’ll find yourself seeing new colors, and feeling the panic setting in. But through it all, Berzerk is an exhilarating experience. Even all of these years later it’s a compelling game. It’s also unique in that it isn’t the typical puzzle maze game like Pac-Man, nor is it a traditional shmup like Space Invaders or Galaxian. If you’ve never experienced Berzerk you really should. Unlike other arcade games, none of the home ports really match it, though the 2600 version comes close. “THE HUMANOID MUST NOT ESCAPE!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s tough to pick an arcade favorite, isn’t it? Every time you and I interact I end up with another game I haven’t heard of that I need to track down. Thanks for giving the low down on games like these that may have flown under radars!


  10. Like the Spoony Bard Mage, I missed the bulk of the arcade craze, partially due to timing and partially due to growing up in a little mountain town. Fortunately, the quirky little town below us had a huge Penny Arcade full of old games (It’s still there, of course). I had a lot of trouble playing the arcade games because I died so often that playing was stressful. I stuck to skiiball and the one where you shoot spooky clown Vudu dolls with a ball cannon. Thanks to this, my selection for arcade games is not a nostalgic choice, but one based on recent encounters. There is a barcade near my home that has an incredible and old game in it that I love. I don’t know what it’s called off the top of my head, but allow me to describe it. It’s one of the old games where you look through a window into a box containing a mini airfield with a bridge, a mountain, a hanger, and other obstacles. When the game starts up, a little hologram (probably created with mirrors) airplane drops in and you control it with an up-and-down leaver and a throttle leaver. The goal is to maneuver the airplane under, over, and through the obstacles for the high score. Though not quite what people think of when they think video game or arcade game, I thought it suitable for today’s element.
    Thanks for the post and the challenge!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh gosh now what is that clown-cannon nightmare game even called? And how self-aware was it to anticipate that people want to fire cannons at clowns? I’ll see if I can get an expert on identifying it and your holo airplane game. Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 2 people

      • I decided to be a clever internet user and searched the Penny Arcade on Instagram until I found it. It’s most likely called Knock Down, if the huge text on top of the machine is anything to go by. I’ll have to swing by the barcade to find the title of the hologram game sometime this week!

        Liked by 2 people

      • I don’t recall any games using mirrors for holograms other than Sega’s Time Traveler. So I’m stumped. The only things close that I can think of would be Sega’s Sega Airline Pilots or Taito’s Landing High Japan (Both of these were huge cabs that simulated flying commercial planes. These came out around the time Sega made their 18 Wheeler game). Other than that, there was a game by Namco called Prop Cycle. I only know about this one thanks to seeing MetalJesusRocks cover it on YouTube. In it you fly a plane/bicycle amalgam through obstacles as fast as possible, popping balloons for extra time. It came out around 1996. If it isn’t one of those three (all were fairly uncommon from what I understand), then someone else will have to take the reigns.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. To this day, if I am in an arcade I need to play two things. Skee-Ball and Ms. Pac-Man. I’m assuming that Skee-Ball probably doesn’t count as we are talking about video games here so Ms. Pac-Man it is.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Okay, so! I had to think about this for quite a bit. Being the younger tag-along sibling, I spent more than a few afternoons at a local Tilt with my brother, both of us avid fans of Dance Dance Revolution. The thing is, it was quite popular, and often had a line (marked by I.D. or used gift cards laid on the machine), and it could take upward of thirty minutes before any one person went on a busy day!

    So my arcade favorite to pass the time was a Virtual On: Operation Moongate machine tucked away in the back. Much of my love for giant mechs can be attributed to that game, with it’s cool and colorful cast of playable mechs and twin stick controls that were simple but charmingly effective. I played that one machine so much, I learned just about every in-and-out of each enemy A.I.. I was pretty bummed the day it disappeared from that arcade, but, I’d like to think some other person out there at least had fun trying to wipe my name off of the fastest times!

    Liked by 3 people

      • Gotcha. I’ll probably go with comments, then, particularly since I can’t even remember the name of my favorite arcade game!
        My step dad worked in an arcade fixing the machines when I was a kid, so I played in the arcade somewhat often, but being observant has never been a strong suit of mine so I often recognized the machine just by positioning rather than the name of the game. I remember the game pretty clearly: it was a space shooter, and you could pick up different power-ups to change your lasers. Getting multiples of the same upgrade made that laser type stronger, but if you grabbed a different type it reset to level one of the new laser. One day I was so determined to beat it that I used up all my arcade tokens on it – it was probably like five bucks. I did win, though, so I guess it was worth it (though maybe not for my parents!).

        Liked by 3 people

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