Y Magazine

Top 5 arcade games that defined a generation

The Y Geek Squad digs out those games of yesteryear that paved the way for today’s.



Pac-Man

There wouldn’t be any games today if it weren’t for Pac-Man. Sure, it wasn’t the first arcade game to be released in its time but it did something crucial than, say, what earlier titles did: it gave the people a taste of what gaming felt like – and ever since then, we’ve enhanced our gaming skills. It’s funny how driving a yellow ball (Pac-Man) through what can only be described as a dark maze has inspired some of the world’s greatest games. But, something about the gaming dynamics; escaping from the clutches of the ghosts – Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde – while gathering the pellets essential for its survival – poses a challenge that you just can’t seem to find in the titles of today. Thankfully, you can now play the game online or even on your web browser – just type in Pac-Man on Google Chrome, and you’ll be taken to the game.

Year of release: 1980

Street Fighter II: The World Warrior

Let’s get the facts straight: this game has wrecked more relationships in a shorter span than what one could ever imagine. Rewind the clocks back a decade and you’ll be reminded of the classic (trashy) Euro-electro music blaring through the corridors, and children screaming from the arcade arena in malls. Well, it’s safe to say that most of those kids were hooked on Street Fighter II. The game redefined the concept of multiplayer gaming – it allowed gamers to fight against each other using a joystick control. Of course, there really wasn’t much to it. You won the game if your hands were quicker than your opponent’s. Nevertheless, the satisfaction from knocking out (KO) your friend in the sight of several bystanders was something to behold.

Year of release: 1991

Jurassic Park: The Lost World

The virtual reality (VR) games of today have nothing on the Jurassic Park game from the late 1990s. The game pitted you against some of the world’s most vicious dinosaurs – think the Tyrannosaurus Rex and velociraptors. What’s better is that all you really got to defend yourself was a light gun. The chills and thrills you experienced, though made it all worth it. The game took you through some scenic places, most of which resemble the lands from the original Jurassic Park movie, and your aim was to make it through to the end alive. Since, VR gaming was only slowly getting a move on, you were cocooned in a cabin protected by curtains while gaming in the mall. This made it popular among teens (for different reasons), but for geeks like us, it was 15 minutes of pure gaming. 

Year of release: 1997

Sega Rally

Ah! Sega Rally was a child’s ultimate dream and a parent’s nightmare. Simply put, it was almost always – at least until the early 2000s – one of the most expensive games you could play in a mall. Moreover, its dreadful physics engine, and disjointed steering and pedals made it feel like you were riding around on a horse cart. But, boy, it worked: The number of smiles that it imparted on little kids would justify its two decades of existence. Not to forget, it was also the only way a little child could ever legally get behind the wheel of a car. Let’s just say that we’ve spent more hours ogling the screen making car noises while yanking at the steering than we’re proud of.

Year of release: 1994

Virtua Cop

If you thought playing cops and robbers was cool, get a load of this: the Virtua Cop not only takes the game to the next level, it also gives you laser-guided guns to shoot your enemies. Granted, your luck in finishing the game relied on how many weeks’ savings you decided to put into the game – because, let’s face it: the robbers were just too smart. Things get monumentally hard from the Level 4 mark, and you’ll be counting your lucky stars to make it through unscathed. Still, the 3D modelling was on top of its game, overshadowing nearly every other competitor in the business. Something about looking a terrorist in the eye while slowly pulling the trigger has its own charm. Thus, it remains one of our favourite shooters.

Year of release: 1995