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Retro Friday: Great arcade games no one played

by Zaid Kriel (Zaid)  Posted Friday, March 01, 2013 11:49:43 AM


One of the best things about the old arcades and corner shops of the 80s and 90s was the awesome variety of games on offer. It wasn't just a case of being able to choose between playing a shoot-'em-up or a beat-'em-up, it was also that the selections tended to cross time as well. Most good arcades had a delightful cross section of games that spanned the entire history of arcade cabinets. So it was common to find Rally X in the same arcade as Virtua Racer or Double Dragon alongside Captain Commando.

This cornucopia of choice wasn't without a downside. Since we had this expansive list of quality games to choose from, inevitably, many great games wouldn't get the attention due to them. Even at 50c a pop - 20c if you played at a corner shop - there was only so much money available to play games. So who can blame the discerning 11-year-old for choosing Aliens vs Predator over Raiden.

With that in mind here's my selection of arcade games that, for whatever reason (Street Fighter II! It was Street Fighter II!) nobody seemed to play.

The Cliffhanger: Edward Randy

The Cliffhanger: Edward Randy was Uncharted before we had the technology to make Uncharted. The similarities lie more in the premise than the execution, since Cliffhanger was more of a side-scrolling action platformer. Like Uncharted, the game featured some completely ridiculous set pieces, like levels that had the hero battling Nazi's while running on the wings of flying bi-planes that later crashed into a river. It was an over the top mess of a game that was simply exhilarating to play.

Golden Ax: Revenge of Death Adder

Most people know that there were two sequels to Golden Ax that appeared on the Mega Drive, but this vastly superior arcade sequel seems to be something of a hidden gem. I myself have only ever played it in the wild in one location, the old Wonderland arcade at Tygervalley Centre in Cape Town. The style of gameplay is pretty obvious, the game being a direct sequel to Golden Ax, but it was all just more slickly done, with better animation and tighter controls, plus four player co-op and combo moves. It's the true sequel that Golden Ax deserved, that unfortunately no one ever played.

GunForce I & II

GunForce and its sequel were basically the forebears to the SNK classic Metal Slug. I don't think anyone can deny the thematic connection there. Unlike Metal Slug, which was one of those games that you just found everywhere, the GunForce games slipped under the radar. The games were intensely chaotic and demanded your full attention. To successfully complete them, you needed to enter a Zen-like state of immersion, which was fortunately easy to do thanks to the games rockin' soundtrack.


Cadash may be the exception to the rule of being overlooked in favour of other games. I saw Cadash at many arcades, and often saw people playing it, but the problem with Cadash was that it was an RPG sitting in a sea of twitch-style, reflex-based games. People had the wrong expectation of how the game was supposed to played: Grind for levels and loot, boost your stats, and then take on the boss characters. So since everyone just plowed through, they often got themselves killed and couldn't understand why they weren't able to defeat the boss. Nevertheless, Cadash was an awesome game, that deserved better.

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Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not MWEB Connect (Pty) Ltd



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