A Guide to Arcade Games
What Are Arcade Games?
Though the subject matter and specific gameplay of each arcade game often differ completely from game to game, there are three general things they mostly hold in common./
First, arcade games usually involve a limited supply of chances to beat them, often known as “lives.” Once these “lives” have been used up by the player, the game ends, and the player must restart his or her game in order to continue. Non-computerized arcade games are coin-operated, requiring that the player deposit a certain number of tokens in order to play. When a player of one of these games loses all of his “lives,” the player may insert the same number of coins he or she paid to play the game in order to continue the game from the point he or she died.
Second, arcade games usually all feature “levels.” Levels are self-contained areas in the game. In order to finish a level and go to another one, players must complete an objective or objectives while remaining alive. These objectives can include fighting a particularly difficult foe, finding and retrieving an object, destroying all the player’s enemies, or any number of similar objectives. In story-based games, these levels often form a linear plot line, leading the player’s character to a climactic final level. Most levels are designed to be fairly short in order to keep the players attentive, with later levels becoming more difficult in an effort to test the limits of the player’s capabilities.
Third, most arcade games feature a special reward system where a player gains good things by doing well. These rewards can take the shape of extra lives, in-game currency, or special abilities often called “power-ups.” In actual arcades, players are often rewarded outside the game with tickets that may be redeemed for special prizes.
There are several different sub-genres of arcade games, including the following: time management, shooters, platformers, brick-breakers, and classic games.
Time management games usually require a player to perform a number of in-game tasks both quickly and correctly. The number and difficulty of these tasks usually increases with every level reached, and often involve working at or managing some kind of business.
Arcade shooters generally fall into two categories: shoot ‘em up, and first person. Shoot ‘em up games require a player to control a small avatar and destroy large amounts of enemies or hostile objects while avoiding enemy attacks. These enemies usually arrive in waves, each wave representing a level. First person shooters are obviously played from a first person point of view, in that the player is looking through a character’s eyes instead of controlling a character from a distance. The goal of first person shooters, as with shoot ‘em up games, is to destroy as many enemies as possible in a given level while avoiding their attacks, though FPS levels are usually represented by specific areas instead of enemy waves.
Platformers get their name from the “platforms” included in their level designs. Though platformer objectives vary from game to game, most platformers require the player to run, jump, and climb to a certain area while avoiding or destroying enemies. Many platformers also require the player to retrieve certain items as he or she moves from platform to platform.
Brickbreakers are exactly what they sound like: games about breaking bricks. Brickbreaker game layouts usually include some sort of paddle at the bottom of the screen, a ball that continually bounces off of anything it hits, and a wall made of some sort of objects that can be broken by the ball. The object of a brickbreaker game is to remove all of these objects by deflecting the ball with the paddle so that it hits them. In addition, the player must avoid letting the ball get past the paddle, as this will usually result in the loss of a life.
Past arcade games that have been culturally significant fall into a category of their own: classic arcade games. Though some games in this genre can also fit into other genres, most of them are very unique. “Pac-Man,” and “Centipede,” are two examples of games that fit into this genre.
The History of Arcade Games
Arcade games have their roots in the early coin-operated fortune-telling and music-playing machines of the 1920s. These kinds of amusements eventually led to the creation of the pinball machine in the 1930s.
Coin-operated game technology continued to develop over time. The 1960’s saw the advent of electro-mechanical games, most of which were released by Sega, including “Periscope,” an early submarine simulator, and “Duck Hunt,” a game that used a new technology called “rear-image projection.”
The first coin-operated electronic video game was created by students at Stanford University in 1971. It was known as “the Galaxy Game,” and was a version of the game “Spacewar,” one of the first computer games. Not long after that, Nolan Bushnell created the first mass-produced arcade game, calling it “Computer Space.” Bushnell went on to cofound “Atari” in 1972, a company that not only created many groundbreaking arcade games, but changed the future of gaming itself.
In 1978, Taito Corporation released “Space Invaders,” the first true shoot ‘em up game, where the goal was to eliminate as many waves of aliens as possible by shooting a laser. The game was very successful, and was eventually ported to the Atari 2600. It is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the top arcade game of all time.
In 1980, Namco released “Pac Man,” a unique game where the eponymous character cleared levels by eating dots and avoiding ghosts. This release was followed in the same year by Atari’s tank game “Battlezone,” and Nintendo’s platformer “Donkey Kong,” both of which are incredibly famous.
Meanwhile, video game console technology was continuing to develop, and advances in that area caused a drop in arcade game use during the late 80’s and 90’s. People began to realize that they had the ability to rent games for their computers or game consoles for a much longer time period and at a comparable cost. However, because people still appreciated those types of games, arcade-style games were produced for both PC and Mac computers during this time.
Some of the earliest arcade games for Mac computers were created during the late 70’s to early 80’s. These games included titles like “Lemonade Stand,” a time management game, “Asteroids in Space,” a shoot ‘em up game, and “Raster Blaster,” a pinball simulator. 1982 saw the release of “Choplifter,” a helicopter fighting game, and “Frogger,” a game where a player must move a frog across dangerous traffic to the other side of a road without dying. Several other games were released in 1983, including “Lode Runner” and “Zaxxon.”
Many other Mac games produced after this early period were either ports of existing arcade games or PC games that had been adapted for Mac computers. However, many original coin-operated games were created during this time.
The increasing popularity of the internet allowed arcade games a new lease on life during the 90’s and 2000s by essentially spawning a hundred gigantic virtual arcades. Casual online arcade games began to flourish, especially time management games like “Diner Dash,” a game where players must quickly seat and serve customers in a restaurant. Today, the largest reservoir of arcade games is not actually in an arcade; it’s online.
Who Will Like These Games?
Arcade games are made for people who play games for the challenge, and they provide a great sense of satisfaction with every level a player beats. They’re also good for casual or first-time gamers because most of them don’t have complicated mechanics and can provide a nice, unstressful way to relax and blow off some steam.