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Retro Arcade Games

Arcade Game Origins

Since retro arcade games are some of the most popular of the gaming genre, it's important to understand where they came from. The gaming company Sega created one of the earliest forms of electro-mechanical games, which were a precursor to arcade games. Periscope, the 1966 submarine simulator sensation, paired lights, and plastic waves to create a simulation of sinking ships. The year 1967 saw the Taito gaming company release its first competition, Crown Soccer Special, which utilized electronic pinball flippers.

The next wave of machines was focused on military action with guns providing first-person shooter-like gameplay. These games were still electro-mechanical and used rear-image projection. Their first, Duck Hunt, is known as a light-gun game, which was followed by the 1969 hit, Missile, which is widely considered the first arcade game equipped with a joystick and dual-control scheme.  

Rise in Popularity

The late 70s are considered the beginning of the retro arcade games golden age. With as much success as Sega had in the early days of the electro-mechanical games, it was Taito that led the genres charge with the first arcade video game in 1978. Space Invaders brought in a transition to arcade video games and even led to a rise in popularity for arcades in general. Soon thereafter, there was an influx of arcades throughout many parts of the world like the United States, Japan, and Hong Kong. 

There were a number of public places that found space for arcade games within their walls to help create more turnout, attendance, and revenue. Arcade games were then available in restaurants, movie theaters, bowling alleys, and shopping malls. Entire stores were opened up, known as "corner arcades", that were completely dedicated to arcade gaming. Blockbuster gaming hits like Galaxian (Galaxian), Pac-Man (1980), and Bosconian (1981), led to the industry racking up $8 billion in net worth by 1981 (which is equivalent to $22.5 billion in 2019). 

Evolution of Arcade Game Technology

As retro arcade games grew in popularity, they also advanced in technology. This technological advance happened in response to a slight decline in popularity during the late 1980s. Fortunately for the industry, however, the 1991 hit game Street Fighter II ushered in an era of competitive fighting games that swept the globe. People had not been as crazy for arcade games since their introduction to Pac-Man a decade before. The 1990s were full of fantastically entertaining and unique fighting games like the legendary Mortal Combat franchise, along with the Fatal Fury and Virtual Fighter franchises. 

Many historians will attribute the success of the arcade, coin-operated gaming industry to these fighting game franchises. After the fighting games kept the industry afloat, new technology led a takeover by racing and shooter games like Ridge Racer (1993) and Virtual Cop (1994), which created stiff competition for the home console video games that had become popular thanks to baseball games and other sport-based video games that people could play at home. 

Modern-Day Arcades

As arcade games moved into more modern times, people began losing interest, most likely due to the entertainment provided by home video games. However, these arcades were able to find a specific market using games that could not easily be played at home. Larger games that required lots of equipment like Dance Dance Revolution (1998) and DrumMania (1999) were very popular at local arcades because they simply couldn't be simulated at home. 

These refurbished arcades also began to focus on games that emphasized the user's performance rather than the quality of the game itself. This created a social component to the arcades that brought friends together in competition. Galaga (1988), Time Crisis (1995) and House of the Dead (1996) brought friendly competition and entertainment to games with sub-par graphics and typical technology. All of a sudden, the quality of games in the arcade didn't matter. People went for the experience. 

Arcade Game Mobile Apps

Today, it can be hard to find retro arcade games even if you go to an arcade. Certain bowling alleys might remain true to tradition and feature some of the classics in their mini arcades. However, few of the legends are still available on that list in legitimate fashion. Most arcade games are now more cheap, over-sized video games featuring the latest in pop-culture entertainment like Marvel and DC Comic characters. 

However, there is hope for retro arcade enthusiasts, and that hope can even be enjoyed in their own homes. Arcade game mobile apps are the perfect combination of the retro feel and modern technology. These apps join the classic arcade games with the modern enjoyment of online gameplay, and the result is a fantastic gaming experience from anywhere the user wants to go.  From airplane simulator games to the original feel of Pac-Man, mobile game apps have something old and new for everyone who wants to enjoy great games on their phone. 

While retro arcade games declined after the 80s and 90s, arcade game lovers can still enjoy many of their favorite games in a fun way on their phones.