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Aaron Waite Aaron Waite
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Deserving of Cabinetry

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Modern games that should be arcade classics

There was once a time when gaming was done inside of arcades, and multiplayer meant getting face-to-face with both your compatriots and enemies alike, dumping pounds of quarters into machines in a bid to put your initials at the top of the leaderboards. Even though arcades have died and taken their place in our memories, the spirit of those games carries on today and inspires an entirely new generation of developers. Here are a few games that could easily have had cabinets in a Dave & Buster's in the '80s and '90s:

Scott Pilgrim Versus the World: The Game'

If you're at all familiar with the 'Scott Pilgrim' story, whether through the comics or the movie, you'll know that it's a love letter to anyone who grew up gaming in the '90s, and the game follows suit. Beckoning to classics like 'Double Dragon' and adding on the pseudo-RPG elements from 'River City Ransom,' 'Scott Pilgrim Versus the World: The Game' stays delightfully true to its roots, drawn with beautiful pixel art and sporting a surprisingly deep combo system and an amazing retro soundtrack by Anamanguchi. It's also hard as nails, making careful parries and counters just as important as your main punches and kicks.

Alien Hominid'

What started as a Flash game on Newgrounds grew into a full-fledged console release (and eventually a Game Boy Advance and Xbox Live arcade title as well) and stole the hearts of 'Contra' and 'Metal Slug' fans. With hilarious hand-drawn visuals and responsive controls, 'Alien Hominid' brought gamers back to the challenge of having nothing but three lives and a continue or two protecting them from certain death. The game cemented developer The Behemoth's status as an indie studio that could produce AAA results and polish, along with their signature humor and excellent boss design.

Castle Crashers'

The next game from the 'Alien Hominid' developers, 'Castle Crashers' was a proper RPG-beat-'em-up in the vein of 'Golden Axe' and 'Dungeons and Dragons: Chronicles of Mystaria.' Following four knights giving chase to an evil wizard who has stolen their girls, 'Castle Crashers' featured visceral combo-centric action and a customizable leveling experience that allowed for multiple New Game+ playthroughs. The bosses are probably the most memorable feature, however, including a giant barbarian, a literal catfish, an organ-playing knight, and even a fight with aliens in a crashing spaceship. Taking notes from the end of 'Double Dragon,' after every boss fight, your knights have to battle for the hand of the maiden you just saved, quickly turning a co-op romp into a full-blown arena battle.

The Geometry Wars' series

'Geometry Wars' started its life as a minigame tucked in the corner of a garage in 'Project Gotham Racing 2' and eventually became one of the best launch games for the fledgling Xbox 360. A 'Robotron'-esque twin stick shooter, 'Geometry Wars' reignited a whole new generation's lust for the top of the leaderboards. Its sequel added in a Pacifist mode (forcing you to use particular enemies against each other) and a Deadline mode (giving you three minutes to rack up as many points as possible), and the third iteration gave it an adventure mode which gave the battlefield a completely different shape, but the core gameplay remained the same. You're plopped down in the middle of a field, and your only goal is to survive as long as possible against the increasingly hectic waves of enemies. Pixel-perfect controls and a solid gameplay loop destined these games for post-arcade greatness.

Aaron Waite would like to remind you to keep your tray table up and your seat back in the full upright position.


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