Nintendo's arcade games

I was originally going to make a thread covering every classic Nintendo arcade game but then noticed this article covers much of that in detail:

Nintendo’s coin-op games in the '80s had a big impact on me. I went to various arcades throughout that decade and one of the most notable ones was in my local Chuck E. Cheese’s which opened in 1983. It wasn’t a typical one for the restaurant/entertainment franchise. This location was owned by Nintendo of Canada and also held their early offices. That meant it had a high concentration of Nintendo-made games. And I was pleasantly surprised to see it get a mention in the history book Game Over by David Sheff. If anyone has old pictures of that Vancouver area Chuck E. Cheese arcade (it was in North Burnaby near Lougheed Mall), I would love to see them.

I was already a big fan of Donkey Kong 1 and Jr… This arcade introduced me to the less popular Donkey Kong 3. While it wasn’t as good as the previous games, I still thought it was a neat take on the franchise to branch out into shooter territory.

And man was the cabinet art nice on these games.

The original Mario Bros., Popeye, and the Punch Out!! series also got played a ton. Most people think of the NES game Mike Tyson’s Punch Out!! first but the original arcade games had a level of detail with the art that couldn’t be replicated at home back then. The voice over commentary was also memorable (Body blow!). I highly recommend checking out Gaming Historian’s history of the series.

One thing that was great about playing Nintendo’s “VS.” series of arcade games in 1984-1985 was that it showed what was to come for home gaming. It was based on Famicom hardware and had ports from it but many of these arcade versions predated the NES in the West. Light gun games had mostly gone into hiding after the '70s so playing stuff like Duck Hunt and Hogan’s Alley in the mid '80s was a fresh experience. I played a lot of Excitebike and Slalom as well.

VS. Slalom stood out for me as it wasn’t a typical joystick game. It used simulated skis and poles for movement. This became more common in the '90s with Namco and Sega polygon games but in 1986, it was novel. I did later get the NES Slalom but it didn’t have as much impact without those controls.

Nintendo’s arcade presence was never quite the same for original content once the NES really took off even if they dabbled in it occasionally. It was a bit strange to see their logo on Irem’s R-Type in the Late '80s especially since console ports arrived on rivals like the Sega Master System and NEC TurboGrafx-16 instead.

Anyway, what are your feelings on Nintendo and the arcades?

1 Like

Donkey Kong is one of the all time greats and the original outshines it’s sequals. I’m positive it’s a game I’ll never stop playing.

1 Like

What do you think about DK and DKjr actually being made by a company called Ikegami rather than Nintendo?

It’s fascinating to learn about that stuff. Donkey Kong and Congo Bongo being co-developed by the same company is something I never expected back then.

Socks, stop jumping over that damn fireball and go rescue Pauline!!

It’s always nice seeing well restored Nintendo cabs out in the wild, and especially rows like this at shows and festivals

Wow. Never knew any of this.

The only thing I know about Ikegami is that they made high quality PVM-like studio CRT monitors. Never knew they were actually involved in video game programming, let alone with Nintendo.

Yeah I mean it’s why arcade DK has never been re-released until the Switch version, and that needed an intermediary to do it.

It was still designed by Miyamoto, who also drew all the cabinet art.

That article is a great read, thanks!


Taken from a barcade near where I live. I adore early 80’s Nintendo art.

1 Like

I used to be such a fan of Mario Bros. back in the day and it still bothered me there never was a port that was 100% accurate. Even on the nes I though it was a joke for how they neutered the graphics somewhat, but Vs. Super Mario looked and played perfect.

I hold Donkey Kong in very high regard - it honestly might be the best game available on the Switch!

1 Like