Re: Most underrated arcade games?
I've been cooking up an arcade-centric topic myself; maybe I'll expedite that since the subject has been raised.
I'd often pass on Asteroids Deluxe in favor of a game where I could last more than a minute or so. But it's crazy-intense fun trying to survive once the initial asteroids are broken apart and fragments are flying everywhere. I barely recall something about the sound being strange; it'd get louder and then act flaky, maybe during the UFO attacks.
Satan's Hollow is a game that seems to get less recognition. Surprising that it was released to begin with, given some of the hysteria over the occult-themed music of the time. Having to build the bridge adds a lot of challenge to the common scenario of fending off waves of attackers. After a couple of rounds the cloud of gargoyles swarming overhead increases to an imposing size and the going gets much tougher. A game as merciless as its namesake.
"The Devil is never a maker."
Beginning in 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, arcade games were great quarter-poppers until everyone started copying Time Killers, Street Fighter, and car racing games. :-P
A lot of very decent arcade games slipped by the radar - sadly enough - and I'd like to see some folks here mention arcade releases that weren't as popular as you think they deserved to be. Making my list:
Asteroids Deluxe - How did this get so much negative hype? The action was smoother, the control was better, the hit detection was better (allowing you to blast a rock that's right in front of your face), and the array of enemies kept you entertained far longer than the predecessor. This remains one of my all-time favorites.
Ataxx - Okay, I can understand why this one wasn't more popular. It's a turn-based strategy game, and such things are difficult to promote in arcades. And the arcade-going audience isn't really appropriate for a game like this. But for playing it at home, it's a blast.
Gyruss - This one is easy to pick up and play, and if you're into space shooters, it's awesome, especially since it's a shooter of another kind. No idea why this one didn't take off. The graphics of the title screen see a bit dated for the time, though.
Joust 2: Survival Of The Fittest - Setting aside the overused phrase in the title, this game left me little to complain about. The game expands its cast of characters, and allows you to transform your bird into a Pegasus! That's f**king awesome! According to the game designers, the shape of the game's display made it pretty much impossible to port this one to any gaming console, so it couldn't depend on the console ports to spread its popularity around.
Pac-mania - Again, this one got a lot of flak for some reason. Imagine Pac-man with a Zaxxon-like perspective, where the screen scrolls around, and each maze has new music and cut scenes in it. Not only that, but you can jump over enemies. Maybe this one was just too unlike Pac-man for many people, but it suits me just fine.