When it comes to hallowed arcade classics, comic-book games are more than represented. Hold on to your quarters, because we're taking a trip through the bowling alleys of yesteryear to dredge up the finest four-panel games in arcade history.
Superman - 1988
In this side-scrolling Taito title, Superman and his sidekick "Red Superman" team up to defeat alien invaders. Oddly, Superman's main power is not his heat vision but rather his "sonic punch."
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - 1989
Konami's side-scrolling adaptation of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's late adolescent amphibious shinobis was an arcade classic - the 1991 version for the Nintendo Entertainment System was borderline impossible (Bebop in Stage 2, rassum frassum).
Batman - 1990
In Atari's Batman, you controlled the Michael Keaton Bruce Wayne as he pummeled the Joker's hooligans. Although Danny Elfman's classic theme is present in the game, Prince's "Batdance" is conspicuously absent.
Captain America and the Avengers - 1991
Thanks to this Data East beat-em-up, the classic Avengers roster in my mind's eye consists of Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, and pasty Vision.
Spider-Man: The Video Game - 1991
Sega's take on Marvel's webslinger alternated between platform and beat-em-up modes. The game teamed Spidey up with Namor, the Black Cat, and Hawkeye. If this game was true to the comic book, it would be over in 5 minutes, as Namor would simply chuck Spidey's entire rogues gallery into the ionosphere.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time - 1991
Konami's time-traveling sequel to the first TMNT arcade title. Its intro song makes the "Ninja Rap" sound like pure doggerel.
X-Men - 1992
If you were sentient during the early 1990s, chances are you (and five of your closest friends) wasted an afternoon at this game's massive cabinet. Not only was Konami's X-Men a hoot to play, it also provided a hilariously idiosyncratic take on Marvel's favorite mutants. For example, Wolverine spoke with an Australian accent, Colossus had a spark attack, Juggernaut carried a bazooka, and Magneto's broken English is the stuff of legends (see: "WELCOME TO DIE," "I AM MAGNETO MASTER OF MAGNET," "KILL YOU YOU ARE DEAD," "COME X-CHICKEN").
Cadillacs And Dinosaurs - 1993
This Capcom beat-em-up is an adaptation of Mark Schultz's 1980s indie title Xenozoic Tales. Its sequel Volvos and Mastodons was nowhere as successful (we kid, we kid).
The Punisher - 1993
Capcom's Punisher title had Frank Castle and Nick Fury delivering some Final Fight-style beatdowns. Weirdly, the Punisher uses his fists most of the game. C'mon! Since when did Frank ever play fair?
Alien Vs. Predator - 1994
Incidentally, the AVP franchise began as a comic book - this team-up first occurred in a 1990 issue of Dark Horse Presents. In Capcom's version of the AVP mythos, aliens land in San Drad, California - Dutch, Lt. Linn Kurosawa, and two Predator warriors must contain the infestation. Sadly, this arcade gem was never ported to consoles.
X-Men Children of The Atom - 1994
The antecedent to the entire Marvel vs. Capcom series, Children of The Atom was noteworthy for great music, a range of X-foes, and Street Fighter 2's Akuma as a hidden character.
Avengers in Galactic Storm - 1995
This Data East fighter covered the 1992 Avengers storyline in which Captain America and company becoming entrenched in the Kree-Shiar war. The game oddly allowed players to choose primarily between 1990s who-cares Avengers (Crystal? Thunderstrike?) and equally obscure Kree fighters. You gotta love the Giant Man special attack, in which Hank Pym's meaty paw grabs your opponent from across the screen.
Marvel Super Heroes - 1995
Respect to Capcom for dusting off D-List villains such as Blackheart and Shuma Gorath for this fighter. And yes, the soundtrack is awesome.
Batman Forever: The Arcade Game - 1996
Acclaim's Final Fight-esque fighter tied in with the less hilarious of the Joel Shumacher Batman flicks. The video is from the Sega Saturn port.
X-Men Vs. Street Fighter - 1996
If your head didn't explode the first time you heard this existed, I'm not sure I want to know you.
Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter - 1997
Essentially Marvel Super Heroes + X-Men Vs. Street Fighter. To quote the immortal Stan Lee, "Nuff said."
Marvel vs. Capcom: Clash of Super Heroes - 1998
Capcom rejiggered the VS. formula and added their own characters to the game. If you had ever dreamed of a Mega Man versus Venom brawl, this game answered your prayers.
Spawn: In the Demon's Hand - 2000
A Spawn game from Capcom...who'd of thunk? Anyway, the 3D game was mission-based and required the player to embark on all sorts of extreme 1990s anti-hero missions. The gameplay here is from the Dreamcast version.
Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes - 2000
This game sported over 56 characters, but everyone only seems to play as the Sentinel, Magneto, or Cable in tournaments. The footage is from a console version.