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Top 10 Best Side-Scrollers in the History of Video Games

FEATURE | ? Comments |

Author: Dante' R. Maddox  

The classic genre needs a little recognition. The only thing more fun than playing video games, may just be talking about them. What we do here and at video game outlets across the net is weigh in on popular conversations that we've all had in the real world. What you must always realize with this kind of article is that we are more enthusiasts than we are authorities. We are not dictating facts, but simply starting conversations. As an older gamer, my fond memories of games go all the way back to the first Nintendo. I'm talking about games like Ten Yard Fight, Double Dragon, and of course, Super Mario. I come from a generation of gamers who were viewed by our elders as "wasting" our time with moving cartoons that they couldn't quite understand. I've watched this niche genre evolve into the major entertainment force that is now considered, not only mainstream, but an industry that now leads the way towards the future of entertainment. Now that my qualifications have been established, I will get to the point.

If there had never been a Battletoads, Contra, or even Donkey Kong to set the bar for gaming, then would we have Batman: Arkham Asylum, or any number of Dynasty Warriors games? As the industry has reached new heights, they have done so with the help of their predecessors to lead the way. Don't get me wrong, Super Mario Brothers can only take so much credit for the jump from 2D to 3D, but you have to admit that gamers playing Mario and wondering "what if", are the kids from yesterday who are the game designers of today. A lot of genres made the jump from 2D to 3D with a few exceptions, but the genre that suffered the most, was the side-scroller, once the benchmark for serious gamers, running from left to right, delivering punishing attacks against an army of villains. When games went 3D, the format dipped dramatically, but because of the genre, we got Fable, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, and Diablo amongst others. So, what games were the true standard bearers of a now antiquated genre? Here are my humble suggestions.

10. The X-Men Arcade Game

The X-Men in all their beat em' up glory

This title didn't make it to home consoles at the time of its release, which completely mystified many a gamer. It serves as the once great effort in side-scrolling goodness, but in all fairness, it was one of many that used all too similar play mechanics. There are a number of games that could have been on this top ten list, but the X-Men Arcade Game was special. It was one of the few games based on an existing IP that allowed the players to do the things they had only imagined. The color palette was straight from the comic, the story was familiar to readers, and the cast of selectable characters ranged from the tried and true to the relatively obscure. But what really made this game stand out amongst its brethren was the enormous amount of players who could all toss a quarter in and play multiplayer the old fashioned way. The best kiosks had a dual screen projector and the ability for most of the cast to play together. For a few minutes or an hour (depending on your budget), you and your friends were the X-Men in all their glory. No comic book tie-in game has yet delivered that sensation in multiplayer since.

9. Flashback

Flashback side-scroller

Xbox LIVE arcade and PSN have in recent years delivered a slew of games that have breathed life into a sub genre of which Flashback was the undisputed champion in its time. Visually stunning in slick photorealistic motion-captured graphics, imagine Flashback as the updated version of PitFall, with a unique story that should have paved the way for games to put story before convention. Sadly, like the genre itself, putting the story at the forefront of basically everything else is still absent in video games even to this day. Flashback was one of the few games that employed several hyper realistic components, limited ammunition, über-realistic physics (sometimes frustratingly so), being chief among them. While linear in nature, Flashback was one of the early games that often allowed players to retrace their steps and revisit old levels. This might seem like a trifle to a modern gamer, but think about how real a world is when you can go back to another part of the game, like you can go back in real life.

(Continued on the Next Page...)

Posted on: 10/03/2012 | ? Comments
Tags: Classic, Retro Games, Street Fighter, Guardian Heroes, Sonic, Super Mario, Mega Man, Golden Axe, Metroid, Final Fight, TMNT
Dante' R. Maddox

The views of GameDynamo's writers are not necessarily the views of the website as a whole. However, we support freedom of speech and enjoy diverse opinions about video games. Hopefully you do too!

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