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Japanese poster promoting the Nintendo Vs. System

Arcade games are coin operated entertainment machine found in restaurants, bars, video arcades, and other entertainment centers. Some of Nintendo's earliest games were arcade games. Though they aren't as popular as they once were, Nintendo still produces arcade games today.


Early Arcade Games

Nintendo considers their first arcade game to be 1975's EVR Race. They started picking up steam in the late 70's with games like Battle Shark, Block Fiber, and Computer Othello. None of these games were very popular. It wasn't until 1980 that Nintendo had their first arcade hit, Radar Scope. Since it was popular in Japan, Nintendo decided to send it to America. However, the game failed to catch on.

In order to keep the company from going under, Hiroshi Yamauchi, the president of Nintendo at the time, ordered a new game to be designed that could use the unsold Radar Scope machine. He put a graphic designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, in charge of the project, with the engineer Gunpei Yokoi supervising. They came up with Donkey Kong. The game was a big hit in America and Japan. There were two sequels and a spin-off.


In the 1980s, companies were trying to find away to make arcade games based on their console's hardware. Nintendo was no different, so they created the PlayChoice-10. The PlayChoice-10 could hold up to 10 different games at a time. The games were versions of popular Nintendo Entertainment System games. The first games released were Mario Bros. and [[Tennis]] in 1983. The last games were Mario Open Golf, Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom(Tecmo), Power Blade(Taito), Rockin' Kats(Altus), and Shatterhand(Jaleco).

The PlayChoice-10 games were in special expansion cards. They usually contained an unmodified NES games along with a extra 8 KB ROM. The extra ROM contained hints that were displayed on the bottom of the screen as you played.

Rather than continuing until the player loses like most arcade games, the PlayChoice-10 let the player play for a certain amount of time, no matter how many times the player died.

Vs. Multisystem

With the success of the NES, Nintendo decided to release a series of arcade games based on their most popular games. The games often had added two player game modes. The machines themselves usually had two screens, though some had one for cooperative game modes.

The system was first released in 1984 with Balloon Fight, Baseball, Duck Hunt, Golf, Hogan's Alley, Mahjong, Pinball, Tennis, and Wild Gunman. The last Vs. Multisystem game, Dr. Mario, was released in 1990.

Super System

The Super System was very similar to the PlayChoice-10. It allowed the player to play Super Nintendo games and was built around the Super Nintendo hardware. Also, like the PlayChoice-10, people played for certain amount of time, regardless of how well or poorly they played.

Only two games that Nintendo developed were released for the Super System: F-Zero in 1990 and Super Mario World in 1991.


Named after the triforce from The Legend of Zelda, this particular arcade board was jointly developed by Nintendo, SEGA, and Namco. It was first released in 2002 with the games F-Zero AX and SEGA's Virtua Striker 2002. This arcade hardware is still being manufactured today.

Nintendo GameCube Custom

A special, one of a kind arcade game, only one Gamecube Custom is thought to exist. The Gamecube Custom was offered as a prize for the player who had the best time trial on Mario Kart: Double Dash!! at Ottawa Super Ex in 2004.

Very few technical details are known about the game. It's believed that the arcade is based on the GameCube hardware and that it plays unmodified Gamecube games.

See Also

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