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The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked 

Video Games Lists
Updated July 15, 2019 2.3k votes 442 voters 39.4k views 58 items

List Rules Vote up the best arcade shooting games you spent all your coins and tokens on.

When it comes to the best arcade shooting games of all time, what tops your list? From light gun shooters to your classic run and gun action games, there's a ton of awesome shooting games out there. In fact, some of the best classic arcade games are shooters. In short, it's these types of games that so often took our quarters and tokens upon hours of hanging at the arcade. Whether you miss the good old days of 80s arcade games or you're heading to the arcade today, take a trip down memory lane with this list of the greatest arcade shooting games. 

Again, there's a long list of killer shooters, but perhaps the best of these thrilling games include hits like Time Crisis, House of the Dead 2, and T2: Judgment Day. Of course, you can't forget the ultimate classics, such as Space Invaders, Asteroids, and Galaxian—which were some of the earlier shooter games to hit arcades. Don't forget your 90s arcade games either, featuring popular favorites like Virtua Cop and The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Simply put, everyone has that one shooting game they head straight to when arriving at the arcade—what's yours?

Check out the list of arcade shooters below and vote up the games you think are the best of all time. If you see one of your favorites is missing from the list, go ahead and add it!

list ordered by
1
Metal Slug is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Released: 1996 (Nazca Corporation)

Genres (Video game): Action-adventure game, Shoot 'em up, Run and gun

Metal Slug is a run and gun video game developed by Nazca Corporation and published by SNK. It was originally released in 1996 for the Neo Geo MVS arcade platform. The game is widely known for ...more
2
Time Crisis is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Released: 1995 (Namco)

Genres (Video game): Light gun, Shoot 'em up, Action game, Light gun shooter, Rail shooter

Time Crisis is a light gun shooter arcade game released by Namco in 1996. It was later ported for the PlayStation in 1997, bundled with the Guncon light gun controller.
3
Galaga is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Released: 1981 (Namco)

Genres (Video game): Shoot 'em up, Action game, Space combat, Science Fiction

Galaga is a fixed shooter arcade game developed and published by Namco in Japan and published by Midway in North America in 1981. It is the sequel to Galaxian, released in 1979. The gameplay of ...more

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4
The House of the Dead 2 ... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Released: 2000 (Sega Wow)

Genres (Video game): Horror, Shoot 'em up, Survival horror, Rail shooter

The House of the Dead 2 is a light gun arcade game with a horror theme and the second game in the The House of the Dead series of video games, developed by Sega for video arcades in 1998 and ...more
5
T2: Terminator 2: Judgem... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Terminator 2: Judgment Day or T2 is a gun shooting video game based on the film of the same name, produced by Midway Manufacturing Company for the arcades in 1991.
6
Contra is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Released: 1987 (Konami)

Genres (Video game): Shooter game, Shoot 'em up, Action game, Run and gun

Contra, distributed as Gryzor in Europe and Oceania, is a 1987 run and gun action game developed and published by Konami originally released as a coin-operated arcade game on February 20, 1987. ...more

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#46 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #109 of 1,588 The 100+ Best Video Games of All Time, Ranked by Fans #19 of 263 The Best Classic Video Games

7
Asteroids is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Released: 1979 (Atari)

Genres (Video game): Shoot 'em up, Action game, Space combat

Asteroids is an arcade space shooter released in November 1979 by Atari, Inc. and designed by Lyle Rains and Ed Logg. The player controls a spaceship in an asteroid field which is periodically ...more

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8
Doom is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Released: 1993 (id Software)

Genres (Video game): Shooter game, Zombie Film, Action game, First-person Shooter, Science Fiction

Doom is a 1993 science fiction horror-themed first-person shooter video game by id Software. It is considered one of the most significant and influential titles in the video game industry, for ...more

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#82 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #13 of 1,588 The 100+ Best Video Games of All Time, Ranked by Fanslisted on All Super Nintendo Games: List of SNES Console Games

9
Area 51 is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Released: 1995 (Mesa Logic)

Genres (Video game): Shooter game, Light gun, Action game, Light gun shooter, First-person Shooter, + more

Area 51 is a light gun arcade game released by Atari Games in 1995. It takes its name from the Area 51 military facility. The plot of the game involves the player taking part in a STAAR military ...more
10
1943: The Battle of Midw... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Released: 1987 (Capcom)

Genres (Video game): Shoot 'em up, Action game, Scrolling shooter

1943: The Battle of Midway, originally released as 1943: Midway Kaisen, is a 1987 shoot 'em up arcade game developed and published by Capcom. It was the first followup to Capcom's earlier 1942.

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#35 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #91 of 793 Every Single NES Game, Ranked From Best to Worst #35 of 299 Every Video Game Set In WW2

11
Operation Wolf is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Released: 1987 (Taito Corporation)

Genres (Video game): Shooter game, Light gun, Shoot 'em up, Action game

Operation Wolf is a one-player shooter video game made by Taito in 1987. It spawned three sequels: Operation Thunderbolt, Operation Wolf 3 and Operation Tiger.
12
Space Invaders is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Released: 1978 (Taito Corporation)

Genres (Video game): Shooter game, Shoot 'em up, Action game, Space combat

Space Invaders is an arcade video game developed by Tomohiro Nishikado and released in 1978. It was originally manufactured and sold by Taito in Japan, and was later licensed for production in ...more

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'Space Invaders' Was So Popular, A 12-Year-Old Held Up A Bank For Coins #133 of 1,588 The 100+ Best Video Games of All Time, Ranked by Fanslisted on Nintendo 64 Games List

13
Virtua Cop is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Released: 1994 (AM R&D Dept. #2)

Genres (Video game): Light gun, Shoot 'em up, Action game, Light gun shooter, Rail shooter

Virtua Cop is a first-person lightgun shooter arcade game created by Sega AM2 and headed by Yu Suzuki. Its original incarnation was an arcade game in 1994 and it was later ported to the Sega ...more
14
1942 is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Released: 1984 (Capcom)

Genres (Video game): Shoot 'em up, Action game, Scrolling shooter

1942 is a vertically scrolling shoot 'em up made by Capcom that was released for the arcade in 1984. It was the first game in the 19XX series. It was followed by 1943: The Battle of Midway. 1942 ...more

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#10 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #54 of 793 Every Single NES Game, Ranked From Best to Worst #8 of 78 The Best '80s Arcade Games

15
Defender is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Released: 1980 (WMS Industries Inc.)

Genres (Video game): Shoot 'em up

Defender is an arcade video game developed and released by Williams Electronics in February 1981. A shooting game featuring two-dimensional graphics, the game is set on a fictional planet where ...more

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#105 of 263 The Best Classic Video Games #11 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Gameslisted on List of Gamecube Games

16
Silent Scope is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Released: 1999 (Konami)

Genres (Video game): Shooter game, Light gun, Shoot 'em up, Action game, Light gun shooter, + more

Silent Scope is an arcade game that puts the player in the shoes of a sniper during a series of terrorist incidents. The game uses a rifle that is mounted on the console, requiring players to ...more
17
Commando is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Released: 1985 (Capcom)

Genres (Video game): Shooter game, Shoot 'em up, Action game, Run and gun

Commando, originally released as Senjō no Ōkami, is a run & gun, vertically scrolling arcade game released in 1985. Its influence can be seen in various later games in the shooter game ...more

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#603 of 1,588 The 100+ Best Video Games of All Time, Ranked by Fans #143 of 263 The Best Classic Video Games #39 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games

18
The Lost World: Jurassic... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Released: 1997 (Appaloosa Interactive)

Genres (Video game): Action game

The Lost World: Jurassic Park is an action-adventure video game developed by DreamWorks Interactive and Appaloosa Interactive, and published by Electronic Arts and Sega for the Sony PlayStation ...more
19
Tempest is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Released: 1980 (Atari)

Genres (Video game): Shooter game, Shoot 'em up, Action game

Tempest is a 1981 arcade game by Atari Inc., originally designed and programmed by Dave Theurer. The game is a tube shooter, a type of shoot 'em up where the environment is fixed and viewed from ...more

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#29 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #28 of 78 The Best '80s Arcade Games #11 of 61 The Best Atari Games List

20
Zaxxon is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Released: 1982 (Sega)

Genres (Video game): Isometric projection, Shooter game, Shoot 'em up, Action game

Zaxxon is a 1982 isometric shooter arcade game developed and released by Sega. Some sources claim that Japanese electronics company Ikegami Tsushinki also worked on the development of Zaxxon. ...more

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#244 of 263 The Best Classic Video Games #54 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Gameslisted on List of Nintendo Wii Virtual Console Games

21
CarnEvil is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Released: 1998 (Midway Games)

Genres (Video game): Shooter game, Light gun, Horror, Zombie Film, Survival horror

CarnEvil is a rail shooter arcade game using a light gun. It was released by Midway Games on October 31, 1998. CarnEvil is noted for its graphic content and strong lifelike violence, peppered ...more
22
Star Wars Trilogy Arcade... is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Released: 1998 (LucasArts)

Genres (Video game): Shoot 'em up, Rail shooter

Star Wars Trilogy Arcade is an arcade game first released in 1998. The game is a 3-D rail shooter based on the original trilogy of Star Wars films and was released along with the special ...more
23
Police Trainer is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Chris Abraham added
24
Space Harrier is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Released: 1985 (AM R&D Dept. #2)

Genres (Video game): Shooter game, Shoot 'em up, Third-person Shooter, Action game, Scrolling shooter, + more

Space Harrier is a third-person rail shooter video game released by Sega in 1985. It spawned several sequels like Space Harrier 3-D, Space Harrier II, or the spin-off Planet Harriers. Space ...more
25
Time Crisis 4 is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked
Javier Marquez added Released: 2006 (Namco)

Genres (Video game): Shooter game, Shoot 'em up, Action game, Light gun shooter, First-person Shooter, + more

Time Crisis 4 is the fourth installment in Namco's Time Crisis series which introduces new features to the cover-based light gun shooter gameplay engine of its predecessors alongside a new story ...more

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