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The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked

Updated October 6, 2020 4.0k votes 597 voters 53.5k views58 items

List RulesVote up the classic 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. It's games like these that so often took our quarters and tokens at the arcade back in the day. 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. 

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 Galaga—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. 

  • Galaga1




    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...  more
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  • Time Crisis2


    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...  more
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  • The House of the Dead 23

    DeveloperSega 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...  more
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  • Metal Slug4

    DeveloperNazca Corporation, SNK Playmore

    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...  more
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  • 1943: The Battle of Midway5


    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...  more
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  • Doom6



    Developerid Software, Williams Entertainment Inc.

    Genres (Video game)First-person shooter

    Doom is a 1993 science fiction horror-themed first-person shooter video game by id Software....  more
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  • Operation Wolf7

    DeveloperTaito 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...  more
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  • Area 518

    DeveloperMesa Logic

    Genres (Video game)Shooter game, Light gun, Action game

    Area 51 is a light gun arcade game released by Atari Games in 1995. It takes its name from the...  more
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  • T2: Terminator 2: Judgment Day9


    Genres (Video game)Shooter game

    Terminator 2: Judgment Day or T2 is a gun shooting video game based on the film of the same...  more
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  • Asteroids10


    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...  more
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  • Contra11




    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...  more
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  • Space Invaders12

    DeveloperTaito Corporation

    Genres (Video game)Fixed shooter

    Space Invaders is an arcade video game developed by Tomohiro Nishikado and released in 1978....  more
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  • 194213




    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...  more
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  • Commando14


    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...  more
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  • Defender15

    DeveloperWMS Industries Inc.

    Genres (Video game)Shoot 'em up

    Defender is an arcade video game developed and released by Williams Electronics in February...  more
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  • Virtua Cop16

    DeveloperAM R&D Dept. #2, Sega AM2

    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...  more
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  • Silent Scope17


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

    Silent Scope is an arcade game that puts the player in the shoes of a sniper during a series...  more
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  • CarnEvil18

    DeveloperMidway 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...  more
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  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park19

    DeveloperAppaloosa Interactive, DICE Los Angeles

    Genres (Video game)Action game

    The Lost World: Jurassic Park is an action-adventure video game developed by DreamWorks...  more
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  • Time Crisis 420

    DeveloperNamco, Nex Entertainment

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

    Time Crisis 4 is the fourth installment in Namco's Time Crisis series which introduces new...  more
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  • Tempest21


    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...  more
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  • Star Wars Trilogy Arcade23

    DeveloperLucasArts, Sega AM3, Sega Rosso

    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...  more
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  • Zaxxon24




    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...  more
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  • Battlezone25

    DeveloperAtari, Inc., Atari

    Genres (Video game)Simulation video game, Turn-based tactics, Vehicular combat game

    Battlezone is an arcade game from Atari released in November 1980. It displays a wireframe...  more
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