The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked

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Vote 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. 

Most divisive: Xenophobe
Ranked by
  • Time Crisis
    233 votes
    • Developer: Namco
    • Genres (Video game): Light gun, Shoot 'em up, Action game, Light gun shooter, Rail shooter

    Time Crisis revolutionized the arcade shooting genre with its unique cover and shoot gameplay mechanics, forcing players to strategize while facing waves of relentless enemies. Its compelling story of a special agent rescuing the president's daughter, combined with the innovative foot-pedal system, made it a popular and enduring addition to any arcade.

  • Metal Slug
    261 votes
    • Developer: Nazca Corporation, SNK Playmore
    • Genres (Video game): Action-adventure game, Shoot 'em up, Run and gun

    Metal Slug's fast-paced run-and-gun gameplay, colorful pixel art, and engaging humor brought life into the arcade scene in a way that few other games could. With multiple playable characters and an arsenal of unique weapons at your disposal, this game captivated players with its intense action and lighthearted charm.

  • Galaga
    183 votes
    • Developer: Namco
    • Genres (Video game): Shoot 'em up, Action game, Space combat, Science Fiction

    Galaga's simple yet addictive gameplay helped define an entire generation of space shooters, challenging players to fend off swarms of alien spacecraft while maneuvering their own ship around the screen. The combination of strategic movement, rapid-fire shooting mechanics, and memorable enemy designs kept gamers coming back for more.

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

    The House of the Dead 2 expanded upon its predecessor's successful formula by adding more intense gore, horrifying creatures, and tense boss battles. This light gun shooter thrusts players into a nightmarish world filled with undead monstrosities while providing an unforgettable cooperative experience that solidified its status as a beloved arcade classic.

  • Doom
    146 votes
    • Developer: id Software, Williams Entertainment Inc.
    • Genres (Video game): First-person shooter

    Doom is not only considered one of the pioneers of first-person shooters but also one that cemented its place in arcade gaming history with its visceral gameplay and gripping narrative. Players were entranced by the thrill of battling through hordes of demonic creatures on Mars while wielding an array of powerful weapons to save humanity from total annihilation.

    • Developer: Midway
    • Genres (Video game): Shooter game

    T2: Terminator 2: Judgement Day brought the intensity of James Cameron's blockbuster film to arcades by putting players in control of powerful mounted guns as they fought off waves of futuristic machines. With realistic visuals and authentic sound effects from the movie, this on-rails shooter offered an adrenaline-pumping experience that Terminator fans couldn't resist.