Philly Front Office - Culture

PFO Culture: Video Games Bracketolgy Part 3 – the Arcade Gaming Bracket

At PFO Culture, we love our twitter-poll brackets. They’re 90% of what we talk about. The rest of the time, we’re talking about our Game of Thrones Survivor draft.

Now the occasion calls for another one, near and dear to our nerdy hearts. The Video Game Bracket. What started as an idea to have the 16 best video games, and then the 32 best, has blossomed into eight 16-team brackets, not including a 9th Play-in Bracket (take notes, NCAA) to let many of our dark horse/personal projects have a shot at glory where we couldn’t convince the others to give them a place within the tournament proper itself. That’s 143 games in this bad boy.

We definitely didn’t hit our deadlines for this bracket, but we blame that on March Madness, an amazing start to the Phillies, and of course Game of Thrones season 8. Without further ado, here are the 16 games in the Arcade Gaming bracket!

TMNT: Turtles in Time

There’s gonna be a heavy dose of side-scrolling fighting/adventure games in this Arcade bracket, and Turtles in Time is absolutely the best of those. You get to take Leonardo (chump), Michelangelo (putz), Donatello (nerd), and Raphael (god amongst turtles) on a fantastic journey through hundreds of thousands of foot clan chumps in both the future and the past in order to get the Statue of Liberty back from Shredder. What’s not to love? @AlexDerAnwalt

The Simpsons

Like TMNT, a platformer is perfect for the arcade. Not a terribly crazy plot, Maggie was kidnapped, so you had to get her back! You could play as any of the Simpsons gang, but everyone wanted to play as Bart. So a real master of this game could beat levels as Lisa, whose Jump Rope weapon was fine, but she wasn’t as strong as Homer, Bart, or Marge. Spoiler Alert, Mr. Burns is behind the whole thing, and it’s up to you and three of your friends to stop him. This isn’t too difficult of a game, I think you needed about $2 in coins to beat the whole thing if you were an average Button Masher. Not a bad way to kill an hour! @dpfective

Mortal Kombat X

Who doesn’t like a violent video game? I remember playing Mortal Kombat II at a pizza shop in Mt. Pocono – my parents hated that I played it, but they loved that I wasn’t bothering them. If you told 10 year old me that in 20 years, there would be a Mortal Kombat game with more characters, fatalities, and bone breaks, I would just stand there like a dazed Johnny Cage after a 10-hit combo. Finish Him! @dpfective

The House of the Dead 2

One of the best arcade games of all time was The House of the Dead 2. It was released in 1999, and there wasn’t a single arcade without it. The House of the Dead 2 made zombie shooting fun before zombie shooting was fun. I can’t even tell you how many quarters this game ate from my wallet. When I think of The House of the Dead 2, I think of incredible acting (sarcasm). This game was a blast to play with a friend, especially with all the cheesy dialogue and insanely difficult bosses. @mrcrockpot


Where all the other side-scrolling beat ‘em up games allow for only four players, X-Men allows for six (though the inclusion of Dazzler in the team leaves a lot to be desired). Battling through Sentinels, mini-sentinels, crocodile men, and at least 8 of the major members of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants was incredibly fun – especially if you had six friends to play with, unlike @BrianJacobsPFO who has only Babs Colangelo. @alexderanwalt

Gauntlet: Legends

“BLUE WIZARD NEEDS FOOD BADLY” was most often followed by a “You dick, didn’t you hear that? I’m almost dead” and a jab to your friend’s ribs with your elbow. This arcade game, which was released on several platforms at the time as well, is pure fun. Mash the buttons, and your weapon either killed the person right on top of you in melee or flew through the air and killed the skeleton across the map. The skill:fun ratio of this game was perfect. This game was so easy and fun that my mom played it until the wee hours of the night. @alexderanwalt

Street Fighter 2

Many of my fondest memories during my childhood were spent playing Street Fighter 2. At least in my experience, there weren’t many fighting games where friends completely banned specific characters while playing. Oddjob in Goldeneye was one of them. Dhalsim in Street Fighter 2 was the other. With leg kicks that seemingly stretched across the entire screen, Dhalsim easily goes down as one of the most frustrating characters to play against. Most importantly though, this game easily has one of the best soundtracks of all time. Guile’s theme goes down as one of the finest pieces of video game music ever. @mrcrockpot

Big Buck Hunter

Here’s a game I’m awful at, but it is definitely a great time. I recently played this against my brother (@tom_pfendt smoked me) and the accuracy of the Light Gun and the beautiful graphics really made me think Elk and Bears were close to my face. There’s no real plot to this which might be a deterrent to some, but it feels like real hunting: go hang with your friends and family, shoot some buck (or miss like me), and grab a beer after. @dpfective

Golden Tee

This was one of the first “bar games” where challenging your buddies to “Closest to the Pin” or “Lowest Scores” could win you a few beers. The large Spinning Ball was tricky to learn, but if you got good at, you’d never have to buy a round all night. “Get in the HOLE!” @dpfective


I’m definitely not a person that would be able to beat Galaga; however, when I found out you should let your ship get captured in an effort to make it easier, total game changer. I had never played a game like that before, and I remember feeling really cool teaching that trick to younger gamers in the mall arcade. @dpfective

Dance Dance Revolution

2 anecdotes I have related to DDR, and they’re both from college.

  1. My freshman suitemate didn’t have an Xbox controller, but he had his DDR pad. So watching Requiem for a Dream was made that much weirder when he had to Pause and Play the game by stepping on a controller.
  2. Then there was Grandma’s Boy. This scene has completely inaccurate game play, but the best trash talk ever: “Did I break it?”

DDR is a cult classic and should at least make it to the Championship Round. Either you love playing it or watching it, and no other game can say that here. @dpfective

Guitar Hero

Guitar Hero was revolutionary when it was released in 2005. However, this game goes beyond the arcade for me and the timing of this release was absolutely perfect. I was in my early 20’s, and there was nothing more fun than coming home after a very late night at the bar and crushing friends on “expert” with a tiny fake guitar. Some of my favorite songs on this game included Killer Queen by Queen and Bark at the Moon by Ozzy Osbourne. Good times. @mrcrockpot

Cruisin’ USA

Driving through the streets of San Francisco, dodging trolly cars, and getting air was great, but when you cross over the Golden Gate bridge into the Redwood Forest…I really felt like I was in the town. Cruisin’ USA will never be Gran Turismo, but this was the game that brought Pole Position into the 21st Century. That’s not too shabby in my book. @dpfective


Just like Angry Birds, they made a movie out of it!

Being able to pick up a bus of tourists and eat them, throw gas trucks at buildings, and “Be King Kong” is a really fun idea. Sure there’s a plot to this game, but in reality it was all about playing the “Monsters” in real life, and that is fun for young impressionable minds! @dpfective

Tekken 4

This isn’t your typical Punch-Punch-Kick game, this is a world class brawler. Multi-hit Combos, Tag-Team Combos, Wrestlers in Tiger Masks, Great Plot, and it had a Terrible Movie made about it. That means it must be a great arcade game. There’s never been a great video game with a great movie made from it – so using some backwards logic, that must mean Tekken 4 is a great video game! Plus if you have $3,500, you can buy this gaming cabinet on eBay (PFO Editors get on that for the “office”). @dpfective

Pac Man

One of the original arcade cabinets, Pac Man and its various sequels really are staples of the video game world at this point. Any of them certainly qualify. Wiki-deibs

The older games we selected for the arcade brackets are still relevant. Google built an entire Pac Man simulator into its Doodle one year. Pac Man was a large part of the underrated “Pixels” movie. And Pac Man is even in Super Smash Brothers! A game with this much staying power has to be considered a top Arcade Game. @dpfective

Which of these games will be our go-to game-on-the-go? Vote on Twitter April 20th-23rd to find out!

A few quick notes:

  • A game in a series that was already represented needed to be truly exceptional in order to include a second bid for that series within the brackets. If a series is only represented once, feel free to vote however you wish between that specific game and any other in that series.
  • We put games that were available on multiple platforms in whichever bracket we felt like.

Dave Pfendt

Dave is a tireless worker for Evil Corp, but loves movies, TV, books and he can't be all bad, right?

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