On a summer’s day when one of the treats would be to visit an arcade near the coast, there would always be one particular game that you would go to first; one that would not be available for the PC or a console.
Some games would gain a home release in time, such as Time Crisis 2, Tekken Tag Tournament and even Dance Dance Revolution, but some were stuck to the arcades; forever banished and for some, forgotten.
With gaming-bars and other places gladly showcasing off their arcade machines, there’s been a resurgence in those that never got a home-conversion, and it’s only now that some are seeing a home release, such as certain ‘Samurai Showdown‘ and ‘Punch Out!’ games.
With that, here’s a few games that didn’t make it to a console and PC release, and why I’m still holding out an arcade-stick-shaped candle for them to still arrive.
Star Wars Trilogy Arcade
Developed by SEGA and released in 1998, it’s an on-rails shooter which has levels spread across the original trilogy, mainly because it was a year away from ‘Phantom Menace’ debuting in cinemas.
Spread across three levels, an unlockable fourth and two boss stages involving Darth Vader and Boba Fett. You used the joystick to either deflect lasers or lightsaber strikes, or trying to down many TIE Fighters across the Death Star. There was even a ‘special button’ which, when lit up, would call for additional X-Wing support or other special incidents in other missions.
It was an incredibly fun game, which preceded the Rogue Squadron series so you had the first time in a Star Wars game where you felt totally immersed in the world of Star Wars. From the trench run to a speeder-bike on Endor, everything felt fresh for the time. It was released on SEGA’s ‘Model 3’ hardware, the same that Virtua Fighter 3 and other games ran on, so it would have been possible to see the game on PlayStation 2, but it wasn’t to be.
Jurassic Park: Lost World
Think of this game like Time Crisis, crossed with dinosaurs. Again created by SEGA, you and a friend could traverse the world on-rails with a light gun for each, shooting down Raptors, Tyrannosaurs Rex and many more from the Dinosaur breed.
Released in 1998, it’s a game that makes a lot of sense for the ‘Jurassic Park’ licence, especially when console-releases of the franchise were platformers or top-down games featuring characters from the movies.
Here, it’s a simple-shoot-em-up, with plenty of depth, fun, and roars. Released on the ‘Model 2’ of hardware from SEGA, this was on the same system (and engine) as ‘House of the Dead 2’, subsequently released on the Dreamcast.
I suspect that licensing issues prevented SEGA from converting this game to a home release, coupled with their own struggles in the console market at the time as well. But it’s still available to play, especially in Skegness as this writer played it back in July.
Ninja Baseball Batman
A game that is known throughout the ages as the game that got away. Released in 1993 by Irem Corporation, it’s a side-scrolling game that’s reminiscent of Streets of Rage, but with an Animaniacs-style that’s so unique, no game has come near it in the design and music in this genre.
You control certain baseball characters who need to recover stolen artifices from the ‘Baseball Hall of Fame’ across six stages around America. From Chicago to New York and Florida, every stage has its own uniqueness and, quite frankly oddities that simply make you play more of the game.
It’s also playable with up to four other friends, so a co-op time across these stages are incredibly fun. When you combine that with items such as a ‘smart bomb’ that wipes out all enemies present on the screen, it only adds to the randomness of Ninja Baseball Bat Man.
The name may fool you at first, thinking that the superhero Batman is now going into the baseball arena in a ninja guise, but let that pass and enjoy the game for what it is. Crazy, inventive, innovative, and a lot of fun.
Many are still clamouring for a home release, especially on the Nintendo Switch, but as Irem still have the rights and they are primarily a slot-machine company, it may be up to others to reach out to them and see if a port is ever possible.
There you have it; three games so far that were denied a home release. At the time, games like Star Wars Trilogy Arcade simply were too powerful for the current consoles at the time, such as the PlayStation and Nintendo 64.
But with arcade re-releases popping up thanks to 1UP and the Astro City Mini, alongside random releases on the Switch, there’s lots of potential for games long forgotten to appear once again.