The best arcade games that never got ported to consoles

On the other side of a widening abyss...

Back when I was a lad, knee-high to a grasshopper and listening to my sister's cassette single of 'Do the Bartman', arcade games were magical. And as I've grown up, home console ports of arcade behemoths have been my staple gaming diet. But there are a few that 'got away'.

These are the games that appeared in arcades, wowed everyone and then, for one reason or another, stayed firmly rooted to their sticky floors, refusing to come into the warmth and completely non-sticky embrace of our living rooms. And yes, before you say it, I know MAME exists, but it's imperfect in so many ways. These games never received home console ports and that is a crying shame. After all, just look at them!

Vertexer (Taito, 1993)

Love F-Zero? Well, look at this. Pretty much exactly where that series ended up, only in 1993. And in space. Amaze. There's very little on YouTube about the game, and what there is suggests a less-than-perfect frame-rate, but that's all the more reason for the game to be ported to a modern machine.

Wouldn't this look amazing on 3DS? I'll answer for you: Yes, it would. If Galaxy Force II can look new again in 3D, so could this. As it is, I've never played it, and probably nor have you. And, incredibly, it hasn't been ROM-dumped, meaning it's not even available for play on an emulator. That makes it all the more special, I say.

Terminator Salvation (Raw Thrills, 2010)

So what if this is a shallow but pretty shooter? The Terminator License alone would have been enough to make it sell, especially if it had been put out on PS3 with Move support. For starters, it would have supported Move, so surely Sony would have been interested. Right?

But no, instead we got the rather abysmal Terminator Salvation spin-off game and this arcade beauty was left to stare with its army of menacing red eyes into the souls of arcade-goers instead. So... nobody, then. Good-oh.

Daytona USA 2: Battle on the Edge (1998)

Seeing as how I love Daytona USA, own every home console version of it and gave the HD XBLA/PSN remake 4.5/5 at review, you'd think I would also know Daytone 2 inside-out. Well, I don't. I have played it a grand total of (counts on fingers... and toes...) once. And even then, it was the Power Edition that I played, not the Battle on the Edge original. No lovely dome background for me.

We're talking about a vintage AM#2 arcade racer that could feasibly be converted to anything from Dreamcast and upwards. Even PSP could probably handle it. Where's my Daytona 2 3DS edition? Eh?

Star Wars Trilogy (Sega, 1998)

Star Wars already had an astonishingly ace vector graphics arcade game which got ported to everything from ZX Spectrum to Gamecube. And even the mid-1990s Star Wars Arcade got an impressive 32X home conversion (possibly not 59.99's worth of impressive, but still...). And then there's this.

This later arcade offering is much more photorealistic, very similar in quality to the amazing Rogue Squadron II on Gamecube. You can even fight Darth Vader in first-person. And the trench run looks sublime. And yet it just sits there in arcades, probably taking up far too much space to justify its takings, meaning it's becoming increasingly rare as the machines get switched off. And likely dismantled.

Rave Racer (Namco, 1995)

I remember seeing this on a ferry in 1997 and thinking 'Namco is starting to milk the Ridge Racer franchise'. Oh how little I knew. That said, Rave Racer is actually a great slant on the traditional Ridge Racer arcade game. The jumps are more violent, the corners are cambered at unlikely angles... it's like an arcade version of the arcade classic.

But why no PlayStation port? Maybe Namco deemed it too similar to the original and therefore not really something they could charge 40 for. Probably for the best. But an HD version in a Ridge Racer collection would be very welcome.

H2Overdrive (Raw Thrills, 2009)

Looks like Hydro Thunder? That's because it is! Well, kinda. It started off life as Hydro Thunder 2, was developed by ex-Midway San Diego staff and Hydro Thunder's creator, Steve Ranck. Even the handling of the boat looks like the original's, which means this game is probably awesome.

NOT THAT I'D KNOW. No console port, see? And now basically no arcades either. So while we did get the rather excellent Hydro Thunder Hurricane on XBLA, we didn't get this. Even though Hurricane came out in 2010. A strange situation if ever I saw one.

Scud Race (Sega, 1996)

Room for one more racing game? Oh, go on then. This is Scud Race, which was spiritually Daytona 2... until Daytona 2 came out. And yes, we did only talk about this game on the site a short while ago, back in The greatest Sega games that never got released. So I'll keep this brief:

I want it.

F1 Super Lap (1992, Sega)

Oh god! I look at this game and it makes me want to cry. Not only is it perhaps the most convincing use of sprites to give the impression of full 3D I've ever seen, it's also officially licensed from the greatest year in all of F1's history: 1992. I'm sure you've seen my YouTube video of F1 2013's FW14B hotlap (right?) but this is gaming when that era was actually happening.

I love the attract mode. I love the colours. I love the way the castle in the distance is scaling so very slowly. Enough to make it glisten but not enough that its size really changes at all. It's beautiful. But now sadly never, ever coming to home consoles because it has McLarens in it. And Ayrton Senna. No cigarette advertising, mind. But there's no hope. This one's just a beautiful and unattainable dream. Except the sit-down 2-player cabinet version that sold on eBay for 46. I WANTED THAT.

Rail Chase (Sega, 1991)

Oh good. You know, I'm conscious that there have been a lot of Sega games in this feature and that a lot of them are racing games. Thought I'd dodged the bullet with this one, but it turns out it's made by Sega too. And the cart has wheels, so it's getting close to racing too. Dang.

But it fits the bill because it looks like excellent fun, with underground cart rides (it's the Indiana Jones bit, isn't it?) and overground cart rides (for variety), with some bits where it crashes off the rails and slides along on snow for good measure. Looks ace. Rail Chase. Roadhouse.

Which ones do you long to play?

Just one more thing to point out before we conclude: that image up there is of Sega Moto Champ--a 1973 mechanical arcade motorbike racer. That too never received a home console conversion, probably because it uses magnets and models instead of pixels and sprites. But it would probably be good on iPhone. Er... Think that's all the classics. Yup. Got any more? Comment below!

And if you're looking for more amazing, sadly completely irrelevant arcade-based content from GamesRadar, check out Where have all the arcade racers gone and The classic game appreciation section: Sega Rally.

Justin Towell

Justin was a GamesRadar staffer for 10 years but is now a freelancer, musician and videographer. He's big on retro, Sega and racing games (especially retro Sega racing games) and currently also writes for Play Magazine,, PC Gamer and TopTenReviews, as well as running his own YouTube channel. Having learned to love all platforms equally after Sega left the hardware industry (sniff), his favourite games include Christmas NiGHTS into Dreams, Zelda BotW, Sea of Thieves, Sega Rally Championship and Treasure Island Dizzy.