Top 10 Rail Shooter Games [Best Recommendations]

We miss massive arcades, specifically arcades with tons of good rail shooters. Rail shooters have been one of the main reason some of us in America couldn't afford laundry machines, goodbye quarters! Rail shooters are designed to be hard, and to take all your money. Luckily, one day some rail shooters came to consoles, while wallets all over the world cried out with joy, and people smelled better because they could afford to do laundry! Some people are so good at arcade rail shooters they can use two guns, while playing both player 1 and 2 at the same time; we've seen people pull off crazy stunts!

We've been attacked by aliens, zombies, bad people, machines, and a variety of different monsters in rail shooters. These rail games have control of the protagonist's forward motion, while all the player does is shoot things in their view, and sometimes side-scroll all over the screen. Sometimes rail shooters provide you with an arcade gun, and sometimes they're enjoyed better with a console controller. Whatever your preference is in rail shooters, we've found the 10 below to be an outstanding example of what those games represent. We hope you brought some spare change!

10. Silent Scope

  • System/Platform: Arcade Games, Dreamcast, Game Boy Advance, IOS (iPhone/iPad), Mobile, PlayStation 2, Xbox
  • Publisher: Konami, Konami Mobile & Online, Inc.
  • Developer: Konami, Now Production, Konami Mobile & Online, Inc., KCET
  • Release Date: Oct. 23, 2000

Remember that time you saw that arcade game with one sniper rifle attached to the machine? Odds are you were looking at Silent Scope, a game that, despite its flaws, was very popular! The object of the game was to snipe the bad guys by putting your eye to the sniper scope, zoom in, and shoot. Many people recall the secret mechanic of the game, friends smacking the back of your head so you’d get a black eye! Or perhaps you were a fan of the higher difficulty setting designed specifically for people with glasses? Yeah, the game wasn't perfect, but it was still a fun game.

In Silent Scope it's your job to save the President of the United States and the American First Family from terrorists. Ported from the arcade to the Sega Dreamcast, the game didn't have a sniper gun like in the arcade, and that frustrated a lot of people. The lack of the sniper rifle was noticeable especially in the boss battles when you could have used slightly better aim. Like a lot of games out there, if you ran out of time, it ended your game unless you had a roll of quarters or something. Silent Scope was met with mixed reviews for the home version, and Gamespot gave it a 4.6/10.


9. Area 51 (Arcade Game)

  • System/Platform: PC, Sega Saturn, PlayStation, Arcade Games
  • Developer: Mesa Logic
  • Publisher: Atari Games, Soft Bank
  • Release Date: 1995

Area 51 is an arcade game loved by many, and widely recognized by people everywhere. Area 51, the rail shooter, should not be confused with the 2005 first person shooter by the same name, we're talking about the light gun rail shooter. We loved this game, and memories came flooding back when we saw the nostalgic Area 51 logo, with bullet holes in it. There is the potential of two- players, one person having a red gun, and the other having a blue gun. If you were crazy good at it, however, this was one of those games you could play as both players.

You're part of the Strategic Tactical Advanced Alien Response team, or STAAR for short. It's your mission to enter Area 51 and eliminate the Kronn, an alien-zombie hybrid, from taking over the base. Combining aliens with zombies might sound great on paper, but the plot was sort of silly in the game. People don't really pay too much attention to the plot in light gun games anyway, so whatever, at least it was fun! Put on your photo-realistic jacket and try not to kill too many friendlies!


8. Aliens: Extermination

  • System/Platform: Arcade Games
  • Developer: Play Mechanix
  • Publisher: Konami, Global VR
  • Release Date: Oct. 2006

We love it when movies and games meet up in a good way! There are many games based off Ridley Scott's science fiction franchise. However, this rail shooter is one game that deserves some love. We love light gun rail shooters, obviously, so here is another one, and this time the Xenomorphs are going for your roll of quarters! This game provides you with a two-player option, but this time the light guns are attached, so good luck playing both players at once! You play as one of the Colonial Marines, and your mission is to eliminate the rest of the alien threat on LV-426.

Why can't some of these arcade rail shooters seem to make it to consoles? We need to write our senators! Anyway, the game is intense, very intense, and it's also very fun! Attached to the rifle is a button for a grenade, if you're swimming in enemies. Some of the baddies in this game include the synthetic robots who are designed to preserve alien life, so prepare to lose all your money. If only they would release it to consoles, then some of us would be richer, and it would develop more of a reputation.


7. Star Fox 64

  • System/Platform: 3DS, Nintendo 64
  • Developer: Nintendo
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Release Date: Jul. 1, 1997

We suppose all rail shooter games can't be light gun games too. Fox and his crew are tasked by General Pepper to save Corneria from an assault, and then learn that Andross is up to no good. Star Fox 64 is a classic game, and remains an excellent example for rail shooters today. Although the primary story was 1 player, you could have up to 4 in multiplayer. When everyone ignored sleep, our friends stayed up all night shooting each other down, and when the sun came up you could get back to the main story on rails. Luckily this is one game that didn't require quarters, we can't even imagine what that would be like.

Star Fox 64 provided an immersive rail shooting experience, complete with a completely new rumble feature (at the time), and multiple paths that would take you to two different end bosses. Later, it was brought to the 3DS, and now people can enjoy all the fancier things that come along with that version. This game taught most of us the importance of shooting at weak points when it came to boss fights, because they could be insanely hard! We love going back to the N64 days, and the classics never get stale. Get out there in your Arwing, and don't forget to barrel roll!


6. Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles

  • System/Platform: PlayStation 3, Wii
  • Developer: Cavia Inc.
  • Publisher: Capcom
  • Release Date: Nov. 13, 2007

Oh look, Resident Evil made it on the list! What's that? they had a rail shooter? Yes, it's true, Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles was a light gun rail shooter for PS3 and the Wii! We got to experience multiple familiar locations in past RE games, and shoot the crap out of some zombies! There was a third-party attachment you could use for the Wii to make your Wii Remotes work even more like a light gun, and the PS3 had light guns you could buy too. You will play as one of nine characters from the RE games throughout the game, and relive important moments in the series.

Resident Evil also had The Darkside Chronicles, another rail shooter, but we thought the first one in the series was better suited to be on the list. While the Chronicles games were fun, the gun responses could be a bit clunky and slow, making the game harder than it needed to be. At the end of the day Resident Evil is well known everywhere, and you don't have to throw tons of quarters into a machine, which creates a winning recipe for the light gun rail shooter genre.


5. Terminator Salvation (Arcade Game)

  • System/Platform: Arcade Games
  • Developer: Play Mechanix
  • Publisher: Raw Thrills
  • Release Date: Apr. 2010

When most people hear Terminator Salvation there can be a ton of negative word association involved. Terminator Salvation already had a mainstream game that released on consoles; it was bad, and the movie wasn't exactly taking home any Oscars. Luckily, the arcade rail shooter version of Terminator Salvation, is leaps and bounds better than both of those things, and is one of the most polished rail shooters out there. The graphics and sounds are all amazing, while the Terminator robots don't stop from the very first moment you start the game. This is one of the hardest and most intense arcade games on the market.

Much like Aliens: Extermination this is not available for home consoles, and it makes us want to cry as a result. A game this good should be on as many systems out there as you can find! The companies that make these games probably make more money with the endless quarters players give, than a one-time payment option for home consoles though, which is a bummer. Players take the role of John Connor, and whoever player 2 is supposed to be, while mowing down countless machines in the war on Skynet. It's your job to put an end to Skynet, and save the world. Currently, The Pinball Company lists the game for sale at $6,499.00 on their website, so hurry before they're all gone!


4. Time Crisis 4

  • System/Platform: Arcade Games, PlayStation 3
  • Developer: Nex Entertainment
  • Publisher: Namco, Bandai, Namco Games, SCEI, SCEE, SCE Australia
  • Release Date: Aug. 2006

Time Crisis 4 may have been met with mixed reviews, but it’s still one of the best rail shooters out there! The PlayStation 3 version took some criticism for the motion controls, but many people were able to overlook that. Terrorists are smuggling in weapons, weird bug-like weapons like the Terror Bite (the name is cringeworthy). It’s your job to put an end to the weapons trafficking, and hunt down the enemies of the V.S.S.E. agency. Players will take the role of Evan Bernard, William Rush, or Giorgio Bruno to help accomplish their task.

The Time Crisis series has some of the most recognized arcade kiosks there are. At the time of this writing you can buy yourself Time Crisis 5 for $20,999.00 from the Game Room Guys website, and TC5 appears to be using foot pedals on the arcade machine. We have daydreams of one day having that much money! Seriously though, you need to play Time Crisis if you haven’t already, especially if you’re a fan of rail shooters!


3. Virtua Cop 3

  • System/Platform: Arcade Games
  • Developer: Sega AM2
  • Publisher: Sega AM2, Sega
  • Release Date: Mar. 2003

Oh yeah baby, it's time to shoot the crap out of some bad guys, Virtua Cop style! Unlike previous versions of Virtua Cop, the third installment was not released for consoles, and has us asking why? This is one of the best light gun games there are, and it's full of in-your-face action! Virtua Cop 3 contains 3 different difficulties, which also double as different stories! If you did well, you were able to play the fourth and final chapter named the Ultimate Chapter. The ECM is the name of the heavily armed crime syndicate you’re hunting down in every chapter, but the story will vary with each character.

We loved the intense gameplay, which seemed almost non-stop, especially when it involves taking down crime syndicates! You’ll shoot at barrels, helicopters, wannabe ninjas, and even a giant winged creature, which mutated from a man and has a freaking Gatling gun. Virtua Cop 3 has an insane story, but the gameplay is almost unbeatable in the rail shooter genre. We hope you brought a roll of quarters for this one!


2. Sin and Punishment: Star Successor

  • System/Platform: Nintendo Wii
  • Developer: Treasure
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Release Date: Jun. 27, 2010

The leaders of Inner Space created several variations of Earth, and these leaders are known as Creators who tend to kill all humans on an Earth when they promote peace. Outer Space sends a girl to investigate the humans (Kachi), but she loses her memory and ends up on Earth-4 instead of Earth-5 (her intended destination). Isa is asked to hunt and kill Kachi, but ends up joining her, and now must protect her from the forces trying to kill them both.

Sin and Punishment's sequel, Star Successor, is one of the best rail shooters there are. The amount of running that the characters do in this game makes us tired just watching, though. We think for a rail shooter this has one crazy complex story, and it's also a fun game, which is very important for a game to be. You will play as Kachi or Isa as you blast your way through the Creators forces using your Wii Remote. It plays like a version of Star Fox 64 where characters run around everywhere, while the game boasts a newer presentation, and humans instead of animal people.


1. House of the Dead: Overkill

  • System/Platform: Wii
  • Developer: Headstrong Games
  • Publisher: Sega
  • Release Date: Feb. 10, 2009

The House of the Dead series of games all have their own charm, but this one is comedy gold! The House of the Dead: Overkill is Pulp Fiction meets a B-movie with zombies. It’s as if Quentin Tarantino directed a videogame! It even has its own Samuel L. Jackson character, by the name of Detective Isaac Washington. We know that there are some people that need fair warning before jumping into it though, so be warned, there is excessive violence in the game. We also think people should be aware of the language because there is cursing in the music, dialogue, and it even contains bad jokes in the titles of the levels.

You play Detective Washington or Agent G., as you shoot zombies trying to stop an outbreak started by Papa Caesar. Each level of the game is designed like a B-movie from the start to finish of the level. To this day no one knows what the G stands for in Agent G’s name, which provides some hilarious banter between the characters. We also were impressed by the amount of stuff the game had to offer such as different modes, and a hidden story! We suppose the most important thing about this game, however, is that it’s fun. Be sure to have two players over for the full 2-player experience!


Final Thoughts

We think there a few honorable mentions here like Panzer Dragoon Orta, and Rez. A rail shooter usually varies in popularity from person to person, and we did our best to pick the best ones. Just reading the list makes us want to run to an arcade to play some good rail shooters. Does anyone have a roll of quarters we could borrow? Or perhaps we’ll just dust of the Wii instead. What is your preference in a rail shooter? Feel free to leave a comment below.

Samuel Mackey

Writer

Author: Samuel Mackey

I was born in Colorado Springs. I found myself around friends who liked to play video games and watch anime. The first anime I saw was 'The Slayers' original TV series on VHS. I will be going for a bachelor's degree in 'Health Information Management' starting August 1, 2017. Recently, I moved to Washington State and I am in a town that has less than 2000 people.

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