10 Best Rail-Shooter Games Of All Time, Ranked

Everyone loves a good rail shooter. The unique and solid mechanics make this genre exciting for many players. Rail shooters bring a lot to the table. You can enjoy them in nostalgic arcades or on different consoles. Each game stands out and combines a personal touch with exciting elements and stories.

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Rail shooters are incredible for those who want an immersive experience. Given that you’re only given one weapon (or similar weapon) and you’re set on a fixed path, the game’s limitations don’t alter how entertaining they are to play. To be successful in these games you not only need to be intense but also pay close attention. In the broad category of rail shooters, there’s an engaging story for almost everyone.


10/10 Time Crisis II

Title page of Time Crisis II

Time Crisis II – the second part of the Time Crisis series, which builds fantastically on its predecessor. Time Crisis II introduced co-op mechanics to the franchise, using connecting cabinets to allow two players to play simultaneously.

The game featured the classic pedal from the first Time Crisis. This pedal was used to move and shoot enemies. During its release, Time Crisis II was one of Japan’s top-grossing arcade games. However, the PS2 port had less positive reviews. Regardless, Time Crisis II brought a larger audience and had a huge impact on the rest of the series.

9/10 sin and punishment

Title Page for Sin and Punishment

Originally only released in Japan, “Sin and Punishment” didn’t deserve a wide audience when it was released. It was released towards the end of the Nintendo 64’s lifecycle, and many players were already moving to the next console.

The development took longer than usual for that time. Starting with just four people on the team, their hard work finally paid off. Sin and Punishment can be described as a rail shooter and shooting gallery. Despite being so unassuming, it has a legacy of being an intense and unique game that deserves a lot more.

8/10 Silent Hill: The arcade

Title screen for Silent Hill: The Arcade

Unfortunately, the Silent Hill Rail shooter never made it to consoles. This made it a niche piece of the Silent Hill series and an obscure video game overall. However, it’s still a quirky game for fans of the franchise to dive into.

There were two new main characters in Silent Hill: The Arcade. In the series itself, however, they hardly play a role. Gameplay involves shooting enemies that appeared in previous Silent Hill games. Admittedly, with its evocative elements, this game was a dramatic departure from the original RPG style that fans were used to.

7/10 Star Wars Trilogy Arcade

Title screen for Star Wars Trilogy Arcade

It’s no surprise that there’s a rail shooter for the Star Wars trilogy. Star Wars Trilogy Arcade is a virtual experience that any Star Wars fan would love. Unfortunately, it never made it past the arcade cabinets.

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Based on the original Star Wars trilogy, the game focused on intense and immersive gameplay, as if you were in the movies yourself. It had Star Wars-centric themes, in addition to three missions. You can unlock a secret mission while battling incredible bosses like Boba Fett and Darth Vader. The game is praised for its amazing balance between gameplay and story.

6/10 rec

Title screen for rec

Rez is a Japanese rail shooter that stands out from all other games of the genre. The developers decided to take classic rail shooter mechanics and combine them with elements from rhythm games. Together, this mix made a phenomenal video game.

Each of the game’s four main areas contained appropriate musical themes. A later limited edition of Rez came with a USB trance vibrator peripheral that jiggled to the in-game tunes and sound effects. Although Rez wasn’t the best selling at the time, it’s a rail shooter to remember.

5/10 Panzer Dragoons

Front cover for Panzer Dragoon

Unfortunately, the first part of the Panzer Dragoon series did not do well commercially. Considered a rare game in the Sega community, its release on the Sega Saturn was a major cause of its failure. Many gamers missed it as the console was unpopular at the time.

But don’t let that poor reception stop you because Panzer Dragoon was an incredible addition to the rail shooter world. The unique aspect of riding a dragon and your weapon being the dragon’s laser changed the public’s mind about rail shooters. It showed that these games can be more than just gun stories.

Front cover of Dead Space: Extraction

Even though Dead Space was such a popular franchise at the time, not many fans got to experience this great addition to the series. After its release on Wii, Dead Space: Extraction was later ported to PS3 along with Dead Space 2.

Extraction’s atmosphere was reminiscent of the first Dead Space. Exciting gameplay and a compelling story scratch the surface of what made this game stand out. It had a unique mechanic that involved dismembering Necromorphs to prevent them from regenerating. Classic dead space weapons like the plasma cutter were also included in the game.

3/10 Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles

Cover of Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles

While fans loved Resident Evil’s rail shooter, The Umbrella Chronicles, the latter part captured their hearts even more. As a prequel to Resident Evil 4, this game would fill in plot gaps for the main Resident Evil story.

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Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles was praised for its stunning visuals on the Wii. The great reviews made The Darkside Chronicles go public and reach new audiences. However, it can be confusing for those who haven’t played the series. This game is perfect in almost every way, with its familiar story and distinctive mechanics.

2/10 Star fox 64

Title screen for Star Fox 54

While the other games in the series have received mixed reviews, Star Fox 64 has seen Nintendo outdo itself. The game is known for being the best-selling of the entire series. Overall, it’s wonderfully ingrained in the minds of avid Nintendo video game players.

The 3D rail shooter has been revised and reinterpreted several times. In addition to the exciting and intense gameplay, the levels are magical to explore. Star Fox 64 was behind one of the most memorable experiences in a rail shooter. Ultimately, Star Fox 64 is simply a masterpiece.

1/10 The house of the dead 2

Title screen for The House of the Dead 2

The House of the Dead 2 is arguably the best in the franchise. The story tied in beautifully with the first House of the Dead since it was a direct sequel. The gameplay and B-movie setting alone make it clear that a lot of love has gone into it.

The House of the Dead 2 was released to mixed reviews, but its fantastic legacy lies in its memorable voice acting and campy story. Critics praised the game for its soundtrack and the variety of paths available. In addition, it’s a perfect game for those who love cheesy horror games.

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