By Stuart Kerr of Liberty Games
As gaming evolves and we’re now able to fight our way through realistic warzones, face hordes of undead or stop nuclear attacks from giant robots, I can’t help but feel like video games just aren’t as fun anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I love next generation gaming as much as the next guy! However, you have to admit that the 80’s golden age of gaming was a lot more lighthearted and enjoyable than wading through a Modern Warfare Veteran difficulty. So step back in time with me and let’s recall some of the greatest games of the 80’s.
Donkey Kong (1981)
Before this loveable ape went around collecting bananas, animal tokens and launching himself out of barrel cannons, he was a menace who kidnapped Princess Peach! Playing as everyone’s favorite plumber Mario, it was your job to climb steel girders, dodge crazy fireballs and look out for flying barrels as you made your way to Kong in order to save the Princess. Incredibly, the game was made in 1981 and even to this day I still find myself giving it a go every now and then!
It takes a very strong willed person to not become completely hooked on Tetris. Even in this day and age, Tetris proves to be one of the most addictive games of all times. Needless to say, Tetris is by far one of the greatest games to be churned out in the 80’s. It’s quite easy to see the inspiration Tetris has had on the evolution of gaming. From Columns, to games like Super Puzzle Fighter, they all have an element of Tetris in them!
Duck Hunt (1987)
Armed to the teeth with a NES Zapper, the aim of the game was simple. Unleash your wrath on as many flying ducks as possible to achieve a high score. Who would have thought that such a simple game would’ve turned out to be so much fun! Admittedly, it’s not quite as fun as using the Wii Zapper on some mutating corpse, but back in the day this game was incredible!
It seems like such a simple idea, all you have to do is make it home! As always it’s not that simple, there are cars, disappearing turtles and floating logs all standing between you and your swampy home. So the question is do you make a manic dash for glory, or take your time and play it out like a game of chess? This game was truly universal hitting not only the arcades but most consoles of the time.
Although the sound effects may have sounded like a swarm of attacking killer bees Pole Position was a revolutionary game at the time. The arcade version came complete with a steering wheel and gear stick (which were still played on by many kids whose parents wouldn’t stump up the cash for a game!). The game also pioneered the ‘rear view’ racing style of racing games – where you see the car on the track – still used in games to this day.
One of the original arcade hits, Centipede again made its way onto numerous consoles. With true 80’s blip-blop sounds and great 8-bit graphics centipede still remains popular with die-hard centipedians. Shooting parts of a centipede and turning them into mushrooms may sound simple but it spawned a host of clones, as well as a home board game!
Q-Bert is definitively one of the most recognizable characters to emerge from the 80’s arcade games. With his colorful graphics and unmistakable protruding nose gamers of the time couldn’t help but help Q-Bert Qollecting Quarters! The aim of the game is simple, change the color of all the blocks in the pyramid, however as always there are forces at work to stop you, leading to a very addictive game! Q-Bert was not only a popular game but spawned an entire range of merchandise and an animated TV show!
Alex Kidd in Miracle World (1986)
Collecting coins, swimming away from the scary frog monsters and playing rock paper scissors at the end of each level, ah those were the days! If you had a Master System II then of course you were blessed with Alex Kidd being built into your console. Unfortunately this game ruined my fragile little mind as I still struggle to get that blasted theme tune out of my head!
It really doesn’t get any more retro than the little yellow greedy guts who used to eat Pac-Dots whilst avoiding those pesky ghosts. The fact that Pacman still lives on to this present day pretty much says it all! Pacman is probably the greatest game ever to be developed by Namco, which is really saying a lot!
Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap (1989)
Okay, so technically this is more of a classic RPG than an arcade game, but I just couldn’t bring myself to leave it off the list. The game definitely made a change from the linear games that were dominant in the 80’s. Players would get the chance to free roam across a 2D world and collect weapons, armor and clues. The player would also transform into a different animal after defeating each boss which ultimately really spiced things up. It was extremely addictive and had some of the best music I’ve ever heard in a video game!