18. Tempest - Released back in 1980, this was one of the very first
arcade games. You used a dial rather than a joystick to control the game
which featured 3d images, but very primitive graphics. This game was at
a bowling alley that we used to go to and received countless quarters
from my brother and I.
17. Centipede - Another game from 1980, this one used a roller ball
to control the game. I always remember the distinctive sound of this game
and could hear if someone was playing the game the moment you walked in
16. Xevious - From 1982, this was a vertical scrolling game where
you controlled an aircraft and you could shoot or drop bombs as you
proceeded along the course.
15. Donkey Kong Junior - This was the sequel to Donkey Kong which
was released in 1982. I always liked the original a little better, though
this game was very fun and challenging in its own right. You control
Junior who is trying to save his Dad from Mario. As you will see, many of
the Mario related games were my favorites.
14. Mario Bros. - This was a spin off of Donkey Kong released in
1983. It introduced Mario's brother Luigi and allowed you to play with two
players simultaneously. The game takes place in a sewer where the two
characters have to defeat all of the pests that come out of the pipes.
13. Defender - This game was introduced in 1980 and might possibly
be one of the most difficult games of that generation. It required you to
use a joystick and five other buttons in fast paced game play. Though the
early graphics were nothing special, I always enjoyed this game and the
challenge it provided.
12. Frogger - This game was released in 1981 and is probably ranked
higher on many people's list because it became one of the arcade game
icons. The goal of the game was to guide the frog across a busy street and
then a river. Like most games, this became more and more difficult as you
advanced levels. I love the Seinfeld episode that centered around the
11. Zaxxon - From 1982, this game featured a space craft flying
through a fortress. "At the time of its release, Zaxxon was unique as it
was the first game to employ isometric projection, something of a
three-quarter viewing perspective. This effect simulated three dimensions
from a third-person viewpoint" which was pretty cool. I pumped my fair
share of quarters into this game.
10. Pole Position - Released in 1982, I believe this had to be one
of the first driving games and you were able to use an actual steering
wheel. That is pretty cool when you are not old enough to drive a real car
yet. I enjoyed Pole Position, but I have it on this list representing all
of the classic driving games.
9. Star Wars - This game was released back in 1983 and was based
around the original Star Wars movie. You pilot Luke's X-wing fighter
through several different levels. I was (and still am) a big Star Wars fan
and thus really enjoyed playing this game which also featured some of the
real character voices. It was at the roller skating rink that we would go
to and I remember playing that game more than I remember actually skating.
8. Pac Man - One of the most famous and iconic video games of all
time, it was originally released in Japan in 1980. It definitely became a
part of pop culture (including the 1982 pop music hit "Pac Man Fever") and
created a new genre for arcade games. I really enjoyed this game, but as
you will see, I enjoyed his wife's game a little better.
7. Donkey Kong - I always remember this game, introduced in 1981,
very fondly. Along with Pac Man and Frogger, it really seems to be one of
the classic arcade game icons. I give it additional credit for launching
the Mario franchise as well.
6. Burgertime - From 1982, the goal of this game was to create
hamburgers by walking over layers of the sandwich forcing them to drop
down while avoiding being caught by the hot dog, pickle or egg enemies.
Another game that definitely received a lot of my quarters as a child.
5. Tron - This game was based on the Disney film by the same name
and released back in 1982. It featured 4 subgames including: tanks,
cycles, spiders and a "breakout" style wall. Unlike Star Wars, I was not a
big fan of the movie, so I am not sure why we enjoyed this game so much,
but we played it a lot.
4. Q*bert - Released in 1982, this was easily one of my most-played
games. The goal was to hop from cube to cube and change the color of every
cube on the pyramid without falling off the side or getting caught by any
of the enemies. If Q*bert is caught by an enemy a dialogue bubble appears
with "@!#?@!" symbolizing swearing. Very challenging game.
3. Ms. Pac Man - Another game released in 1982, it is a sequel to
the original Pac Man. The game is almost identical to the original with
some subtle changes and of course the main character has a little red bow
signifying that she is a girl. The intermissions between certain levels
show scenes in Pac Man and Ms. Pac Man's relationship. I always enjoyed
this game a little more than the original and it rates as one of my very
2. Galaga - Released in 1981, this is technically a sequel to a
game called Galaxian. I feel this game requires as much hand-eye
coordination than any other video game especially as you get to higher
levels. Despite the evolution of video games through the years, I feel
this game still holds up as very challenging and very entertaining. When I
am able to purchase a classic arcade game for my own home, this will
likely be the one I would get.
1. Super Mario Bros. - This was released in 1985, later than any
other game on this list. Though it gained popularity more from the
Nintendo Entertainment System, it was also an arcade game. I am likely
biased a little by the ability to play it later on Nintendo at home, but
it was revolutionary at the time and my all time favorite classic arcade
It really seems like the golden age of arcade games was 1980-1982. There
are several on line websites where you can play some of these classic
games for FREE. If interested, here are a couple links...
• Triplets and Us Classic 80s Arcade Games -
• Project 80s Arcade -