The 80s are considered the golden age for arcade games and it’s not hard to see why.
Growing technologies and leaps in visuals were the reason for the growing popularity (that and arcade gaming’s ‘one more try addiction’).
Many 80s arcade games have become fashionable today thanks to movies and TV shows like Stranger Things, or retro trends:
The following are the best arcade games of the 80s to check out:
Centipede was released in 1980 and soon became one of the most commercially successful games of the era. It was developed and published by Atari, Inc. and designed by Dona Bailey and Ed Logg, Bailey being the lead designer.
The game is a fixed shooter, where the player fights off centipedes by firing darts, through a field of mushrooms, all while dodging spiders, fleas, and scorpions.
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No best arcade games of the 80s list would be complete without Galaga:
Released in 1981, and like Centipede, it was also a fixed shooter. It was developed and published by Namco and is the sequel to Galaxian, which was released in 1979:
(Galaxian was Namco’s first great success in arcade gaming).
Shigeru Yokoyama led development with a small team. Although Galaga didn’t test very well during pre-release, critics later applauded its gameplay, innovation, addictive nature, and improvements made over its predecessor.
Now it’s a crowd favorite and it’s considered to be one of the most recognizable 80s arcade games today.
The player, while controlling a starship, is tasked with destroying the Galaga forces in each stage while dodging enemy attacks.
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3. Ms. Pacman
Released in 1982, Ms. Pac-Man is a maze arcade game developed by General Computer Corporation and published by Midway. It was the sequel to the eternally popular Pac-Man (released in 1980).
Controlling Ms. Pacman, the player must eat all the pellets in an enclosed maze while avoiding ghosts – that’s right, the same as Pac-Man.
Multiple names were considered, including Super Pac-Man, Miss Pac-Man, and Mrs. Pac-Man, before the final name was chosen for being the simplest to pronounce.
Ms. Pac-Man was acclaimed by critics for its improvements to its predecessor and female protagonist, some labeling it as superior to Pac-Man. It is considered to be one of the greatest video games of all time and one of the most successful American arcade games ever made.
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
One of the best arcade games of the 80s has to be the classic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
Released in 1989 by Konami and based on the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series, which aired in 1987.
In the game, up to four players can control the Ninja Turtles while fighting through various side-scrolling levels to defeat the Foot Clan.
This arcade game was released at a high point in popularity for the Ninja Turtles franchise, so it was well-received.
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1. Donkey Kong
The number 1 spot is for Donkey Kong, released by Nintendo in Japan on July 9, 1981, and in North America on July 31, 1981.
The game was designed by first-time video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto (a legend in the industry today). The developer was Nintendo R&D1 and Ikegami Tsushinki.
The gameplay focuses on moving Jumpman (later known as Mario) through obstacles to rescue the damsel in distress (Pauline) from a giant ape (Donkey Kong).
This game has stood the test of time, and its success inspired huge franchises that are still going strong today.