Feeling Nostalgic: 9 Best 80s Arcade Games

The 80s were a great time for arcade games, and many of the best games around date back to that decade. Here are 9 of the best 80s arcade games we love:

1. Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong was developed in 1981 by Nintendo, and was actually a way for Nintendo, which is located in Japan, to break into the North American gaming market. It’s a classic, and the famous Mario character is in it, too! Did you know Mario was originally named “Mr. Video” and then later “Jumpman”? Both Mario and Donkey Kong became quick fan favorites of this platform game genre, where Mario is rescuing a damsel in distress from the giant ape Donkey Kong. It is not only one of Nintendo’s most famous games, but an arcade game classic that will quickly have you spiraling back to the 80s.

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2. Frogger

This iconic game by Konami was also created in Japan in 1981. It’s a simple gameplay idea where your object is to have frogs leap to safety across a treacherous river filled with many different obstacles. You can go the path alone or bring a friend along on the journey. It’s been adapted in so many different mediums, and the idea of Frogger is a classic one that many other companies have tried their hand at. This game would have a true 80s gamer pining for more.

3. Mario Bros

Even Generation Z knows this 80s age-old classic that is Mario Bros! In the game, Mario and his brother Luigi have to defeat different creatures from the sewers. Hilariously, both characters are Italian-American plumbers. It’s a sweet and funny game that also can get pretty tricky. Developed in 1983 by Nintendo, fans went wild for the two brothers exterminating other characters by flipping them on their backs and kicking them off the screen. This game has been adapted in a million different ways, one of the most famous ones being Super Smash Bros and Mario Kart Bros, but this arcade classic will never go out of style as it created the basis of many games that exist today.

Photo by Pete Pedroza / The Unsplash License

4. Tetris

I still see so many commuters on the trains frantically playing Tetris. This puzzle game was created by Russian game designer Alexey Pajitnov in 1984. The name is derived from the Greek “tetra,” the prefix for “four,” and the word “tennis,” which was Pajitnov’s favorite game. There are four squares in each block, and the objective is to align the falling squares perfectly like a puzzle. Tetris is so popular that even today it is ranked as the highest selling video game in history.

5. BurgerTime

The main player of this game is chef Peter Pepper, a funny blue-jeaned character who must navigate over different hamburger ingredients scattered across a maze while dodging other oncoming characters. The enemy names, astutely named Mr. Hot Dog, Mr. Pickle, and Mr. Egg, are also long-time favorite characters for this 1982 arcade classic.

6. Galaga

This futuristic game is a sequel to the 1979 Galaxian. In this space game, a spacecraft is placed at the bottom of the screen and your objective is to get your player to take control of the vehicle. The enemies are aliens, of course, and they scarily swarm towards you at the start of the game. Galaga definitely deserves a spot on the list for playing an important role in the scheme of sci-fi game genres everywhere.

7. Ms. Pac-Man

Created as a sequel to Pac Man, Ms. Pac Man is an undisputed classic from the 80s. This game revolutionized video games, as it introduced a strong female protagonist who found her way through four mazes, colorful graphics, and several different modes and challenges. This popular arcade game was the most successful American-produced arcade game of 1982, and quickly became a classic.

8. Defender

Along a similar genre of space games, Defender is about defeating invading aliens while protecting astronauts. It’s a classic shoot ‘em up style game, with vigorous horizontal scrolling involved. It is considered a huge iconic title in the Golden Age of Video Arcade Games. Fans were astounded by its compelling music and visuals that were one of a kind.

9. Joust

Developed in 1982 by Williams Electronics, Joust is a two-player game that is about cooperation. Your player, a knight, rides on a flying ostrich, defeating enemy knights who are riding atop buzzards. Joust synthesizes our love of medieval play with comedy, while also helping create a platform for cooperative games.