Retro arcade games give that nostalgic charm that holds a special place in our hearts, taking us back to our childhood in the golden era of gaming – a time long before advanced consoles ruled our living rooms when we would save our money through the week and visit the arcades to try and beat high scores or play against our friends. Complex storylines and realistic graphics are reimagining the way we play. Still, these classic arcade games captured the hearts of gamers across the globe, providing a simple yet addictive gameplay loved by everyone, young and old – here are some of our favorites we’ll play for a lifetime.
Space Invaders — 1978
The original slot games first came to be all the way back to 1891, a reimagined poker game with five drums that held a selection of cards. The play would insert a coin, pull the lever, and the drums would spin. Since then, we’ve seen a lot of advancement in the gaming world, especially in arcades, with Space Invaders being a classic we continue to play decades after its first release. Space Invaders was released by Taito and was a shoot ’em-up game that laid the blueprint for games to come. The aim of the game was to control a laser cannon at the bottom of the screen, moving it horizontally across the screen to try and defeat the waves of alien invaders descending from above. As you venture further through the levels, the aliens will become more aggressive and much faster, taking the intensity to new heights. Space Invaders was a success from the beginning, becoming a cultural phenomenon we continue to play today nearly 50 years later.
Pac-Man – 1980
Pac-Man – perhaps the most iconic arcade game ever released – is a timeless symbol synonymous with the history of gaming. Designed by Toru Iwatani and created by Namco, the game revolved around a yellow, pizza-shaped character named Pac-Man. The character navigates through maze-filled levels, eating up the little pellets and sometimes big pieces of fruit, all to avoid the ghosts that wander the map. Eating the large pellets would turn the tides, allowing Pac-Man to eat the colorful ghosts for a brief period. While this game has a straightforward premise, the gameplay is still challenging, quickly establishing Pac-Man as the global sensation we know and love today. Pac-Man continues to be one of the most recognizable and beloved arcade games of all time.
Galaga – 1981
Galaga is another title developed by Namco on our list, the sequel to the hard-hitting Galaxian that quickly became a favorite by fans in arcade gaming. Similar to Space Invaders, this fixed shooter game has players controlling a spaceship from the bottom of the screen with one task: shooting down the endless waves of descending alien enemies. The most distinguishing feature of this game is how aliens can capture a player’s ship, leading to intense gameplay and dramatic rescue attempts. The fast-paced nature of Galaga, combined with the addictive nature and vibrant graphics, made this game a fan favorite that stood out from the rest. This classic arcade game continues to appeal to gaming enthusiasts from around the globe.
Donkey Kong – 1981
With the release of Donkey Kong in 1981, we saw two of gaming history’s iconic characters, Mario – then known as Jumpman – and Donkey Kong. Developed by the Japanese video game company Nintendo, this is the original story of Mario trying to save Pauline from the grasp of Donkey Kong, the giant ape. Players must navigate through a series of levels, overcome obstacles, and avoid the blundering barrels thrown by the angry gorilla. Donkey Kong is filled with innovative gameplay and engaging storylines that helped Mario become the beloved Italian plumber we have known for years, setting the stage for the countless sequels and spin-offs played by generations of gamers.
Street Fighter II – 1991
Street Fighter II is the sequel to the original Street Fighter game developed by Capcom, which revolutionized the fighting gaming genre, setting out a new standard for competitive gameplay. Players had to choose from a selection of fighters, each with their own unique fighting styles and moves to battle against opponents from across the globe. The innovative combination of buttons and special moves creates a deeper level of strategy for players looking to perform the perfect attacks. The Street Fighter series has continued to be a favorite among arcade-goers, sparking a new rise in competitive gaming cultures.
Arcade games grew to their heights during the 80s when times were simpler, and everyone didn’t have a console in their front room powerful enough to deliver realistic graphics and intense storylines. The days of arcade games are nostalgic and charming – when players would do their best to climb the leaderboards and defeat their friends. Although newer and more advanced games are readily available, retro classics like these will always have a special place in our hearts.