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Your top ten arcade games of the early 80's

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What are your favorite late 70's and early 80's arcade games and why? create a top ten list of your opinions

I will start things off


1) Donkey Kong

2)Missle Command



5)Ms. Pacman

6)Donkey Kong Junior


8)Space Invaders


10)Mario bros

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Centipede - I love the action in this game

Missile Command - Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades...and Missile Command!

Battlezone - a great first person perspective

Berzerk - a nice action game

Sea Wolf - a nice skill game

Gunfight - great with 2 players

Ms. Pac-Man - better than the original

Galaxian - nice graphics and moving targets

Frogger - I don't know why this is fun but it is.

Q-bert - weird controls but still fun

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No particular order:


Star Castle





Space Fury

Space Encounters

Monaco GP



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It is impossible for me to come up with a top 10 list of early 80s arcade games :D

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Hmm, in no true order -


1 ) Tempest - color vector, thee greatest shoot-everything game I ever played, I also like that it doesn't attempt to look like anything normal.

2 ) Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator - color vector, I love the multiple screens, the "bridge" that keeps track of weapons and shields, the dual goals of wiping out Klingons and saving the bases, a simplified arcade version of Star Raiders.

3 ) Xevious - best scroller, I like the dual weapons, I really like that you have to make do with the ship as-is, no idiotic power-ups that blanket the screen with shots every 20 seconds, I also like the giant landscape with all the detail and hidden targets.

4 ) Space Duel - color vector, my favorite of the Asteroids-type games, I like the uniqueness of the tethered ships option, more fun as 2-player.

5 ) Space Wars - vector, love all the options that were available (gravity, invisible sun, bouncing shots, etc.) like it was an Atari 2600 game, everyone I knew who played it pretended it was a Star Destroyer vs. the Enterprise.

6 ) Space Firebird - my favorite of the Galaxian-type games, really like the bright, saturated colors and the odd flight patterns of the enemies.

7 ) Wizard Of Wor - another great 2-player game, one of the few maze-type games that I like (most are like Pac-Man which I cannot stand) because of the shooting and different enemies to wipe out.

8 ) Cobra Command - the only laserdisc game I liked, love the anime animation along with being the machine gunner.

9 ) Red Baron - vector, a great flight sim, I like that there are biplanes to shoot down as well as ground target to blow up.

10 ) Centipede - my favorite trak-ball game, I like the variety of enemies along with the randomness induced by the mushroom placement.


There are many games that almost make this list. That was a truly amazing era for arcade games and I'm so glad I was around to play them in actual arcades. Arcades suck now, if you can even find them. I hope the Barcade idea takes off, if the younger generations can't appreciate classic arcade games, screw them, let us older types have fun with them and blow lots of money on alcohol, too.

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way to hard to come up with a top 10, I would leave off the common stuff like missile command, space invaders, galaga, millipede, star castle, tempest, black widow, asteroids deluxe, zoo keeper, discs of tron, liberator, ect

1 robotron

2 space duel

3 crazy climber

4 ripoff

5 sinistar

6 mad planets

7 tapper

8 sprint 2 (indy 8 and tank 8 would be in there)

9 eliminator

10 solar quest

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Donkey Kong





Lock 'n' Chase

Mouse Trap


Radar Scope

Lady Bug

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Hmm.. not that anyone cares about my opinion, but who doesn't love sharing their opinion when a question like this is presented?!



Some of my criteria in answering this question is as follows:


a. Released 1980-1984 (What I would consider to be the "early eighties". Galaxian doesn't make my list for this reason.)

b. A game that made a strong impression when I first encountered it when it was new. Something was really striking about it.

c. Has a feeling of depth. It feels like a world that sucks you in, not what seems like a repetitive series of levels.

d. It has atmosphere. The theme, sounds, visuals, and/or arcade really create an experience when you play it.

e. It has held up over time; a game I still enjoy playing today.


Using the above criteria, my list is as follows:


1. Sinistar


My god, did this game make an impression. What games like Gorf, Berzerk, and Wizard of Wor attempted to do with their taunts, this one accomplished masterfully. I don't think there has ever been a game that has ever so successfully accomplished the feat of making me feel as if the machine is personally challenging me.


The space you fly in feels like a world. The levels you can jump forward into seem to me to have interesting variations. I've never gotten good enough at this game to really get to know what all of the levels are like, but it does feel like a world that I can explore (not just a repetitive series of stages that you have to progress through.)


It certainly has atmosphere, great sound effects, and the graphics are what seems to me like the perfect combination of the classic arcade graphics, and a really detailed and interesting enemy (Sinistar itself, of course).


I have never gotten tired of this game, even though it kicks my butt every time.


2. Defender


Amazing sounds. The best sound of any arcade game ever, in my opinion. The enemies are nice to look at and some of my favorite arcade graphics ever.


The control scheme was really innovative, and I can't think of another arcade game that has done anything similar (with the obvious exception of its successor, Stargate).


This is a game that I feel challenges the player at many levels. It never gets old.


3. Galaga


Great improvement over Galaxian, which was already a great game. It does a great job of adding lots of new game elements to what is essentially just a new version of Galaxian: ship capture and rescue, challenge stages, ships that split apart during the attack, and cool badges that you earn as you progress.


You discover new enemies as you progress into the game, which gives it a feeling of depth.


Some of the best music and sound effects in any arcade game, in my opinion.


The stats that it gives you to assess your performance at the end of the game give you something to strive for beyond beating your high score.


4. Robotron


Like all Williams games I can think of, it has great sound effects and beautifully colored graphics.


The control scheme was new, I believe, and I can't think of any arcade game from the period that uses anything similar. (Battlezone does have dual sticks, but uses them in a completely different way.)


The variations in enemies keeps it interesting, and the story line (simple as it is) appeals to me.


5. Wizard of Wor


Beautiful sounds and graphics. This is my favorite of the primitive voice synthesis games. This game definitely has what I call atmosphere.


Having a second player that can either team up with you, be your adversary, or start as one then become the other, adds a whole new dimension to the game. I can't recall a game prior that allowed this.


6. Centipede


In my opinion, the best Atari arcade game from the period. (Warlords is damn good, too, but it feels like a game from the pong era, so I have a hard time considering it as an early 80s game.)


This was the first bottom-scrolling shooter I can remember that used a track ball. The free range of movement along the bottom part of the screen was something new, as far as I can remember.


This is one of those games that I feel allows for lots of variations in strategy and is very challenging.


Tempest was a great game, also, but I find that I play this game much more today than Tempest.


7. Gorf


Several games in one, including one of my all-time favorites (Galaxian). This was the first arcade game I can remember that did this.


Cool control stick. Awesome sound and graphics. Gorf taunts you in a robotic-sounding voice.


You earn promotions in rank after completing the full series of boards, which gives you something to strive for besides beating a high score.


It doesn't have as much replayability as Galaga, in my opinion, but it was just as innovative in its day, and it still has tons of charm.


8. Star Castle


That bastard in the middle has to die. I don't know why, but he pisses me off.


It feels really damn satisfying when you blow him up, for some reason. I love the way the star castle collapses in on itself then explodes. There aren't many games I can remember that give me nearly the same level of satisfaction when I destroy the enemy. Not even Sinistar.


Best vector graphics game ever (in my opinion).


9. Pepper II


I remember encountering this as a weird machine sitting in the back of a large arcade in a city I didn't live in. It intrigued me. However, I didn't know how the hell to play it (the idea of filling in areas by surrounding them didn't click at the time), so it took about 75 cents from me, and I decided to move on. Maybe if I would have read the instructions, I would have realized I had just encountered one of my favorite games ever.


The graphics aren't that engaging, but the sound is really cool. I feel it has the best sound in any maze game from that era (though Mouse Trap is pretty cool also).



The ability to move off-screen into other mazes, and work on completing those instead of the one you were working on previously, must've been an original concept at the time (and I can't think of another game that does this). It really enhances the game, in my opinion, because it gives you options you don't have in other maze games.


There is no other maze game that I find as addictive as this one. I enjoy playing Pepper II these days way more than playing any of the Pac-Man games.


10. Astron Belt


I debated whether or not this should go on my list, because I haven't had an opportunity to play this game since it was originally in the arcades, so I don't know whether or not it has held up. (I suspect it has not.) However, there wasn't another game that I could think of that fit my criteria nearly as much as any of the others above, and this game definitely made an impression on me when I first saw it.


I thought this was a much more playable laserdisc game than Dragon's Lair. Firefox and Mach 3 (or was it Mach 5?) were good, but came later, so this was the real ground-breaker to me.


I couldn't leave the arcade without playing this game at least once.


I wonder if the publisher got in trouble for ripping scenes from Star Trek II and other movies? (And the fact that the game appeared to do so adds to its uniqueness.)

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Man, I hate to follow up that kind of well thought out post with a simple list. These aren't necessarily the most historically important or the ones that pushed any technical boundaries, but these are the ones that I played the most...


Space Invaders (first arcade game I ever played)






Star Wars


Sprint 2

Moon Patrol


I've managed to find six of them for my collection. The other four are going to take some time.

Edited by racerx

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I've managed to find six of them for my collection. The other four are going to take some time.


Wow, you have 6 of these machines? I am envious. Which are they?

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I've got 11 right now, but the six from my list are Space Invaders, Centipede, Asteroids, Tron, Xevious, and Sprint 2. My collection thread is here:



Very nice.


If my list were of the top 10 most beautiful arcade cabinets, Tron and Space Invaders Deluxe would be on it.

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My 10 favorites at the time would have been (in alphabetical order):




Missile Command

Ms. Pac-Man







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Good topic.


#1 Dragons Lair - So original and fun when 1st released (and even now). I can't think of any other game that gave me so much enjoyment.

#2 Asteroids - Very first game I could marathon (thank you Benny Ha for all your tips). Asteroids made me the gamer that I am today.

#3 Berzerk - This game is the catalyst that got me into gaming.

#4 Thayer's Quest - An odd keyboard arcade game that sucked MANY a token from me and for naught (as their is NO ending, game was never completed). AWESOME game that deserved to be finished.

#5 Missile Command - The second game that I was able to marathon and it took a LONG ASS while to master it, but I still play my machine a few times a month.

#6 Scramble - Probably the biggest accomplishment for me when I was 13 or 14??? was to FINALLY pick up the payload @ the last stage.

#7 Matmania - Third game I was able to marathon, and damn was it fun. I am still looking to buy this game (original cab. and hardware only) as it is one of the few arcades left that I want to complete my arcade.

#8 Karate Champ - Yep, I know, it is an archaic and terrible game, but I and my best friend spent MANY a quarter battling it out. I loved the lunge punch... FULL POINT!

#9 Tempest - Tough ass game that I still suck at. To this day I still can't get to the invisible levels w/o the add more credits option. I just don't get how people can be so good at this game and I stink. It is a blast to watch the experts play and try to figure out what I am doing wrong and what they are doing right.

#10 Star Wars - No list is complete w/o Star Wars. I am still trying to marathon this game to this day (I actually go to Ground Kontrol every week and try to perfect my Tempest gaming). I do not have a machine at home and everyone wants at least $2000+++ for it in the Oregon and Washington area, sooooo I have to keep practicing on Ground Kontrols machine. I will (before I die) marathon this game!!!

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1. Centipede

2. Star Wars

3. Galaga

4. Dig Dug

5. Zaxxon

6. Donkey Kong

7. Frogger

8. Robotron 2084

9. Ms. Pac-Man

10. Lunar Lander

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In no particular order:


1. Donkey Kong. (The funnest game of the era.)


2. Pac-Man.


3. Berzerk.


4. Space Invaders. (The game that started it all. Iconic.)


5. Tempest. (Vector awesomeness.)


6. Asteroids. (Vector awesomeness.)


7. Robotron 2084. (Great design and controls.)


8. Zaxxon. (The most graphically impressive game of the era. And it plays great too.)


9. Star Wars. (Dee-luxe. Really captures the spirit of the movie.)


10. Ms. Pac-Man. (Pac-Man, perfected.)


Honourable mention because Pac-Man/Ms. Pac-Man took up two spots: Lunar Lander. (It was the space age, after all.)

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I like a lot of the older games including a few B/W titles,big fan of maze games too.There are simply too many and they do change over time but just off the top of my head-

Mr Do!




Battle Zone


Lady Bug



Moon Cresta

Edited by R.O.T.S

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Donkey Kong

Ms. Pac-Man

Super Pac-Man

Jungle King






Cosmic Avenger


Loved Q-Bert and Forgger too as well as Gorf, Joust and later titles: Gauntlet, Elevator Action, Gyruss, Time Pilot and Time Pilot 84'.


Too many to mention.

Edited by cimerians

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I have a feeling I'm the young-ling in this thread. :P I frequented my local arcade in the late 80's, early nineties ... My top 10 faves were...


Super Hang-On

Night Striker

Galaxy Force II

Stunn Runner

Space Harrier


Super Monaco GP

Out Run

Golden Axe

Michael Jackson's Moonwalker

Edited by 7800

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Quick List with a few comments (no particular order):


- Scramble - the one game I always had the edge on with my friends, and strangely enough, the only cabinet in my collection.

- Galaga - I am mostly listing games I played the most back then; in this case I only played Galaxian and a lot of it, but can't hardly go back to it now, because Galaga exists

- Mr Do - Absolutely love this game

- Dig Dug - Poor man's Mr. Do, but still great and the best music and sound of all time.

- Frogger

- Mario Bros - I may have spent more quarters on this than any other game, ever.

- Star Wars Vector -

- Q*Bert

- Stun Runner

- Bagman - I was always surprised this was not more popular, I would love to have a Bagman machine!


Just out of the running were Qix and Xeivious.

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In no particular order:

1. Dig Dug (1982, Namco/Atari). Such a classic game; and there's a particular science to getting a high score, and understanding how the enemies think and react. Love it!

2. Mr. Do! (1982, Universal). Much like Dig Dug, but with its own science and quirks. Introduced musical cherries and letter monsters to videogamers' consciousnesses.

3. Frogger (1981, Konami/Sega/Gremlin). Even more than the great frantic action, this has among Konami's best music!

4. Mousetrap (1981, Exidy). Great sounds and I like the door-button controls. The hawk screaming as it killed you kinda scared me.

5. Crazy Climber (1980, Nichibutsu/Taito). Great concept and I liked the 2-joystick layout for your character's hands.

6. Ms. Pac-Man (1981, Namco/Midway). Greatest sequel next to Street Fighter II and Galaga. The moving fruits and different mazes were pure genius!

7. Galaga (1981, Namco/Midway). Paved the way for great shooters. A bonus round AND a way to get double ships! Super-innovative!

8. Scramble (1981, Konami/Stern). The first great scrolling shooter. Mow down wave after waves of enemies with lasers and bombs.

9. Donkey Kong (1981, Nintendo). Nintendo's first success that put it on the map. Good storyline and challenge.

10. Centipede (1980, Atari). Great early Atari full-color game. Just kinda sucks when you take too long to waste centipede parts, and more keep coming.

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10. Joust

9. Missle Command

8. Dig Dug

7. Centipede

6. Moonwalker

5. Frogger

4. Q*bert

3. Pac-Man

2. Galaga

1. Donkey Kong

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10. Dig Dug (Taizo is cute)

9. Mappy (Mappy is kawaii)

8. Millipede (Played it today at Go Play, it was pretty awesome)

7. Galaga (I like the challenge stages)

6. Ninja Gaiden (The game over screen)

5. Q*bert (He curses!)

4. New York! New York! (I played it in NYC)

3. Mega Man: The Power Battle (and The Power Fighters, I beat the former at Go Play today!)

2. Space Harrier (HARRIER IS HAWT)

1. Rolling Thunder (Blonde-haired Albatross is HAWT and Leila sets off my bi...and the game over screen is scary, and the game's just awesome!)

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I'll be game for a good round of NecroBumping :)


No order:

1. Robotron 2084


Once beat a really egotistical older kid at this at a beach arcade. He was so angry and destroyed, he'd been trash talking, had that 80's feathered hair, it was sweet. And I'm not even that competitive! Still love playing it on XBLA, Mame, on Xbox Midway Arcade Treasures etc to this day.


2. Space Duel


Just love the colors, the vector graphics, the different "Asteroids", the tethered ships.


3. Elevator Action


Still play it on Taito Classics on Xbox, on Wii Virtual Console, on Mame. Just love it, it's fun every single time. Controls are tight, music is...well sticks in your head at least.


4. Zoo Keeper


Also play this on Taito Classics and Mame. What an inventive, addictive, strange little game!


5. Mat Mania / Mania Challenge


This one may be my all time favorite. I could marathon play it, and for some reason it still give me a thrill to pummel Coco Savage "with kicks and farts". Ok not with farts (obscure Futurama reference there), but with pile drivers and lariats aplenty.


6. Crossbow


I love the Mame version with cheats and using the mouse (game is too freaking hard), but nothing quite beats the original with the actual mounted Crossbow for that involving feel. The sound effects are crazy. And I just love the idea; you're a sniper. You're not defending yourself, you're defending others from afar. I always wished someone, some way would do a sequel that would allow you to upgrade your party in between stages (sort of like Championship Sprint upgrades; you could give them more ability to fend for themselves, or to walk faster, or something).


7. Punch-Out!


The animations on this, and the big "KO" spring-loaded button, just made this a joy to play. Hilarious even when you lost (well ok sometimes), and really, what's better than the image of Bald Bull or Mr. Sandman's face when you hit them with a body blow?? Kind of hard to believe this was out in 1984.


8. Food Fight


I love this in Mame, I love it on the 7800, I love it on Game Room (XBLA), it's just beloved by me all around. It's fun, weird, and I adore that little cut scene replay that you sometimes get. And the extremely odd way Charlie Chuck opens his mouth so wide for the cone.


9. Spy Hunter


The controller, the Peter Gunn theme in midi form, the cool weapons, the flashing Weapons Van light, this was just...intense. And incredibly unfair. But still fun and worthy of oh so many quarters.


10. Star Wars


Not much needs said by me here; hard to beat. Beautiful game that captured a lot of the thrill of the movies for a kid who was enamored of them.

Edited by Curious Sofa

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