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(Back to the Past) Popular Games in the 80s: Best 1980s Video Games List

In the 80s, leading gaming console companies such as Nintendo, Sega, and Atari dominated the market. This period was hailed as the golden age of gaming, struggling due to a market crash. Nintendo's Game Boy dominated the market for two decades, but other companies caught up soon after. There is a wide best 1980s video games list and so old computer games from the 80s that are still being talked about.

Many of the popular titles have inspired gambling providers to create updated variations. On this page here provided popular online slots and free pokies games by trusted developers that have 1980s analogs, for example: Star Wars, Pac-Man, Super Mario, Space Invaders, etc.

Games in the 80s Ranked by Popularity: Best 80s Arcade Games List

Classic 1980s arcade games list is still popular for unique textures, graphics, and characters. Iconic protagonists like Mario and Donkey Kong 80s were introduced during this period. Shigeru Miyamoto and Mike Hally were influential.  

#1. Donkey Kong (1981)

Donkey Kong created by Shigeru Miyamoto in 1981, features a gorilla named Donkey Kong and introduces the character Mario, who later became the protagonist of the Super Mario Bros. series.

The Galaga interface, as one of the best 80s arcade games

#2. Galaga (1981)

Galaga was created in 1981 by Namco and released in North America by Midway Manufacturing. Galaga was released in 1979 and marked Namco's first significant success. To win Galaga, dodge enemy attacks and destroy the Galaga forces.

#3. Star Wars (1983)

Mike Hally designed this rail shooter game for Atari in 1983, during the golden age of the gaming industry. As one of the most popular 1980s arcade games, it offers three interlinked sequences that create an unparalleled and engaging Star Wars adventure. Nowadays, there are many popular variations, such as Star Wars slot machines and trending Star Wars video games list for PC, PS, Xbox, etc.

#4. Super Mario Bros (1985)

In 1985, Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka designed it which Nintendo developed. The main characters are Mario and Luigi, who are plumbers and must defeat a dragon named Bowzer to rescue the princess. Along the way, Mario will battle evil mushrooms and collect coins. Super Mario Bros by Nintendo has become widely known as a top-rated and recognizable franchise among the best 1980s video games list.

#5. Centipede (1980)

Centipede, designed by Dona Bailey and Ed Logg in 1980 for Atari, was one of the most successful and popular games in the 80s during the arcade golden age. Its sequel, Millipede, came out in 1982. Centipede was later repurposed for PC (Apple II, IBM PC).

#6. Defender (1980)

Williams Electronics developed Defender in 1980 and published it for arcades in 1981. It is regarded as the best-selling product from Williams Electronics, having sold over 55,000 copies. In the classic 1980s arcade games list, it is praised for its superb audio and visuals, considered groundbreaking for its time.

Frogger 1980s game by Sega

#7. Frogger (1981)

Frogger was manufactured by Sega in 1981. It is centered around guiding frogs through hazardous environments like busy roads. By 2005 Frogger had sold 20 million copies.

#8. Space Invaders (1978)

Space Invaders is the next example among the top arcade games of the 80s, by Taito, also known as a shoot 'em up. It was conceptualized and designed by leading gaming developer - Tomohiro Nishikado. Space Invaders was the first fixed shooter and inspired popular like Gun Fight and Breakout.

#9. Asteroids (1979)

Atari's Asteroids, released in 1979, was a popular single-player space game of 1980 inspired by other franchises like Space Invaders and Computer Space.

List of 1980s Computer Games: Old Computer Games from the 80s and 90s

The 80s ushered in a new era that introduced computer acting. This wave was led by the most significant companies at the time, like Ubisoft and Sega. These agencies made old computer games from the 80s and 90s popular and easy to access. The platforms created in the past had remarkable features, and many modern examples have been built upon that foundation.

  • Oregon Trail (December 3, 1971): Don Rawitsch, Bill Heinemann, and Paul Dillenberger developed Oregon Trail in 1971, and it was placed on the market in 1974. Oregon Trail makes the character act like a wagon leader, hunting and packing supplies. The initial release of Apple II lacked graphics, but its launch eventually addressed this issue.
  • Duck Hunt (April 21, 1984): Nintendo developers built Duck Hunt video games from the 70s and 80s for Nintendo VS. System. It was successful, selling over 28 million copies and gaining critical acclaim because it helped widen the spread of light-gun platforms.
  • Dig Dug (February 20, 1982): In 1981, Atari Inc charged its developers to come up with Dig Dug. Shouichi Fukatani Toshio Sakai developed the programming, and it was the second-highest-grossing product in 1982, setting the pace for sequels like Mr. Driller.
  • Super Mario Bros. 2: This is the fifth-highest-selling to be produced by the Nintendo system. The design and changes from previous Mario Bros, such as eliminating a time limit, were well-received. As one of the most popular arcade games in the 80s, features four main characters that can be selected at any level.

Best 1980s Arcade Games: Other Popular Arcade Games in the 80s

Old arcade games from the 80s and 90s introduced rapid technological advancement in the video industry and influenced pop culture. New arcade gaming platforms have boosted companies like Nintendo and Atari.

  • Ms. Pac-Man 80s was developed by General Computer Corporation in 1982 as the first sequel to PAC-Man. It was widely praised because it had a female figure and because it served as an improvement to Pac Man.
  • 1942. Capcom launched the 194x series, starting with the release of 1942. Yoshiki Okamoto designed it, and Japanese developers created it.1942 is set in the Pacific Theater during WWII and focuses on the Battle of Midway. The objective is to eliminate the Japanese air fleet.
  • Gauntlet boasts a hack-and-slash gameplay style that resembles other arcade fantasies like Dandy and Time Bandit. Meanwhile, Tetris remains a timeless classic in the list of 1980s games with a puzzle genre.
  • Tempest has a 3D setting that enables the player to control a blaster. Designed in 1981 by David Theurer and developed by Atari Inc, Tempest introduced the starting level, allowing players to pick their difficulty level. It also introduced different designs for different levels of difficulty.
  • Double Dragon. Its characters are twin martial artists that fight against a wide range of rivals. Double Dragon had a hold on pop culture at its height, leading to the development of two animation series.
  • Tetris was developed by a Soviet developer named Alexey Pajitnov in 1985, and playing it involves moving the tetrominoes on a flat surface. Tetris is widely regarded as one of the top 80s games ever created, and it had already sold 202 million copies by 2011. Tetris is the most ported ever, with an impressive availability on 65 platforms.
  • The Prince of Persia was created by Jordan Mechner and is used across 37 platforms. As one of the best 80s computer games, it has significantly impacted the industry with spin-offs, sequels, and movie adaptations.

80's Nintendo Games List: TOP Games Set in the 80s

Among the best Nintendo games 1980s are classics like Mario and Tetris. Skilled designers and engineers led the industry's transformation, laying the foundation for today's booming gaming industry.

  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link: Designed by Kazunobu Shimizu and released in 1987, Zelda II was financially successful and enjoyed critical acclaim.
  • The Ice Climber has two characters, Popo and Nene, who jump over mountains to retrieve stolen vegetables. It is available on different platforms, but the arcade version has more features and bonus items.
  • Battlezone (1980) is a shooter-combat among Nintendo racing games 1980s, where the player controls a tank. This game sold 15,000 copies and paved the way for future 3D games.
  • Bubble Bobble (June 16, 1986) was launched for arcade platforms in 1986. It has two dinosaur characters who save their girlfriends by traveling through 100 levels. It introduced a two-player system and revolutionized gaming.
  • Excitebike has become one of the highest-selling in history. Nintendo released it in 1984 for the family computer and moved to the arcade console later in the year. Designed by Shigeru Miyamoto, Excitebike influenced the development of Super Mario Bros.
  • Paperboy (April 1985): The protagonist in Paperboy cycles through the street while delivering newspapers. Paperboy was added to home systems in 1985. Six years later, a sequel was released as the best 80s games for PC.
  • Mario Bros. Shigeru Miyamoto and Gunpei Yokoi designed Mario Bros. for Nintendo as a spin-off of the Donkey Kong series. Mario Bros involved two Italian characters who were plumbers and set out to destroy sewer creatures. Since its inception in 1983, Nintendo's product has grown into an exceptionally profitable franchise.

80s Space Arcade Games: The Most Popular 1980s Space Games

The developers of the era, like Steve Meyer and Sam Dicker, outdid themselves and came up with these examples that have formed the basis of the modern gaming experience. Some of the most popular companies created them and have become commercially successful. They enjoyed wide popularity during the glory days of the industry.

  • Sinister was created in 1983 by some of the most renowned developers of the era. It is known for its high difficulty level, as it allows players to take control of the character in a battle with a spacecraft.
  • Alpha Blaster was derived from Galaxia and developed by Dave Aron while he was at Sumlock. It was released in 1983 and published by LiveWire Software.
  • Phoenix: Upon its release in 1980, Phoenix quickly became a commercial success, especially in Europe and the Americas. It received acclaim for its graphics and gameplay, and Flux magazine ranked it 69th in their top 1980s video games list.
  • Tapper was programmed by Steve Meyer and Elaine Ditton and is regarded as addictive, entertaining, and filled with gaming action. Tapper has a massive influence on the industry and is referenced in games and included in Disney animation.
  • Starflight: 1986 Greg Johnson designed and developed Starflight, a game set thousands of years ago. Players assume the role of a spacecraft captain, and the game has significantly impacted subsequent releases in the industry.
  • Space Duel: Atari Inc released Space Duel as a sequel to the original Asteroids game, but unlike Asteroids, it was replaced with radiant geometric shapes. It is the only multiplayer vector in the Atari Inc game catalog.
  • Space Encounters:was created by Bally Midway in 1980 and drew inspiration from Star Wars. While it gives the impression of a 3D experience, it is actually played in 2D.
  • Space Tactics: Sega produced Space Tactics in 1980, demanding players defend their base from enemy fire and take down alien ships.

Top Classic 80s Video Games: Best 1980s Video Games List

These journey video game 80s have aged well over the years and are still regarded as classics. Some of them, like Ultima IV: The Quest of the Avatar, pushed the boundaries of commercial success in the gaming industry. It was spearheaded by designers like Richard Garriot and Ken St. André, and playing was facilitated on multiple platforms, from the Atari ST to the X68000.

  • Contra (1987): Konami developed Contra. The arcade version was released in 1986, while the home system variant was introduced in 1987. The arcade version of Contra was successful and was one of the top 4 most sold video games in the United States in its year of release.
  • Ultima IV: Quest of The Avatar (1985): The series's fourth version was introduced and considered superior to its predecessors due to improved dialog and inter-game activity. The game was a massive success, and in 1996, Computer Gaming World ranked it the second-best PC game ever made.
  • Boulder Dash (1984): In 1984, Peter Liepa and Chris Gray created Boulder Dash, which has since become a game industry pioneer known for its enduring popularity.
  • Mega Man 2 (1989): Mega Man 2, as one of the best 80s video games was created in 1989, was influential and introduced changes to the graphics of video games.
  • Wasteland (1988): Wasteland is set in the years following the apocalypse in America. It was developed in 1988 and was published that same year. Following its launch, it enjoyed commercial success.