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Pop Culture | Retro

The retro games that are making a comeback

Photo by Hello I'm Nik on Unsplash

If you were born in a certain era, you would have grown up with just a handful of different video games or arcade games to be played, often only at arcades or specialty bars. In the intervening years, video games have developed to the point that now gamers can play massively multiplayer online games such as Fortnite on their mobile devices.

New video games feature nuanced plot points, character development, detailed graphics, finessed gameplay, and specialty features – so it might be surprising that a number of retro arcade games are becoming increasingly popular. Although the likes of Snake and Pong might be relegated to the history books, there remain a number of big-name arcade games that have certainly stood the test of time and remain incredibly popular today.


Pac-Man is arguably the most famous video game ever created, and it remains incredibly popular. First released in 1980, the game’s titular character is a yellow circle that navigates throughout a maze, chomping down on fruit and running away from ghosts. There is something delightfully freeing about the game as the Pac-Man character represents a kind of ‘everyman’ who is really just trying to get by, feed his family, and outrun his inevitable demise for as long as possible.

It will not surprise you to learn that Pac-Man has been released in just about every format and theme conceivable. However, that being said, the classic, original version of Pac-Man is generally considered to be the favourite.  


Tetris is another game that can certainly rival Pac-Man in terms of popularity and longevity. Tetris was created by Alexey Leonidovich Pajitnov, a Russian video game designer. As the game was launched in the 1980s, Pajitnov was working for the USSR and could not receive any royalties for this game. If he had been able to take royalties, Pajitnov would have quickly become a multimillionaire because the game grew to be incredibly popular very quickly.

Pajitnov loved puzzles and challenges, and so after developing Tetris, he also created Welltris. This game takes spatial awareness to the next level as it is a three-dimensional version of Tetris that involves falling blocks in 3D.

Video poker

Alongside Pac-Man and Tetris, video poker is arguably one of the retro games that has really grown in popularity since it was created and launched. To be fair, video poker was created in the 1970s, but it really grew in popularity during the 1980s. The very first digital slot machine games were not launched until 1994, so video poker was certainly innovative and ahead of its time when it was created.

Video poker remains incredibly popular and can be played both in brick-and-mortar casinos and via online casinos. In fact, video poker is something of a precursor to the modern-day online casino. Online casinos are now incredibly popular and are becoming more and more widely used as gamblers give them a try and realize that the best online casinos are just as fun and exciting as gambling in a brick-and-mortar casino.

Gamblers who enjoy playing video poker can play dozens of different types of video poker on online casinos, but they can now also play live casino games, including poker, via online casino platforms. Live casino games are becoming increasingly popular and allow gamblers to interact with a real dealer who is being livestreamed while playing casino table games. This is the next step in the evolution of video poker and it is not hard to see why it is so popular.

Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong is, of course, a classic arcade game that remains a staple classic in arcades across the country. The game features the trials and tribulations of a giant ape of unspecified species named Donkey Kong and his band of friendly monkeys. Donkey Kong must pass through a series of tests and challenges and eventually rescue his beloved human princess, Pauline.

Initially an arcade game, Donkey Kong has remained eternally popular and has been produced in many different formats featuring nearly endless versions of the character’s quest. Most recently, Donkey Kong was launched for Nintendo Switch via the creatively named Donkey Kong Country:  Tropical Freeze game.

Anyone who is even remotely interested in Donkey Kong, classic arcade games, or even just the obsessive nature of some hobbies should seek out the hit documentary film The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters. This documentary takes you into the world of hyper-competitive Donkey Kong championships and the lying, cheating, drama and fighting that goes on in this surprisingly cutthroat sport.

If you were not previously convinced that retro arcade games and video games from the 80s are still popular, after watching this film, you will realize that not only are retro arcade games still popular, but they still generate a huge amount of profit and interest. Donkey Kong championships are still running to this day, and the honour of taking home a trophy or breaking a previous world record remains significant.


Galaga is another titan of the arcade floor and has remained extremely popular since it was launched in 1981. This first-person shooter game was released as a sequel to Galaxian and is arguably in the same gaming universe as Space Invaders. Galaga has remained popular while some of its competitors have faded away in part because of its iconic graphics and its incredibly specific (one might say, annoying?) sound effects.

In the Galaga game, you play the part of a valiant spaceship trying to defend your territory from invading space aliens. As the levels progress, the space demons you are battling against become increasingly powerful, creative and strange.

Although Galaga has not enjoyed the same level of ubiquity as games such as Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, it remains incredibly popular. In some ways, this is to be preferred as the purity of the game remains intact and gamers can enjoy essentially the exact same game that their parents played a few decades ago.