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Top 10 Arcade Games Of The 1970s

VO: Chris Masson
Script written by Nathan Sharp Believe it or not, these games were absolutely mind-blowing back in the day, and have since helped define video games in the public eye. Join WatchMojo.com as we countdown our picks for the Top 10 Arcade Games Of The 1970s. For this list, we're looking at the best games released to and played in arcades between 1970 and 1979. These are the games that made a significant impact on popular culture and the video gaming medium, helping to influence bigger, better games of the future. This video is part of a series. Special Thanks to our users "DonovanTPS" "Jason Lundgren" "Orangegator" & "Cathal341" for suggesting this topic on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Script written by Nathan Sharp

Top 10 Arcade Games of the 1970s


Believe it or not, these games were absolutely mind-blowing back in the day, and have since helped define video games in the public eye. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we're kicking off our new series on the Top 10 Arcade Games per decade with our picks for the Top 10 Arcade Games Of The 1970s.

For this list, we're looking at the best games released to and played in arcades between 1970 and 1979. These are the games that made a significant impact on popular culture and the video gaming medium, helping to influence bigger, better games of the future.

#10: "Death Race" (1976)

A game about running down gremlins in your car, "Death Race" was revolutionary at the time due to its steering wheel and acceleration pedal that are used to control the car, rather than the typical joystick and buttons. The game was extremely controversial upon its release, with many groups lobbying against it and worrying about the possible psychological impact that could result from the gameplay. At least one thing in gaming has stayed constant.

#9: "Tank" (1974)

While the games may have been revolutionary, the titles could have used some work. "Tank" was a two-player game where friends battled each other, avoiding mines in a maze while trying to shoot the other player. The joystick controls were considered realistic and engrossing for the time, even being used six years later for the arcade game "Battlezone." It was so popular that the game was ported to the Atari 2600 with the name "Combat."

#8: "Sea Wolf" (1976)

Known for its large periscope attachment, "Sea Wolf" had players looking through said periscope in order to blast enemy ships and underwater mines which were used as an obstruction. "Sea Wolf" is notable for being one of the first games with the "high score" challenge, an aspect which would be prevalent in most arcade games in subsequent years. It would also come to serve as one of video gaming's most well known features.

#7: "Lunar Lander" (1979)

This game sees the player attempting to pilot the titular lander onto the surface of the moon. While the game wasn't wildly popular, it did introduce a few new features, such as the insertion of more coins in order to continue playing, a mainstay of arcade games ever since. The vector graphics were also the catalyst for "Asteroids," which …we’ll get to later, proving the influence that this one had on the medium.

#6: "Breakout" (1976)

Designed by Apple's Steve Wozniak, you could say this game was the breakout star of his career. No? The player controls a paddle at the bottom of the screen, attempting to keep a ball bouncing to hit bricks at the top. If this seems familiar, that's because the game is still being played today, as it spawned many copycats, including the fantastic Arkanoid. It also served as the inspiration for the Apple II computer, proving its enormous influence.

#5: "Computer Space" (1971)

Officially released in November of 1971, "Computer Space" is universally recognized as the world's first commercial coin-operated video game. The player controls a rocket ship and must use thrusters and rotational buttons in order to avoid fire from attacking flying saucers. The game was not a success at the time due to its steep learning curve, but the fact that this is the world's first arcade game is enough to warrant it a spot in history.

#4: "Galaxian" (1979)

Hey Look: Color! Finally. One of the most important video games ever, "Galaxian" set the groundwork for many of the succeeding decades' most popular games. Like "Space Invaders," the player controls a spaceship battling aliens who are shooting from above, but with the added twist of various kamikaze enemies. Not only was this the first game to feature enemies with distinct personalities, but it also revolutionized colour graphics, added the "lives remaining" feature, and included more pronounced background music than any game before it. To say "Galaxian" was influential would be a massive understatement.

#3: "Asteroids" (1979)

One of video games' most popular titles, "Asteroids" was a true pop culture phenomenon. Using hardware previously seen in "Lunar Lander," the object of the game was to control your spaceship and shoot oncoming asteroids while trying to avoid the resulting debris. The game was immensely popular upon release, earning arcade operators roughly $500 million, and some even had to install larger coin boxes in order to accommodate the game's demand. "Asteroids" was praised for its graphics and gameplay, and many consider it one of the finest arcade titles.

#2: "Pong" (1972)

To some of our younger viewer, we can see why might wonder how this game did well. However, in November of 1972, this little game changed the world. Often considered to be the first commercially successful video game, "Pong's" premise is simple, in that two players compete against each other in a simulated table tennis match. The game inspired many other companies to take notice and create "Pong clones," which in turn forced Atari to begin creating bigger, better games, effectively beginning the video game industry. Say what you will, but without "Pong," there would arguably be no video games today.

#1: "Space Invaders" (1978)

"Space Invaders" almost singlehandedly launched the video game industry from a niche entertainment products to a worldwide phenomenon. The player controls a spaceship as it shoots attacking alien ships from above, and this simple concept changed the industry forever. The aliens have since become synonymous with video gaming in general, and it soon became the highest-grossing entertainment product of its time, the equivalent of "Grand Theft Auto V" today. Suffice it to say that "Space Invaders" helped secure video gaming as a global industry and changed the world forever.

Do you agree with our list? What arcade game from the 70s do you consider to be the best? For more influential top tens published every day, be sure to subscribe to Watchmojo.com.
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