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Top 10 Arcade Games Of The 1980s

VO: Chris Masson
Script written by Nathan Sharp With the groundwork set in the previous decade, the 1980s saw vast improvements in technology and gameplay, ushering in the golden age of arcade games. Join WatchMojo.com as we continue our series on the Top Arcade Games per Decade, with the Top 10 Arcade Games of the 1980's For this list, we're looking at the best arcade games of the decade in terms of popularity, critical acclaim, longevity, and the impact they've made on the video gaming medium. We’re focusing on games that saw popularity primarily in the arcades so while there was indeed a port of Super Mario Bros for coin-op use, you won’t find it here. This video is part of a series. Special Thanks to our users "OneTwoPunchGames" "buckmeister19" "David Ram" "Orangegator" "aldqbigsquare" "Mar Brody" 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 1980s


With the groundwork set in the previous decade, the 1980s saw vast improvements in technology and gameplay, ushering in the golden age of arcade games. Join WatchMojo.com as we continue our series on the Top Arcade Games per Decade, with the Top 10 Arcade Games of the 1980's

For this list, we're looking at the best arcade games of the decade in terms of popularity, critical acclaim, longevity, and the impact they've made on the video gaming medium. We’re focusing on games that saw popularity primarily in the arcades so while there was indeed a port of Super Mario Bros for coin-op use, you won’t find it here.

#10: "Rampage" (1986)

For those who wanted to feel like they were in their very own monster movie, "Rampage" allowed them that pleasure, as the player controls various monsters as they tear cities apart, stop the national guard and eat people. The game was fun due to the sheer amount of adversaries, including helicopters, tanks, and police cars, and for the Destructive cites. It could also support up to three players at once, allowing your friends to join in on the mayhem and adding to the fun.

#9: "Bubble Bobble" (1986)

Bubble Bobble was a game that was so popular at the time, that even with multiple ports across dozens of systems, the Arcade game remains the definitive version. In the game, up to two players control baby dragons Bub and Bob as they travel through stages defeating all the enemies by bursting them inside bubbles. Its success led to many sequels and spawned a whole series of copycats; from Snow Bros to Tumblepop. It is also notable for being one of the first games with different endings depending on if a 2nd player was present. Get use to that music though.

#8: "Mario Bros." (1983)

While not nearly as successful as later iterations from the famous plumber, "Mario Bros." is known for giving the hero of Donkey Kong the name “Mario,” as beforehand he had been known as “Jumpman”. In the game, both Mario and Luigi battle creatures in the sewers, but unlike later games where Mario can famously jump on enemies, they can only be flipped onto their backs and kicked away. While it had the unfortunate timing of being released during the infamous Video Game Crash, It wasn't long before Mario and his friends were taking over the world.

#7: "Dig Dug" (1982)

"Dig Dug," like many famous arcade games, was a Japanese creation before being imported overseas. The game has a simple enough concept in that the player, controlling the titular hero, has to eliminate monsters underground by inflating them to death or by dropping rocks on them. The game was praised for its fun concept, and unpredictable nature as enemies could travel through the dirt to ambush the player, not to mention is really easy for the game’s walking tune to get stuck in your head.

#6: "Q*Bert" (1982)

One of the most beloved video game characters in the golden age era, Q*Bert became a pop culture phenomenon in the early-1980s. Q*Bert is controlled by the player, and the goal is to change the colours of cubes in a seemingly 3D pyramid, all while avoiding enemies and obstacles. The character became extremely popular, appearing on merchandise like lunch boxes, and even receiving his own animated television show. Praised for its unique gameplay and the stellar audio/visual production values, most of Q*Bert’s popularity could also be attributed to his potty mouth.

#5: "Gauntlet" (1985)

Considered to be one of the first multiplayer dungeon crawl games, "Gauntlet" appeased both fantasy lovers and general gamers looking for a fun time. The game could hold up to four players at once, and had a chose between four different fantastical characters, each with their own skills and weaknesses, an obvious influence on the RPG games of today. Praised for its very compelling level design, and exciting fantasy-based gameplay, and forever segmenting it’s legacy as a pioneer for gaming today.

#4: "Galaga" (1981)

A sequel to the successful 1979 game "Galaxian," "Galaga" introduced a few new features to the well-established formula, creating a bigger and even better game. New to the sequel was the ability for players to become captured by the boss Galaga via his tractor beam. Hot off the heel’s of Space Invaders, Galaga’s success lead to many copycats looking to get in on the Shoot ‘em up craze, and with it’s legacy still being felt today, Galaga earns its spot in gaming history.

#3: "Frogger" (1981)

If "Frogger" did one thing right, it was changing its name from "Highway Crossing Frog." Considered a classic from the golden age of arcade games, "Frogger" has been played by pretty much everyone. The player controls a frog as it makes its way across a road and river, avoiding an array of fatal obstacles. "Frogger" was a sensation, becoming one of the most popular arcade games of the 80s, and when the game made a transition to home consoles it sold twenty million copies. Still enjoyed today in its various ports and remakes, "Frogger" will always be a video gaming icon.

#2: "Donkey Kong" (1981)

Created by famous video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto, "Donkey Kong" was Nintendo’s first breakout hit, and it soon became one of the most influential and popular video games of all time. "Donkey Kong" introduced both the titular villain and Mario, whom as we mentioned earlier was known as Jumpman. It was praised for its challenging and exciting platforming gameplay, and is known as an early example of the now-famous genre. Spawning numerous sequels, spin offs, and even inspiring a whole documentary movie, "Donkey Kong" was a major influence in video gaming and a pop culture marvel.

Before we look at our most influential top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

"Double Dragon" (1987)

"Missile Command" (1980)

"Centipede" (1981)

"Joust" (1982)

"Dragon's Lair" (1983)

#1: "Ms. Pac-Man" (1981)

Pac Man may be one of the most popular video game characters of all time, but it’s his wife that not only has the better game, but the best Arcade game of the era. The goal of these games, as we're sure you know, is to get the Pac’s to eats dots while traversing a maze and avoiding the famed ghosts. However what sets the Misses ahead, is that her game has multiple mazes, forcing the player to quickly change and adapt new strategies as they progress. Because of these new mazes, the game is still incredibly fun to play today as is was more than 30 years ago, making it our easy pick for #1.

Do you agree with our list? What arcade game from the 80s do you consider the best? For more crowd pleasing top tens published every day, be sure to subscribe to Watchmojo.com.
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