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10 Best Classic Arcade Games

Street Fighter IIAh, the arcade. That one place where kids growing up in the ’80s could stay for hours on end every day of the week playing the 10 Best Classic Arcade Games. Where we first discovered maze patterns, punching kangaroos and outer space madness. It was a place where putting your quarter up on the machine meant you were next in line. A place where new games could pop up any day of the week. We know that there are so many classic titles that could be swapped out for any of the ones on this list. But if we had the chance to build our own arcade, these are the 10 Best Classic Arcade Games we’d stick in it.


10

Gauntlet

Atari Games
 
 

"Warrior needs food -- badly." is one of those classic lines an old school gamer will never forget. When Gauntlet first came out, everyone crowded around it, pumping quarters into it like the machine's life depended on it. Not only did you get to play with your friends, but you got to shoulder punch that one jerk who always chose the Elf so he could run and grab the treasure before anyone else. Hated that guy. Fun Fact: A limited edition two-player version of Gauntlet was also released. Have you ever seen one?

 
Gauntlet
9

Space Invaders

Midway Manufacturing Co.
 
 

In 1978, Space Invaders hit arcades and made waves in the industry, which is why it's on our list of the 10 Best Classic Arcade Games. Move your ship back and forth as you try and destroy wave upon wave of descending aliens. The game is just as tough today as it was back then, especially if you played the Midway version which used buttons to move, instead of the Taito version which used a joystick. Fun Fact: Space Invaders was the first game to establish the "high score".

 
Space Invaders
8

Asteroids

Atari
 
 

Two rotate buttons, a thrust button, a fire button AND a hyperspace button? How are we supposed to manage all of that? Back then, it was no problem. This 1979 Atari space shooter required nerves of steel and lightning fast reflexes, especially when those damn tiny UFO's came on screen and never seemed to miss. Oh sure, there's Asteroids Deluxe, but we'll stick with the original, thank you very much. Fun Fact: Atari manufactured over 70,000 Asteroids machines.

 
Asteroids
7

Tron

Bally Midway
 
 

Tron was the first video game to be spun off from a movie, and the 1982 arcade hit had kids hanging around it for years. Even to this day, players will flock to its bright neon lights and colorful joystick if they see one in an arcade. Many of the game's sights and sounds were taken from the movie, and you had four different games to choose from. A fifth game, Discs of Tron, couldn't make it in because of memory restrictions, so it was spun off as its own game. Fun Fact: Tron the video game made more money than Tron the movie.

 
Tron
6

Star Wars

Atari
 
 

Even though it came out in arcades six years after the movie was released, Star Wars was, and still is, one of the most popular classic arcade hits. Shoot down TIE fighters, blast laser towers, and blow up the dreaded Death Star. Not only was it fun to play, but it took quick reflexes to avoid being killed in first couple of minutes. Some arcades had the cockpit version, which made you feel like you were right in the action. Fun Fact: Star Wars was followed by Return of the Jedi in arcades. The Empire Strikes Back then came out as a conversion kit to Star Wars.

 
Star Wars
5

Galaga

Namco
 
 

This 1981 sequel to Galaxian takes the left/right Space Invaders formula and adds some new twists. The biggest being that one of the alien invaders can capture your ship. But if you manage to rescue it, you're able to get double the firepower. Galaga is still as challenging today as it was in the '80s, and deserves its place on our list of the 10 Best Classic Arcade Games. Fun Fact: Galaga makes two appearances in the movie 'Wargames'.

 
Galaga
4

Street Fighter II - The World Warrior

Capcom
 
 

Street Fighter II was the cabinet that caused players around the world to line up every machine with quarters so they could be next in line to challenge. Play as one of eight characters and fight in various locations. The Champion Edition allowed gamers to play as the bad guys, including Vega and M. Bison. SF II revitalized the industry and is one of the most influential games in arcade history. Fun Fact: By 1994, Street Fighter II had been played by over 25 million Americans. That's a lot of Hadokens.

 
Street Fighter II - The World Warrior
3

Pac-Man

Midway Manufacturing Co.
 
 

The most recognized character in video game history isn't a plumber, but a yellow circle that eats dots for a living. Pac-Man's introduction in 1980 immediately shot it into arcade super stardom. Pac-Man is perhaps the most classic arcade game ever made. There's so much Pac-Man merchandise, you could spend a lifetime trying to collect it all. They even made a song about the game that reached the Top Ten. Even though it's not #1, there's no denying Pac-Man's impact on the video game landscape. Fun Fact: Billy Mitchell scored the first ever "perfect" game on Pac-Man, essentially beating it. And nobody ever knew it could be beat!

 
Pac-Man
2

Donkey Kong

Nintendo
 
 

"If anybody wants to see, there's a Donkey Kong kill screen coming up." Just one of the classic lines from The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, a documentary about two gamers competing for the high score in one of the most difficult arcade games ever made. Donkey Kong introduced the world to Jumpman, who would later be known as Mario. You're tasked with rescuing your girlfriend in stages that are fun, but tough. It's one of the best games ever made and to this day, one of the most played and talked about by classic arcade fans. We love you, Donkey Kong! Fun Fact: Donkey Kong is considered to be the first video game with a storyline.

 
Donkey Kong
1

Ms. Pac-Man

Midway Manufacturing Co.
 
 

Released in 1982, Ms. Pac-Man is the sequel to Pac-Man and takes the dot eating maze format and spices it up with four different mazes, bouncing fruit, and an orange ghost named Sue. Ms. Pac-Man is always a blast to play, and a "turbo" mod that allows you to move even faster on the board makes the game even more fun. It's a "must-have" arcade machine for anyone looking to start their own collection. Congrats, Ms. Pac-Man, you're our #1 choice in our list of the 10 Best Classic Arcade Games. Fun Fact: Ms. Pac-Man is given the name Pepper in the Pac-Man animated series.

 
Ms. Pac-Man

Next: 10 Unsatisfying Retro Endings

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