Arcade Classics

50 ways to spend your loose change.

For many of you reading this site, the arcade may well be the primary reason you got into videogames in the first place. That's certainly how it was for me back in 1980 and '81 when the sights and sounds of Pac-Man, Galaxian and Donkey Kong were hard wired into my brain.

At the risk of this intro piece degenerating into dewy-eyed nostalgia, I'll rein myself in right away. Aged seven in 1980, I really was the right age at exactly the right time - presented with a rapidly evolving form of electronic entertainment with very little history, and undiluted excitement surrounding it.

While I sometimes curse not being alive to witness the cultural revolution of the 1960s, here was one of my generation's Big Things, and I, like millions of others, embraced it from the very moment I clapped eyes on it. The best thing about it was you didn't have to understand it, you just went with it, carried along by the technological momentum of this strange new phenomenon. Being there at the start, seeing it unfold through a child's eyes, unsullied by preconceptions of what constituted a good or bad game, long before 'cultural demographics' had entered popular parlance. What a time to be a seven-year-old.

And what a time to be a gamer, heading down to the local arcade and being greeted by 20 or 30 of the latest and most popular cabinets, all combining to create the kind of unholy electronic racket that would have aroused members of Kraftwerk. As you'll see from this finely-honed selection of titles, we've elected to focus on what's commonly referred to as the 'Golden Age' of arcade gaming, taking in the very best titles from the late '70s through to around 1985 - focusing on 8-bit tech in the main, in all its forms and flavours.

Unlike the other platforms we've launched Eurogamer Retro with, the selection process for our Arcade channel has been relatively straightforward, given that home videogames were never ported to the arcades (not until Boulderdash, anyway, and that was later on). So what you have here is a 50-strong selection of the arcade games we were most fond of back in the formative years of videogaming. And, again, like the other lists, it's not a definitive attempt to tell you which ones were the best, just the ones we cared about most, or guilt-tripped ourselves into including for what they stood for at the time - even if we can admit to ourselves (and to you) that we don't even like some of them now. Pole Position? Phooey. Where's Checkman you muppets?

But discussion is one of the things we love about gaming. So, come on, tell us what you think we should have included on this hallowed list, and maybe we can slip it in to an expanded version at a later date. And if you agree with our choices, tell us why and how you got into this gaming lark in the first place.

Watch the video of the top 50 retro Arcade games in action over on Eurogamer TV now.

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About the author

Kristan Reed

Kristan Reed


Kristan is a former editor of Eurogamer, dad, Stone Roses bore and Norwich City supporter who sometimes mutters optimistically about Team Silent getting back together.


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