Arcade Games

I debated whether to include these in the more massive list of Video Games, but ultimately decided to keep them separate.  As with Free Video Games, there is a special commonality among Arcade Games that sets them apart from all others.  I think it has something to do with the unique constraint of having to provide shorter play-sessions packed with fun…and a certain ‘wow factor’ that couldn’t be found on home consoles, a disparity that has lessened over time.  One thing the “Nintendo Generation” (and older) gamers have over current generations are the memories of playing so many classic arcade games back when they existed in their native physical form.  This is significant not only because their awesomeness was so much more palpable at that time, especially when found in a kitschy arcade environment, but also because so many of those games had custom tactile controls that no emulator can hope to replicate today.  In the interest of integrity though I must admit that some of these I did not discover except through the revivifying magic of emulation* which means that others still will be able to stand up and proudly declare, “…yes but I was there.”

How did these games make the list?  Among the hundreds of arcade games I have played over my lifetime, or rather in my youth, these are the games that stand out, not just as the best of the bunch but the most Memorable.  I have found that many video games are interesting or clever in that they introduce an innovative mechanic, blending of genres or something like a unique control interface – without necessarily being a wholly enjoyable or engaging experience.  This is why many of the most noteworthy games (from an historical perspective) don’t equate to a list of the best games, which is woefully subjective anyway.

Grayed out entries indicate a probably noteworthy game that I’m aware of but have played in neither physical or emulated form.

Updated 9/12/15

Computer Space (1971) Nutting Associates

Pong* (1972) Atari

Breakout* (1976) Atari

Super Bug* (1977) Kee Games

Space Invaders (1978) Midway

Asteroids (1979) Atari

Lunar Lander* (1979) Atari

Battlezone (1980) Atari

Berzerk (1980) Stern

Blockade (1976) Gremlin

Centipede (1980) Atari

Missile Command (1980) Atari

Pac-Man (1980) Midway

Rally-X (1980) Midway

Tempest (1980) Atari

Defender (1981) Williams Electronics

Donkey Kong (1981) Nintendo

Frogger (1981) Sega/Gremlin

Galaga (1981) Namco

Qix (1981) Taito

Scramble (1981) Konami

Turbo (1981) Sega

Bagman (1982) Valadon Automation

Bubbles (1982) Williams Electronics

BurgerTime (1982) Bally Midway

Dig Dug (1982) Atari

Donkey Kong Junior (1982) Nintendo

Joust (1982) Williams Electronics

Moon Patrol (1982) Irem

Pole Position (1982) Atari

Popeye (1982) Nintendo

Q*bert (1982) Gottlieb

Robotron: 2084 (1982) Williams

Time Pilot (1982) Centuri

Tron (1982) Bally Midway

Zaxxon (1982) Sega/Gremlin

Aztarac (1983) Centuri

Congo Bongo (1983) Sega

Crossbow (1983) Exidy

Dragon’s Lair (1983) Cinematronics

Elevator Action (1983) Taito

Mappy (1983) Namco

Mario Bros. (1983) Nintendo

Spy Hunter (1983) Bally Midway

Star Wars (1983) Atari

Tapper (1983) Bally Midway

Track & Field (1983) Konami

1942 (1984) Capcom

Demolition Derby (1984) Bally Midway

Hogan’s Alley (1984) Nintendo

Marble Madness (1984) Atari

Paperboy (1984) Atari

Karate Champ (1984) Data East

Arm Wrestling (1985) Nintendo

Gauntlet (1985) Atari

Ghosts ‘n Goblins (1985) Capcom

Gun.Smoke (1985) Capcom

Space Harrier (1985) Sega

720 Degrees (1986) Atari

Arkanoid (1986) Taito

Empire City: 1931 (1986) Romstar

Out Run (1986) Sega

Rampage (1986) Bally Midway

Rolling Thunder (1986) Atari

Rygar (1986) Temco

Super Sprint (1986) Atari

After Burner (1987) Sega

Bionic Commando (1987) Capcom

Black Tiger (1987) Capcom

Rastan (1987) Taito

RoadBlasters (1987) Atari

Xenophobe (1987) Bally Midway

Xybots (1987) Atari

Assault (1988) Namco

Toobin’ (1988) Atari

Vindicators (1988) Atari

Golden Axe (1989) Sega

Hard Drivin’ (1989) Atari

KLAX (1989) Atari

S.T.U.N. Runner (1989) Atari

Super Off Road (1989) Leland

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989) Konami

Ataxx (1990) Leland

Pigskin 621 A.D. (1990) Bally Midway

Rampart (1990) Atari

Street Fighter II (1991) Capcom

Time Traveler (1991) Sega

Point Blank (1994) Namco

Prop Cycle (1996) Namco

Crazy Taxi (1999) Sega

Hydro Thunder (1999) Midway Games

Credit to Arcade History (, the Killer List of Video Games (, The Internet Arcade at, and others for providing the knowledge base and useful tools for unlocking old memories.

Video Arcade Machines in the Arcade History database – 7941
Games I Remember Actually Playing – 245
Number of those Memorable Enough to mention here – 91

See Also: List of Most Memorable Video Games

Published on May 9, 2011 at 9:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

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