80s Arcade Games

The 80s were a decade of all sorts of new technology. The technology that probably gave us the most joy was in the form of 80s arcade games.

They were simple compared to today’s games, but it’s that simplicity that makes them so addictive and fun.

Some of those arcade games are still as popular today as they were back in the 80s.


Pac Man

Possibly the king of them all, Pac Man was released in Japan in 1980 under the name Puck Man. When introduced in the United States, the name was changed to Pac Man to thwart potty-mouthed vandals from altering the name on the cabinet…thank goodness.

This game was a maze that Pac Man had to navigate, eating all the dots. There were four ghost enemies – Inky, Pinky, Blinky, and Clyde. They would chase Pac Man until he ate one of the four power pellets in the game corners, then they would turn and run from him.

Donkey Kong

Released in 1981, Donkey Kong was one of the first platform style games with a storyline. The angry ape had kidnapped the princess, and it was up to Jumpman to leap over things like flaming barrels and fireballs, while climbing ladders and using elevators to get to the top of the screen to save her.

Donkey Kong was the first game in the wildly popular Mario franchise, as Jumpman was actually an early version of Mario. They are both still popular Nintendo characters to this day.


This 80s arcade game is the perfect example of awesome simplicity. The player controls a spaceship at the bottom of the screen while enemies move downward from the top of the screen, shooting at the ship. The objective was to shoot all of them in order to move on to the next level.

Occasionally, a boss will appear and try to capture the player’s ship in a tractor beam. If the player manages to get the boss, their ship gets bigger, making them a larger target, but they had double the firepower.

Pole Position

This was one of the first racing games in the arcade. You started with a qualifying lap, and then moved on to the Grand Prix race.

The unique landscape and rear view perspective of this game made it considerably realistic and one of the favorites of the 80s decade.


Another great shooter game, this one had a centipede that starts at the top of the screen. The screen is full of mushrooms, and it the centipede hits them, it jumps down one level closer to the player’s ship.

The mushrooms could be destroyed, slowing the centipede’s progress, but they had to be shot four times. There are also other enemies such as spiders and scorpions that try to sabotage the ship.


The main objective of this one is to get your frog across the street, then across the river. With hazard like cars and trucks, alligators, and even water, it was a lot harder than it seemed.

The 80s were full of awesome arcade games; there was also Q*bert, Paperboy, Punch Out, Elevator Action, Moon Patrol, Defender, Burger Time, and Star Wars. It was the golden age of gaming, and these 80s arcade games lived up to their reputation – and still do.

A Illustration of an old retro arcade game.