back to article Top Ten Arcade Classics

What do you remember about being twelve? I remember spending a whole summer wishing I could hang out with the cool kids but instead nicking stuff from Woolworths and ramming coin after coin into Dragon’s Lair and Defender. Seventeen? Sometimes I ponder my misspent youth playing pool in Sneaky Dee’s and ramming coin after coin …


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  1. ViagraFalls
    Thumb Up

    Nice list

    Some that I played a lot were Mortal Kombat, Terminator, Operation Wolf (which sucks the big one on the wii), Mad Dog McCree, and some helicopter simulator the name of which escapes me.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Mad Dog Mcree

      The only game worth owning a CDI for.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "some helicopter simulator"

      Steel Talons, by Atari?

    3. ViagraFalls
      Thumb Up

      Thunder Blade!

      That blew me away, with its stick and the seat moving. It was the only one of that kind in the small city I grew up in.

  2. James Hughes 1

    Two words

    Mr Do!

  3. Sir Runcible Spoon


    Wow, this lot takes me back a bit.

    Can't really complain about the list, but would like to have seen a few noteable mentions such as

    Robotron - move in 8 directions with one stick, fire in 8 directions with the other - mental

    Gauntlet - 4 player madness and stacks of fun

    Space Harrier - moving seat platform goodness

    There are others, but I think most oldies would recognise the above :)

    1. Giles Jones Gold badge

      Gauntlet 2

      Gauntlet, had many fun times with that on the Amiga. Okay it was probably Gauntlet 2 by then. On the Amiga you could plug in 4 joysticks using a parallel port adapter. I bought one for Ikari Warriors which wasn't wired right for Gauntlet, a bit of re-soldering later and it was.

      Gauntlet was one of the first arcade games that I remember having speech.

      Other games I remember well:


      Ghosts and Goblins

      Moon Buggy




      Missile Command


      1. PoorLumpyPony

        Man I loved bombjack

        I still know the correct routes for the bombs on an unhealthy number of the levels

        Tron discs was good, the other ones not so much

        Ghost and Goblins also win (if painfully difficult in the arcade)

      2. LuMan

        Arcade Speak

        I remember playing GORF some years before Gauntlet. I was drawn to its ominous cabinet by the hypnotic "INSUURT COYNE" digitised speech. Cost me a bleedin' fortune, it did!

        1. Bod


          Star Wars had speech. "May the force be with you", etc.

          Best game of the lot. If I had the space some day, I will own a sit down Star Wars cabinet :)

          Nice list anyway, and wasted my time on all of those except the last one.

          But I'd definitely add Gauntlet. Maybe even Tempest.

        2. Ugotta B. Kiddingme


          KAA KAA KAA KAA!

          I think Wizard of Wor had the same speech synth. Legendary stuff.

          Memories like the ones in the article are why I built a videogame cabinet of my own. There is a thriving aftermarket is the control boards for these. Swap a couple connectors and you have an entirely different game AND don't have to fret over copyright issues with emulators like MAME

      3. Anthony Prime

        Oh yes!

        I can hear that lovely synth voice even now...

        "Valkyrie, Prepare to Die"

        Bl00dy thing... ;-)

  4. A 31

    must have been a close call with ...

    Double dragon !!

    (that got a lot more coins than the first SF)

  5. TrixyB

    what about...

    Operation wolf? Gauntlet? I suppose the list would never be complete....

  6. John White
    Thumb Up

    Use the Frorce Luke!

    Ah, remeber some of these FAR too well. Sixth form it was battlezone and Defender - even have De3ender for Psion and enjoyed even round 200 - now onto Defendguin the Tux clone - still all good. Best memories were with Star Wars - repeatedly failing to plant the torpedo home - probably something to do with 4+ pints late at night in Student Union least I *think* I got to firing the torpedo.....

  7. buggane

    countdown humanoid intruder alert

    No Robotron? A serious ommission.

  8. Matt K

    A few more to add to the list...

    Gauntlet II - I can still hear "warrior needs food badly" echoing in my head.

    Rampage - giant gorilla for the win.

    Operation Thunderbolt - me and a friend once spent £13 on a school day trip to Brighton completing this in the arcade rather than checking out the talent on the beaches. We never spoke again after the whole "who shot the hostage?" debacle at the end.

  9. Tom Melly

    Too short

    Only 10? And no Strider or R-Type?

    Tcchh - I'm not coming to your video arcade. Hardly worth getting my change from the grumpy git in the glass box for...

    1. seanj
      Thumb Up

      Strider and R-Type

      The two games that took most of my pocket money... Would definitely have made my top 10.

  10. gaijinpunch


    That'd be "shoryuken" (or shouryuuken if you're a linguist). Not a bad list otherwise.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wot no Frogger?


  12. Joel Mansford
    Thumb Up

    Ah...the memories...

    I'm not sure about Time Crisis, it's a little too modern but for me Silent Scope is the best in the 'got gun' category.

    Anyone in Reading should go to the Allied Arms pub where there's still the table version of bomb-jack. Classic.

    Street Fighter has to be the number 1.

    1. corrodedmonkee


      I can see why Time Crisis is on there. I'm still drawn to every Time Crisis machine I find.

      I bought it on the Playstation too with the Gcon45, and set up a second controller to act as a pedal.

      I've not seen a Time Crisis cabinet around in a while, but there is a Time Crisis II cabinet in the Bowling alley in Camberley.

      1. jai


        my girlfriend and i once spent a very happy afternoon in the Trocadero at Leicester Sq determined to complete Time Crisis. i think we also spent about 20 quid each in the endeavour, cos we weren't all that good at it, but it was still good fun

      2. D@v3

        Time Crisis

        I'm not long back from Butlins in Minehead, I know i saw Time Crisis 3 and 4 in the main arcade, but im pretty sure there was a 2 knocking about in one of the dodgy beachfront arcades.

        We used to have a Time Crisis at the Laser Quest i worked at about 10 years ago, god knows how much of my pay packet went in that......

      3. Chris Harden


        Mymy, nice to see a fellow Camberley Lad on El Reg - That arcade is by far one of the best things to have happened to Camberley in a loooong time.

        Mainly because of the Time Crisis machine there.

    2. Greg J Preece

      Time Crisis LIVES!

      I'm a Time Crisis nutjob, personally - I love light gun games, and every time you think Sega, Taito or someone else are catching up, Namco release a new one that once again blows everything else out of the water. I love them so much I own every single one - I even bought a special gun so I can play the PS2 versions upscaled on my PS3.

      I was quite astonished just last month to find an original deluxe edition Time Crisis machine hidden away on the top floor of an amusements in Blackpool, in the same room as deluxe editions of House of the Dead 1, Virtua Cop 2, and GUNBLADE! There's one no-one's mentioned. Gunblade absolutely ruled. (It's out on the Wii now - bloody faithful port, too.)

      When I was a bairn - unfortunately not far enough back to play some of these - I played a lot of Daytona USA, Outrun, Terminator 2, Gunblade, X-Men, and Galaga. Actually, surprised Galaga/Galaxian didn't get a mention.

      1. Si 1

        TIME CRISIS!!!!

        I loved Time Crisis, I've not been able to play it for bloody years either thanks to light guns not working on modern TVs. I'm at the point now of seriously considering buying the arcade machine off eBay and putting it in the garage....

        The first TC is still the best IMHO as it focused on getting the fastest possible time, whereas the sequels became obsessed with score. Spamming headshots on the same flying body would rack up the points, but it wasn't the same as the pin-point accuracy needed to nail a boss just as he's diving out of cover to shave a few milliseconds off your time in TC1.

        Oddly the PS1 version's clock was faster I think, I found it easy to get sub-10 minute completion times on the arcade machine with no practice (aside from familiarity with the PS1 version), yet on the PS1 itself to get a sub-11 minute time was really pushing it.

        From what I've seen, modern light guns work like the Wii, using infra-red as reference points, which is a real shame as I find when the Wii remote is used as a list gun it is totally inaccurate and utterly fails to deliver the same accuracy that the old GunCons had.

        1. Sooty

          the wii remote

          is ok as a light gun, it just takes some unexpectedly precision calibration to get it working properly.

          Took me a very long time to get it to recognise my whole tv correctly for house of the dead.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        My favourite bit of Time Crisis?

        Unbelievably cheesy dialogue during the opening:


  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    And how could you forget...

    Donkey Kong!

    Otherwise 9/10

  14. Elmer Phud

    New games

    As an old person I was in to pinball which was nudged out of the way by machines that took less space and needed far less maintenance.

    For nostalgia I use Future Pinball a free pinball simulator that others write tables for. There are some very welcome reminders of a mis-spent youth especially some of the German machines. There is a good mixture of machines to load in, some carefully recreated from old and some brand new, some are wonderful and some are shite.

    The sound of the coin dropping in the slot is just the start , the rest of the evening can be easily lost.

    And it's all free.

    1. Jim 59
      Thumb Up

      Pin ball

      People around my age (43) just timed it right for video games, and home computers for that matter. I still remember my friends describing Space Invaders to me, after they discovered it at the local baths: "It's like pinball! All these monsters.. you shoot them its like pinball!". They were in a frenzy about it.

      Pinball's not dead, the real machines are still around - aren't they ?

      1. Goat Jam

        I have a Pinball

        Much better than Video Games.

        Except for maybe Discs Of Tron. Loved that game.

      2. Cowardly Animosity


        I spent hours playing pinball on Southwold Pier this summer, my kids thought I'd gone nuts...

  15. Rob Crawford

    Sod Mortal Combat

    it should have been Double Dragon, Donkey King, Spy Hunter, Xevious, Lunar Lander or Asteroids

    But with the presence of Battle Zone and Defender I will mostly forgive you

    1. It'sa Mea... Mario
      Thumb Up

      Up voted for being first to mention Spy Hunter!

      Spy Hunter was my addiction, and Jail Break. Both bloody hard when I was a kid playing in arcades/family pubs. In fact still hard compared to todays games. The only reason I can get a bit further on them these days is I can play as much as I like with MAME and not run out of pocket money.

      Space Invaders had to be on list of course and Pac Man, but so should Donkey Kong! All classics.

    2. Paul Johnston
      Thumb Up

      Thank god I'm not alone

      Was at college in 79 and remember watching the Iranians on our course playing this.

      They were always so much better than us but could afford to play all day!

  16. stucs201

    Not too bad,

    but where is Missile Command?

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Not too bad,

      Good Q - edged out at the last minute by Battlezone, that's why. There were a lot of heated arguments in the Reg Hardware office about this one, let me tell you.

      1. Thomas 4

        Another fatal omission

        Golden Axe was another one that deserved a place in there. Good to see I'm not the only one that remembers strider though.

      2. Dapprman
        IT Angle

        And a good decission too :)

        Missile Command was good, but Battle Zone was both good and different, and for a 12 year old short arse like myself, a real challenge to play.

        1. David Paul Morgan

          missile command...

          Where you sacrificed your cities to protect your missiles. Loved the giant track.ball.

  17. BorkedAgain

    Ah... Happy memories of mis-spent youth...

    ...watching kids with some co-ordination play these behemoths. My own 10p would generally give me about 15 seconds of frustrated button-hammering and ultimate fail. Except Dig Dug, for which I had an uncanny affinity...

    Never noticed before but isn't Ryu (is that his name? Tom-Cruise-looking bloke in white PJs in Street Fighter...) wearing red stilettos? All this time and I had no idea the game was about catty TVs...

  18. Squealster

    10p for Star Wars? Nah!

    I loved Star Wars but I seem to remember it was not that cheap. In fact I think one of the first machines to accept the new 20p and (in some arcades) was actually 50p a go way back in '83.

    However for that outlay you didn't get the usual coin-added bleep - you got Mr. Hamill himself saying, "Red five, standing by!". <*Sigh*> Worra game!

  19. Ed Courtenay

    Green Elf Has Eaten All The Food Lately....

    What, no Gauntlet? The four-player coin guzzling classic from Atari was the biggest draw at our local Arcade pit, and consumed far more of my moolah than was healthy.

    Other classics that used to part me from my cash were Atari's Marble Madness, Irem's R-Type (damn that was hard!) and Double Dragon (once you found the reverse-elbow move, the game was easy to beat)

    Ooh, and Xybots... [drifts off into Arcade game reverie....]

  20. silky johnson

    Not bad

    But I'd have to have Exerion and Xevious on my all-time list.

    Honorable mentions for Gyruss, Double Dragon and Sinistar (if only for booming "Run coward!!" voice that punctuates the game).

    I'm getting nostalgic. TIme to dig up my MAME ROMs....

  21. stewbagz

    Great list but missing ..

    Phoenix (played while queueing for the Defender machine), TRON, Karate Champ, Centipede, and CheckMan ...

    1. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Great list but missing ..

      Centipede = Space Invaders + legs

      1. Steven Knox


        Centipede had the trackball, and you could move all around the screen -- and the centipede did as well. Nothing like Space Invaders.

  22. moonface

    Kung Fu Master

    Good list but I would definitely replace Shinobi with Kung-Fu Master. The first time I ever saw that, in an arcade in Weymouth, it literally blew my little cotton socks away!!

    Asteriods should at least get a mention, as that was huge in its day. Dragons Lair machines were never that popular in the arcades I frequented, as everyone at the time, was too busy playing Track and Field.

    I remember the highlight of any holiday was to find the arcade. It's such a shame they seem such depressing places now.

  23. Mike Bell


    I spent more money in the arcades on GORF than on anything else. It was about five games in one.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      @ GORF

      Remember many happy hours playing Gorf, particularly as we had a machine in the local arcade that would recognise a 10p coin in the 50p slot...

    2. Graham Marsden
      Thumb Up


      Some Galactic De-fender you are, Space Ca-det!

  24. ted209

    The graphics weren't basic

    "It didn’t matter that the graphics were basic - these games were addictive because of the simplicity."

    This was not my experience at the time - the graphics were amazing, I remember seeing games like outrun and streetfighter and being blown away at how great the graphics were.

    The point of reference for most people was their C64/Spectrum at home, and the arcade graphics were far superior.

    1. BossHog
      Thumb Up


      They still look awesome to me now :)

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A little later on

    But Mortal Kombat,. and races on Sega Ralley with my bro's were classic stuff.

  26. Lottie

    Good round up

    My only addition would be Afterburner. The big moving cockpit, the sounds, the shouting from my parents after I spent all my holiday money on it in one day...

    But Time Crisis, yeah, spot on the money there. Takes me back to my college days...

    Dammit, I want to head to the local cinema now and play games :-(

    1. AAWW
      Thumb Up

      Well said

      I was scrolling through the posts wondering how everyone seemed to have forgotten Afterburner - happy days...

    2. Dapprman

      But that was not the original one

      Top Gun was the original version of that game - and yes it came out after the success of the movie.

      Also, as far as I'm aware, the most successful version of this game was actually the Area-88 series - not sure we ever got it in the UK.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Space Invaders

    Remember that well ... we had one in our school computer lab ... cost 10p/game ... until someone discovered that if you rocked the machine to make something in the coin mechanism shake enough then it would register up to 100 free credits!

    Battlezone, another I remember.

    As for most of the rest - never really played any of these "modern" games

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      there was a lever

      inside the door, that the coin tripped on it's way down, if you could wobble this lever in any other way you also got a credit.

      I miss arcade games with the equivalent of a quality street wrapper stuck to the screen to provide colour!

  28. teacake


    Galaxian, Gorf, Terra Cresta. Spy Hunter. Scramble.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Streets of Rage!!!! Ahhh many hours lost on that game, it saddens me that it isn't here.

    TBH here in the UK the arcade market died in the 90s and we havn't really seen any new games since (the odd house of the dead and a few racing games not counted lol) which is a shame. And though one would say these are arcade classics they arn't that far removed from when the UK arcade market died.

    I still love going to Japan and playing in an arcade (game center), though with the current exchange rate it's expensive, (about 70p a game), awesome bullet hell games like this

    Capsule games like the Gundam (where you go into a capsule and pilot your giant robot with a team of mates )

    Exciting RPG games, CCG games where you put cards on a play field and the game reads the details for a full on experiance. There's an amazing giant robot game, border brake, , there are lots of retro feeling fighters like melty blood.

    But then the Japanese arcade market stayed boyent due to cultural reasons (you don't tend to invite people around to your house so if you want to play socially you go to a game center) also the newest titles come out in the game center first. Many never get ported to a home format.

    Another advantage is most Game Center games have seats, also they have standard units where you just replace the game board and front panel and you have a new game.

  30. Neil 6

    Robotron 2084

    The greatest arcade game ever made. I especially like the nod to it in COD BlackOps, if you unlock the Arcade Zombie bonus game it's a SmashTV===>Robotron rip off. Great fun.

  31. Bailey

    Pleasure Island in Aldershot

    Was the second best arcade in the country after Southend's Sunspot.

    But I digress.

    R-Type (of course), Saint Dragon, Darius Twin and Ninja Warriors (three screens, man!), Test Drive, Virtua Racing, F1 Circus (one of those funny Japanese lost in translations), Commando, Xevious, Choplifter, 1943, Ghosts and Goblins, Rastan, Bad Dudes vs Dragon Ninja, Smash TV, Sidewinder, Contra. I could go on and on...

    Oh, and ps that's a picture from the original Street Fighter. If my memory serves me correctly, it only had two (very big) buttons for each player (and wasn't very good).

    1. lpopman
      Thumb Up

      titular appendage

      "F1 Circus (one of those funny Japanese lost in translations)"

      I remember that one. It was definitely an Engrish translation, but the irony is that F1 is also known as the F1 Circus because of the moving from venue to venue.

  32. Louis 5

    I think...

    ...I love Lucy after reading that article... :)

  33. Ivor


    blimey. that's my childhood. all of those. just missing donkey kong.

  34. Jim 59

    Runners up

    How about a second list of lesser-known but excellent classics. Can only think of one so far tho - QUARTET !

  35. Graham Bartlett


    Space Harrier FTW. The sheer *speed* that all the scenery came up at you was mindblowing, even before you reckoned on the scenery being 50-foot-high multicoloured metallic mushrooms. Afterburner was fun, but nothing like as good as Space Harrier.

    But the list misses out Pitfighter. OK, it doesn't have the special moves of other games, but it replaced those with being realistic, and with moving at the speed of a real fight. Street Fighter, you could hang back and fire stuff. With Pitfighter, hanging back just got you kicked to death.

    The list also misses out Hard Drivin'. Fully 3D graphics, a steering wheel which pulled against you when you do stuff, a manual box with 4 gears, and tracks where it wasn't just about going flat out with briefly dropping to low gear. And you got a stunt track with a broken-bridge jump, a loop-the-loop, and various other goodness. Outrun was cool and fun, but Hard Drivin' was *THE* first realistic driving game, the daddy of every current rally/F1 sim.

  36. Marky W

    Ahhh. Warm fuzzy feelings....

    Best. List. Evar.

    Apart from Time Crisis, natch. Replace with Sidearmz or Wonderboy. Or Galaga (OMG double spaceship!!!one!!). Or Bubble Bobble.

  37. Sonny Jim


    Surely some mistake? You must have meant Street Fighter II, almost no one has played Streetfighter.

    Also, where's Robotron:2084 (grumble grumble). Copied many times but never bettered.

  38. nobla

    No Asteroids

    I cant see Asteroids on the list, the first game to include a high score chart!

    surely some mistake?

  39. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Wise from your Gwave

    Altered Beast, not because it was any good but because it was cheap down the arcade.

    Later on Riiidge Raceeer, but that was probably too modern to be included.

  40. Peter Kay

    I was somewhat less than 12 in '78

    Space Invaders therefore passed me by. The earliest game I played was probably Frantic Freddy on a Spectravideo.

    Pac Man is of course eternal, and Tank Attack remains pretty decent. Beyond that, many of the classics are showing their age.

    If I had to nominate a few more arcade classics that'd be more tricky as I never really used coinops much

    Galaga - splendid shmup action, much better than Space Invaders

    Tank Attack - still fun

    Pac Man

    Arkanoid - loved the block destruction games

    Would definitely agree with Star Wars. Played it only briefly, but the coinop rocks - even now!

    Space Wars - this is superb on a Vectrex, but originated on coinop

    Gauntlet - mostly played home computer version here, but coinop was great


    Nemesis II - cause Nemesis 3 for the MSX was never a coinop

    Street Fighter - simply because I spent lots of time watching friends try and beat it

  41. TkH11


    "It didn’t matter that the graphics were basic - these games were addictive because of the simplicity."

    The graphics were NOT basic. They are basic now. At the time, they were cutting edge, I never ever once recall thinking "The graphics are crap".

    With innovations such as Gorf and speech synthesis, simultaneous multi-player capability of Gauntlett, the wireframe 3D vector graphics of BattleZone and the very fast paced action of Defender and Robotron, it was a grand time..

    And all achieved on 8 bit microprocessors clocked at 1 or 2MHz.

    Windows eat your heart out.

  42. Pahhh

    So many to choose from ... top 10 cant be made.

    Good list although I do agree there are some serious omitions:

    - Asteroids (this really really ought to be there)

    - Scramble (this is such a classic, cant believe no-one mentioned it)

    - Xevious

    - Donkey Kong (classic although i didnt like it)

    - Joust (More early Atari goodness)

    - Nemesis (a trully great game - think its called something outside UK)

    - Marble Madness

    - Missile command


    - Gorf (that game used to freak me out as it used to be first game i remember that talked)

    - Mr Do (irrating)

    - Pheonix (fantastic shoot'em up)

    - Galaga (as above)

    - Frogger (annoying buy... hey its a classic)

    - Pole Position (its a classic)

    - Robotron

    - Track'n'Field

    - Galaxian

    - Moon Cresta

    - Castles

    - Paper Boy

    I remember some other vectar oldies like Tailgunner and Space Wars ( PvP only game - awesome), Space Pirates.

    Crap too many. Uhmm... wasted youth :)

    1. Peter Kay


      Nemesis is titled Gradius over in Japan, and there's also Parodius - an official parody of Nemesis with even more bizarre ships and enemies.

      At some point they decided not to separate the names, and now all releases seem to be called Gradius.

      shmups aren't very popular these days, so I expect that might be why.

      If you want a commercial shmup for the PC I'd thoroughly recommend Jets n' Guns Gold

  43. Anonymous Coward

    Kids of today...

    Just look at the stuff we had that they miss out on by spending all day glued to a computer screen...

  44. markflickr

    Fantastic Memories

    I used to repair these games as i worked in several arcades around those years, i never lost the admiration for them, Star Wars is my particular favourite.

  45. TkH11

    Anyone remember this game?

    Anyone remember a game based on an F15 ( I think it was), and real life video stored on a laser disk, with computer generated graphics superimposed over the top?

    1. Craig Chambers

      After Burner?

      Are you referring to After Burner? Came in several varieties,the biggest hydraulic version of which I was told could do a 360 roll (though I never saw this version).

    2. lpopman
      Thumb Up

      titular thingy

      "Anyone remember a game based on an F15 ( I think it was), and real life video stored on a laser disk, with computer generated graphics superimposed over the top?"

      Either M.A.C.H. 3



  46. Anonymous Coward

    Wot, no Gauntlet?

    Seems to be a big ommission.

    Wizard has shot the food!

    Elf is about to die!

    Shots hurt other players!

    Skull and Crossbones because it looks a bit like a monster generator.

  47. Mark 110


    As others have said Gauntlet was awesome - cost me masses of dinner and ciggie money in my 6th form common room.

    Other arcade conversions that seriously addicted me on my C64 - Bubble Bobble, Scramble, Arkanoid.

  48. Avatar of They
    Thumb Up

    Sadly missing a few.

    Double Dragon, because you and a mate could tag team and work together.

    Gauntlet, which never seemed to end.

    R-type, the first game I ever finished.

  49. matthew rose

    What about!



    Burger Time

    Ghosts n' Goblins


    Final Fight


    Congo Bongo

    Mario Bros

  50. overloaded

    Metal Slug

    What no metal slug

  51. Chris 171
    Thumb Up

    +1 for Marble Madness!

    Now happily rinsing every version of Super Monkey Ball I can get my hands on.


  52. JohnG

    This takes me back a bit

    My game was Battlezone - many hours wasted on the machine at the campus supermarket.

    I also have fond memories of the "pub table" variant of PacMan. Wacka Wacka Wacka Wacka.....

  53. This post has been deleted by its author

  54. Doogie Howser MD

    Another vote for Gauntlet here!

    "Valkyrie is about to die!!" - cue zillions of 10p's in the slot to try and get more health. Somehow whacking the square button on a PSP to the same end isn't quite as much fun...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      High Score Board

      I don't know if it was the same on all Gauntlet machines or just the one I most played on, but you could only get on the high score board if you only used one credit.

      You had to choose between continuing the game and transitory fame.

  55. Ian 55

    I mostly had too much sense (and too little money)

    .. but, yes, I miss Missile Command and, unmentioned so far, Qix.

  56. Dapprman
    Thumb Up

    A great list

    I think I played most those games when they were new. A couple I'd also consider (which may have been just outside the top 10) would be

    Galaxians - the first game to have diagonally moving targets

    Phoenix Command - all the best bits of Space Invaders and Galaxians and possibly the first game with an end of stage boss.

    Gauntlet - deserves to be in just because s many of us will remember those immortal words of 'Elf is about to die'. Also I seem to remember it was the first true multi-player game, as opposed to taking turns. I could be wrong on that though - there may have been co-operation fighting games before then.

  57. TonkaToys

    Anyone remember...


    I'm sure all that repetitive up and down button bashing with the right hand has given me a life skill.

  58. b166er
    Thumb Up

    Tit le

    Splatterhouse, Altered Beast, Track'n'Field, Pacland. Our local Pacland was mastered by one guy. When this happened, an on-board fuse blew which meant from then on Trip 1-1 started at a faster speed!

    Always will remember being at the fair while they were packing up and just hearing a rather eerie 'Remember, the force will be with you, always' coming from the arcades every few minutes.


  59. Mark 133
    Thumb Up

    Not a bad list...

    Covered most of the classic arcade genres, though I'd personally substitute Operation Wolf for Time Crisis, and Kung Fu Master or perhaps Shao-Lin's Road) for Shinobi.

    I'd also like to namecheck Dragon Ninja and Golden Axe, both of which I played constantly (partly I suspect because they were a lot easier to progress on than most games), Ghosts & Goblins, just for being beautifully atmopheric and frustratingly tough, and Time Pilot for being different to everything else available at the time.

  60. James Campbell Andrew

    Galaga! GALAGA!

    Shame, shame on you for not mentioning Galaga! By far the best of the Space Invaders-esque games, far better than Galaxians.

  61. TkH11

    Lucy and Defender

    Lucy Orr, a woman used to play Defender?!! I'm impressed.

    I used to play Defender a lot, started in the 80s and continued even in the 90's if I came across it in amusement arcades in Blackpool, never ever once saw a girl playing it.

    1. ferretgirl

      High Score?

      You should have been in St Ives, I could have kicked your ass.

  62. ThomH

    Nobody else for Puzzle Bobble?

    No, nobody? Bubble Bobble then?

    Fine, I'll line up in the 'Robotron was robbed' line.

  63. David Lawrence

    Too much time down the arcade....

    ...and not enough time at English lessons, learning the difference between ITS and IT'S. Lovely article but several crimes against the apostrophe committed here. See me afterwards.

    My personal list of games that are missing...



    Gorf (my Gorfian robots are invincible, Space Cadet!)

    Otherwise, great article!

  64. KCM

    ... and it was *gameplay*

    Seriously, the reason why these are darn good games is because they were playable and pickable.

    You can have the wonderful (what now seems nbasic)l vector graphics of the Star Wars Cabinet, but the moment you sat in that chair, pumped the 10p's in, you were Luke Skywalker...

    Because you could play it. And you *were* going to blow that Death Star up. Even if it costed you your pocket money....

  65. TkH11


    Whilst some may look down upon how much time we spent hanging out in arcades as teenagers, I think it was actually quite a good thing.

    If you visit any arcade today, the video games have all but gone, with fruit machines dominating.

    Some arcades (in seaside towns such as Bournemouth) do have video games, but they're mostly old, nothing innovative (except the multi-screen Sega Airline Pilots).

    I still go into the arcades, to check them out, to see if there's any games worth playing, but rarely there is these days. (I suspect my girlfriend thinks I'm a bit weird going into the arcades, but when you've grown up in a seaside town with little to do but hang-out on the seafront and hang around in the arcades, it's a must)

    These days, everyone's playing there Xbox or Wii at home. We developed our social interaction skills as kids hanging out in arcades, we got out and about, we weren't mollycoddled and wrapped in cotton wool and protected from the 'dangerous' outside.

    I play Defender on the PC (original ROMS running under emulation), but it's not the same as being in an arcade, standing up against the game chassis, with all the real buttons and having friends around with you, taking it in turns, watching others play, joining in the excitement.

    1. Bailey


      The game you mention is M.A.C.H. 3.

      It was the second laserdisc arcade game to be released after Dragon's Lair.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    The best

    Track & Field (wasn't it called Hyper Olympics in some places?)

    HyperSports (can't beat the old skeet shooting)

  67. Graham Marsden

    Oh and regarding Dragon's Lair...

    ... the only thing you needed to be able to do in this game was remember a sequence of moves and recognise whether it was the "left side" or "right side" version because to add "variety" the game would display a mirror image of the current scenario.

    Oh, and there was a lovely money maker if you could do this because if you completed Player 2 before Player 1, P1 would end up with effectively infinite lives, so I'd offer inexperienced players a deal "give me 50p and I'll finish P2 for you..." :-)

  68. Graham Marsden

    Got to put in my favourites here which should be on the list...

    ... many a 10p spent on:

    R-Type (Level 6 was always an absolute ba$tard to beat!)

    Spy Hunter (Dum dum dum da dum Da dum DAH dum, Deeee dee...)


    Tetris (I once held all the records in our Students' Union!)

    Afterburner - For the moving cockpit

    But the all time great had to be Xevious, not least because I once managed to play for one and a half *hours* on one 10p piece! :-)

  69. Elsie
    Thumb Up

    Lol @ all us oldies

    All these games bring back loads of memories of feeding 10p coins into machines in Skegness arcades only for my Mum or Dad to stand behind me telling me they're leaving and to hurry up!

    This kind of thing is always going to cause a big debate but this list should include at least one vertical shoot-em-up scroller ala 1942, Halleys Commet or my personal favourite Flying Shark. This was the only arcade game I ever completed and on a few occasions, managaed to do so on a single life. I got so good the Leicester arcade I played in up the difficulty to make it harder!

    There are other notable omissions such as the aforementioned Asteroids, Gorf, Mr Do!, Crystal Castles, Centepiede (remember the trackballs?!) and countless others that are slowly dissapearing from memory. I remember my Mum and I playing "Boot Hill", a B&W shooter with a cowboy on each side of the screen - and she always used to beat me!

    I need to get MAME running again ...

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    Does anyone else feel that games like Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat kill arcades for a few years. Dull Dull Dull.

    A few of my favourites :

    Dig Dug

    Crazy Climber


    god bless being a kid in the 80's and MAME for nostalgia.

  71. Craig Chambers
    Thumb Up

    Good list - others I remember...

    Phoenix, Galaxian and the above-mentioned Gorf were early modifications on Space Invaders and all swallowed significant money from me. Later excellent shooters included Nemesis(AKA Gradius)

    Lots of money in my late teenage years was spent on two player games such as the excellent Midnight Resistance and Ikari Warriors (both games had rotating gun directional control on the joystick), Aliens, Punisher and Final Fight as well as multiplayer fun in the form of Ironman Stewart's Super Off Road and teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

  72. WonkoTheSane
    Thumb Up

    The trick with Star Wars...

    Was to NOT shoot anything in the Trench, just dodge.

    That was worth many bonus points for "Using the Force".

    Pacman had a fatal flaw - Once you passed 3million points, it started listing its source code on the screen.

    Nostalgia fans might like to google for "MAME" - The Multi Arcade Machine Emulator.

    1. Bod


      the torpedo bit was easy. Just point down and keep shooting as you approached it. Don't bother aiming at the hole. Always went in.

  73. Sean Bergeron

    Big one

    In the words of Frank Black (aka. Black Francis), or Pixies fame.....

    "Whatever happened to Pong?"

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Great list

    Just wanted to say that this is a great list and I'd find it difficult to argue with it.

    I hated Dragon's Lair, but can't argue that it's a classic.

    I'd say it needs to be Street Fighter 2 and not Street Fighter ... it was 2 which was the game changer.

    I recognise Defender as a classic, but personnaly prefered Joust and Robotron from Williams - they seemed to have cornered the market in quirky games like nobody else's (Sinistar, anyone).

  75. Zolko Silver badge

    Where are the *-Kong ?

    Whoa, I know them all.

    Except, how could you forget Crazy-Kong and Donkey-Kong Jr. ? I had the high-scores on them !!!

    As for Pac-Man, the best player in college had a circuit, always the same, that would work in all levels, meaning that the ghosts behave the same way all the time.

  76. stucs201

    Hands up

    everyone who would like to chuck out their coffee table and replace it with one of these games in cocktail cabinet format...

    (Though I doubt many have a girlfriend/wife who would allow such a thing)

    1. Rob Beard
      Thumb Up

      Oh yes!

      Yep I'd love to do that, can't really afford it at the moment though.

      Ironically too my wife WILL let me get one, in fact she wants one running Space Invaders!


    2. Danny 14


      like jailbreak

  77. Simon Round

    Not a Bad....

    ..... List

    But how about...

    Nemesis - One of the few games I could complete. With the crowds gathering round to watch. Ahh the memories.

    Gauntlet - Played this for many hours and many 10p's. I remember stacking up the 10p pieces on the machine to show you were playing for a long time and hogging the game.

    Slap Fight - staying alive for as long as possible with out killing anything to get all the power ups.

    Bubble Bobble - Lovely graphics, colourfull and fun to play.

    Rear Gunner - One of the first sit down cabinet games. Simple vector graphics and once you learn the sequence you could play for hours on 10p.

    Right... Where did I put my MAME roms...

  78. Pahhh

    I have had to have ONE arcade game.. mine will be

    If I had to have one arcade game - we talking stand up and play , I choose Atari's Defender.

    I remember when the game first arive and the haunting stereo sounds - the sound and speed of action was every thing. A true adreline fueled game.

    If I had to own one arcade machine, it would be Defender.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Wasn't that a Williams Game

      Not Atari?

      1. CADmonkey


        As in, "Williams Arcade Classics" which I have running on Windows 7x64 via DOSbox.

        Defender is perfect. Also has JOUST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and Robotron

    2. StooMonster

      Williams Defender

      My favourite game for a very long time, also loved the sequel Stargate. If I had room for one single standup and play cabinet in my house, it would be a Defender one.

      Eugene Jarvis was a gaming genius.

  79. Brian 65
    Thumb Up

    What i remember playing was

    G-Loc on the R360, where you could strangely enough rotate 360 in the chair.

    That and Gauntlet....

  80. Chris Eaton

    the best game ever STILL

    double dragon - that is all

  81. Pahhh


    Sorry..... you are right Defender and Joust were Williams - I feel ashamed.

  82. TyML


    And Gauntlet....4 player cabinet ...with my dad on hand pumping in the pound coins each time one of us died......Priceless....well for me and my mates anyway!

  83. Dapprman

    The worst thing about this article is ...

    I've seen cabinets for sale before on eBay - I'm now tempted to look for a Battlezone or Defender

  84. TyML

    Excellent article Reg

    Excellent article Reg

    Having spent ridiculous amounts of time in Arcades over different periods of my life my favs would have to be :

    Dig Dug - Might have been the first game I was actually addicted to.

    Kung Fu Master

    Street fighter 2

    Space Harrier - (with the full on moving chair) has to be in the top 10.

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    since no one else has mentioned them ...



    .. although I was never much good at either. A few years ago I played the Bosconian clone (bosclonian?) Kobo Deluxe for a bit and did quite well, although my laptop keyboard was probably less happy about the experience.

    1. Goat Jam

      Battle Stations

      Thank you! I was reading through the comments all the while thinking "Now what was that game that I used to put tonnes of coins through?" and there it is . .


      Alert! Alert!

  86. A J Stiles
    Thumb Up

    Some you missed

    GORF. Moon Cresta. Phoenix. Scramble. Time Pilot. Hunchback.

    And how could you possibly leave out Track and Field?

  87. tranzophobia
    Thumb Up






    Kung Fu Master

    Track and Field

    Prehistoric Isle

    Golden Axe

    Super Sprint



    Virtua Fighter


    Good list though.

  88. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Almost, but not quite

    What about Paperboy? That was a truly original classic arcade game.

  89. Guido Esperanto

    ahhh time crisis

    Did anyone else do what I did and hold the barrel of the gun forward with your thumbs, to stop the recoil.

    I fcked many a time crisis gun up doing that. (well the recoil anway).

    I'm torn up about SF1 though. I'm a little too young to remember SF1, and remember throwing all my money away on SF2 and Final Fight, two great capcom games.

    Gauntlet was a hog, hated the way you could put money in to keep your health high.

    1. Greg J Preece

      I never used to do it...

      ...but I used to try and hunt down the machine-wrecking sons-of-bitches that did do it...

      There's actually a calibration code on the later machines, so you can calibrate the gun yourself before playing, and optionally turn the recoil off.

  90. buckie
    Thumb Up

    #Matthew Rose

    Zaxxon, Tempest = Good Taste.

    The arcade machines that kept high scores even after being turned off were a great step forward at the time. "All Time Greats" etc :) Used to be top on Tempest at our arcade, few years later went to an Arcade few miles away in Blackpool and there I was...

    Also worth a mention

    Mr Do's Castle: Still Playable.

    Rip Off: Vector graphics, load of triangles in the middle of the screen that you had to stop getting nicked by waves of baddies. Right I think I'm done for the day!

  91. Paul RND*1000
    Thumb Up


    Atari's Sprint 2 was almost certainly my first arcade play, or possibly Space invaders. I remember those tabletop ones, with controls at each end and the screen would flip in 2 player mode. I think I played at least one PacMan in a tabletop cabinet, too.

    Might I also add Pole Position and Breakout to this excellent list?

    Reminds me so much of my favourite bits of childhood. The only time I got to play arcade games was on holiday (Butlins FTW!) and that included the various "rest stops" on the way south toward Mosney, most of which had a Space Invaders cabinet tucked in the corner. It's a miracle we didn't all die really, 4 adults, 2 kids and their luggage jammed into a Talbot Horizon or Vauxhall Chevette with a driver who was surely pretty merry well before we arrived. Anyway I spent a LOT of time and parental money in the camp's main amusement arcade.

    Probably explains my tendency to avoid the sunlight and skip today's overblown 3D megagames for some MAME fun.

  92. Chris B

    Some obvious omissions

    What's with the jump from 1990 to 1996? That's a pretty piss poor compilation imo. Notable omissions include Golden Axe, R-Type (pretty much defining the whole genre of shoot em ups), Afterburner (shit game but a stand out in technology - remember its moving cabinet?), Operation Wolf, Gauntlet (man, those sound effects, or was that gauntlet 2?). Street Fighter 1 is notable in your inclusion, however its impact was fairly limited and it wasn't till Street Fighter 2 hit the arcades that the game really took off.

  93. Chris B
    Thumb Up

    Kung Fu Master

    Just remembered this classic from the posts above. What a game, and I can still vividly remember the music! Also an arcade game that converted well to pretty much every home computer of the time.

  94. OrsonX

    snorting amyl nitrate in the park

    Am I getting old or is that just a little bit below acceptable editorially?

    1. lpopman

      titular stuff

      I dunno about getting old, but it was a perfectly legal high back then (probably still now cos it aint GHB), and more socially acceptable than glue and other solvents.

      Memories of a raver :)

  95. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely i can't be the only one who played


    The music, the ducks, the pipes, the squealing bears between screens.

    Quack, quack, i loved it.

    PS other faves were Asteriods, Galaxians and Phoenix.

  96. Rob Beard

    Street Fighter?

    Not a bad list, I guess it isn't easy cramming 15 to 20 years of arcade gaming goodness into just 10 games. Personally though I would say Street Fighter II (as in the Street Fighter II range of games rather than any specific version) would be a better fit than Street Fighter, I mean it was THE game of the era that everyone wanted, I remember almost forking out £70 for it on my Super NES.

    I'd have also suggested Bubble Bobble, Metal Slug, King Of Fighters and Gauntlet to name a few.


  97. Andrew Halliwell

    Ah, paperboy... I was just about to mention that.

    But instead... I'll throw elevator action into the ring.

    Oh, and bionic commando! I loved that game!

  98. Yamas

    Shoryureppa and Shinryuken, not that early

    About Street Fighter, Shoryureppa and Shinryuken came later, after SF2 , I believe with the Alpha series, about a decade later from realese of SF (1986)

  99. Anonymous Coward

    Atari RoadBlasters, historical milestone IMO

    Despite its relative lack of popularity among teen males at the time, I'd put Atari RoadBlasters as being one of the most historically important video games, because, as far as I could tell in the 1980s:

    1. It was one of the first 3D shoot-em-up driving games, maybe even *the* first? (it was the first one I had encountered, anyway)

    2. It seemed very technologically advanced, for its era. When I first saw it in the arcades, I was like, "HOW do they DO that?"

    3. RoadBlasters had a strange appeal to young women, unlike most other video games of that era. This is anecdotal, just based on what I saw at the three large arcades I spent a lot of time in back in the 1980s. As far as driving/racing games, the boys seemed to totally get immersed in Pole Position (there were always a whole gaggle of boys congregated around the Pole Positions machines), whereas the girls preferred to play RoadBlasters but quickly became bored with Pole Position (nothing to shoot/destroy in Pole Position).

    When boys did try RoadBlasters they would give up (maybe it was too easy for them) after just a couple of levels. This seems counterintuitive since boys are supposed to 'like' to destroy things whereas girls aren't, but what I observed in those arcades didn't match the old stereotypes.

    I noticed that, for some reason, those males never "got" the concept that they had to have accurate shooting - can't just hold down the "fire" button constantly because you get dinged for missed shots. I even saw some of 'em trying to shoot the fuel globes - puh-lease! *Collect* the fuel, don't shoot the fuel... duh. Maybe the girls paid more attention to such details, whereas the guys just wanted to blast on through? I dunno.

    The pre-bloatware era... or not:

    Seems to me (a non-expert) that Atari packed a lot of gameplay into that 540 K RoadBlasters ROM which is incredibly small by modern standards, although I guess that was quite *huge* back then, compared to the majority of other games in that era. For comparison, just looking through my old ROM files here, Paperboy ROM is 276K, Rampage is 252K, SeaWolf a mere 4K, ZooKeeper 80K, Asteroids Deluxe 12K, and the graphically simplistic Night Driver a tiny 4K.

    Still, speaking from a non-programmer "just a user" point of view, one wonders if modern software developers could squeeze a comparable amount of minutes/hours' gameplay (depending on one's skill level) into such a small ROM.

    Yeah, RoadBlasters' first dozen or so levels are "too easy" but it gets more challenging eventually... the darn thing has 50 levels.

    As to gameplay, well, admittedly, the game was mostly an exercise in player memory, since most hazards are in the same place every time you repeat a particular track.

    Not surprising that Atari had to re-use elements in tracks, given the limited hardware they had available back then. Presumably state-of-the-art in its day, though.

    I played it a *lot* in the arcades, in fact it was one of only two games that held my interest for more than about a minute - the other was Rampage, although Rampage is kind of nauseating (in a sickly amusing kind of way) when the humans get eaten and that kind of turned me off of Rampage.

    My guess as to why younger male teens and male pre-teens didn't play RoadBlasters as much as other driving games like Pole Position, is because they hadn't got their real-life driver's license yet and thus they hadn't yet had to deal with real-life aggressive drivers' road-rage etc. So they had no particular incentive to be attracted to a driving game where you get to destroy other vehicles with glee :) and score massive points for nuclear strikes after you pick up a nuke special weapon and vaporize everything (even the trees) clear up to the horizon and beyond - with rather satisfying visual and sound effects, despite the "simple" old graphics.

    It's just "cartoon"-style violence - no visible gore, not even any humans - just vehicles and machines... well, not counting the motorcycles, anyway.

    As an *outlet*, the thing about RoadBlasters is that it turns the tables on aggressive drivers, and the game lets the player basically assume the role of aggressive driver for a change, and (after acquiring suitable "special weapons") annihilate ALL other cars - even the innocent harmless orange drone cars. As opposed to being the nice polite safe "defensive driver" that real-life (and employers and auto-insurance companies) favor.

    The latter thing might help explain the game's appeal to women, who (back in the bad old 1980s) had mostly been brought up to always be "nice" (ha!) and not publicly show anger or aggression - RoadBlasters let them throw all that bullshit out the window and just destroy almost everything in sight. :) Like that old saying about the formerly "oppressed" becoming total tyrants when they finally get a little power of their own... or not.

    Later, for old times' sake after most of the real cabinet RoadBlasters machines had disappeared, I bought a RoadBlasters PlayStation incarnation and it sucked - even with a steering wheel the PlayStation controls were horrible.

    The only way I've found to approximate the RoadBlasters arcade cabinet experience, is via emulation, although I wonder about a couple of odd 'subliminal'-type images I happened upon after dozens of hours of viewing slow frame-rate stuff on an antique Mac running MacMAME back in the 1990s... maybe the ROM had been altered or something, I dunno how that stuff works.

    A final thought:

    The last actual cabinet RoadBlasters I saw, about 10 years ago, was sad indeed - the pedal was messed up, various other switches broken, and it would not allow the player to go fast enough to complete a track. If someone who had never played a fully-functional cabinet RoadBlasters before, were to play such a game (or the PlayStation version, for that matter), they'd probably think, "What a pile of crap this game is" but that would be inaccurate.

    On the correct hardware and when all the switches are working right, IMO RoadBlasters is a remarkable example of early 3D programming. This is why we need *properly* functioning emulators and yes, that other 'bad' word (ROMs) - so that future generations can see how things operated in their prime, not in some broken-down non-restored machine or poorly-implemented home-console "classic collection" version.


    Anon because (a) a lady should never reveal her age ;) and (b) sometimes people froth at the mouth at the mere mention of emulators and ROMS and stuff like that :)

  100. Yamas

    Shoryureppa, Shinryuken not that early

    About Street Fighter, Shoryureppa and Shinryuken came later, after SF2 , I believe with the Alpha series, about a decade later from realese of SF (1986)

  101. StooMonster


    That you used a screenshot of Sinclair Spectrum version of Defender rather than a screenshot of the arcade game itself.

    I would've also included Gradius/Nemesis and/or it's sequel Salamander.

  102. Mark York 3 Silver badge

    Still Playin, Not Paying

    Most of the above & a few oddities out of my collection of MAME ROMS, still get played on a regular basis (Daily commute, sat on the white throne or down the pub if it's quiet) on my PDA. Time to bring out one of the spares methinks as the joystick is just about knackered on my Tapwave Zodiac

    PacLand, Battle Zone, GnG, Moon Cresta, Frogger, Mr Do!, Crazy\Donkey Kong & One that nobody else has mentioned & that I am fairly addicted to is BagMan.

    Space Invader icon nuff said!!

    1. Inachu

      MAME! lol

      It was from MAME that I learned that the first rendition of or the idea of WORLD OF WARCRAFT was in 1984. I found the rom called ASH THE LIGHTBRINGER and the japanese coin op game has all the names from WOW.

  103. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I also loved...

    astro blaster, berzerk, firefox and astron belt (these last two were laserdisc ala dragons lair).

    1. Inachu

      AHH!!! GOOD ONES! BUT!

      My alternate favorite when suffering from pacman burnout is GORF!

      Love that game!

  104. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD


    Yeah, this takes me back to the good old days if and when you wanted to pwn someone you'd go down to the arcade and go 1v1 on one of those 'fighter' games.

    Now most of the good games are now on the PC and there appears to be (locally at least) no great new arcade innovation.

  105. Arthur Daley

    WHAT no RoboCop

    You wanna play all these games again? Fire up M.A.M.E and go rom hunting.

    ahh the old 2p trick lol im bloody surprised you knew this ;)

  106. Long Fei
    Thumb Up

    Out Run

    Out Run was more than just choosing your music, it was the first game that let you choose the 'route' so having multiple courses that you had to master.

    I pumped a heckofalot of money into that game.

    Also: Ghosts and Goblins!

  107. Shane Orahilly

    Help Help! I'm being regressed!

    Ah, the golden age of the fairground arcade! Getting your coppers from the Penny Falls changed into "silver" by a surly, unkept travelling fellow, and talking your "A game" over anyone who was already occupying your cockpit, hoping to put them off and run them out of change so you could have a go, jumpers for goalposts, isn't it? Wasn't it? Marvellous!

    My personal list of honorable omissions would have to be:

    Golden Axe - 3 choices of character, 3 friends shoulder-to-shoulder , hacking and slashing the day away.

    Afterburner - The full-on pitching rolling cockpit version sounded like an urban myth to we boys from the farming shires, but Lo! A big adventure to London and the Trocadero centre made legend... legendary.

    Gauntlet - WIZARD NEEDS FOOD BADLY. I think that phrase left a subconscious thread in my mind which led to me being overweight and playing mages in D&D all too often in my youth.

    Bubble Bobble - Come on, who among you would have thought "Hey! Let's make a game where you kill the bad guys by trapping them in bubbles and popping them!". Not I, but I'm glad someone did.

    Double Dragon - Where the crouching roundhouse kick was King.

    And finally, Moonwalker - Absurdly good fun, utterly insane, and a goldmine for the arcade owners.

    +5 internets for an Iain M. Banks reference, aaaaand I'm done.

    1. Danny 14
      Thumb Up


      "elf shot the food" followed by "gary you prick I needed that."

  108. Lord Lien

    No TMNT..

    .. no list would be complete with out the 4 player TMNT.

  109. Steve Roper

    I remember most of those

    But who remembers these ones, which really soaked up my pocket money:

    Qix (my favourite, because while I sucked at most of the other games compared to the other kids I could seriously kick arse on this one!)

    Spy Hunter

    Night Driver



    Slap Fight (I loved it when you hit the bonus and had that huge fat ship filling the entire screen with fire)

    Rygar (loved the thrown shield-on-a-chain to mow down your opponents)

    I also played Double Dragon, Gauntlet, Space Harrier and Afterburner as mentioned by a few people here.

  110. mky

    Mighty fine list

    In the end though, there is no way that Asteroids and Missile Command are not on it. My all time favorite arcade game was Tempest. That may be because I could set high score on it with a single quarter, back in the day.

  111. Danny 14


    Missile command



    Operation wolf

    3 count bout

    I can still whistle the theme tunes for outrun, and the operation wolf cutscenes. The real trick was learning how to open the circular key lock with a bic pen (yellow bic heated up slightly with a lighter). We never stole the money, it went back in (plus a chunk of our own) it merely lasted longer....

  112. Arnie


    After the king of kong was released I thought I'd have a crack at pac-man. Managed to clock 2mill before my patience ran out. still not bad considering the max high score is some 3.3mil. Won't be doing it again though.

  113. Jim 59


    I recall standing in the common room at Sunderland Polytechnic about 1987, not actually playing "Afterburner", but just gawping at the graphics, staggered by how *amazing* they were. That building has since been demolished, including my room on the 5th floor.

  114. CD001

    Holy hell

    With the exception of Time Crisis - I've played every single one of those games at the arcade... even owned some of them on consoles like the MegaDrive (maybe even the Master System - can't remember).

    That's it - pipe and slippers time; nostalgia means I'm getting old :)

  115. UkForest

    Completed with just 10p

    I can just remember those Saturday mornings after Swimming... Searching for 10p's some unluckly fools had left in their lockers, only for me and a friend to spend them wisely on Golden Axe.

    That one special morning where we completed it with only one 10pence each... Wow.

    </wipes a tear>

  116. occasional post

    One more and some help please! :)

    Being 18 in 1980 I remember and enjoyed so many of the games listed in the article and in the commnets above, but two more come to mind:

    - Circus Charlie (look - I liked it!) :)

    - Please help with this one - I used to play it around 1981/2 time. It consisted of a screen with 6 columns on either side. Bombs in the shape of a X I think, dropped from a mothership and made their way into on of the columns. When the columns were full of Xs, one would drop and explode - sending out a bomb blast either side. The trick was to shhoty the bombs from the cilumns so that they never fell - there was a knack to it which meant you could play for ages if you got it right. But I can't rememeber what it was called! :(

    1. ThomH

      Its not exactly the game

      But it sounds like it may have been the inspiration for Acornsoft's Alien Dropout ( — not sure if that's a helpful clue?

  117. Bigbadbod
    Thumb Up

    Anybody remember?

    Hows about Prehistoric Isle?

    Also a game with where you controled a monkey who could spit fireballls, think it was called Loki.

    New Zealand Story was cool and I spent a fortune playing 'World Cup', think it was by Namco and you controlled the players with a roller ball, (blisters ahoy!).

    1. ThomH


      It was Toki! Also pretty much the only decent platform game for the Atari Lynx.

  118. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. David Paul Morgan

      what was the one...

      Colour vector graphics. Maybe by Atari. You had a yellow claw at the top of a ten sided well and you zapped critters climbing the sides.

      1. mky


        That'd be Tempest

        1. David Paul Morgan

          thank you

          I spent a lot of time and coins on that one 83 to 84?

  119. Chris007

    Track n Field (Hyper Olympic) and Hyper Sports

    As somebody who spent waaaayyyy to much time on the above games they are my favourite.

    Anybody remember seeing HFX on either of those games - that was myself and mate.

  120. Lloyd

    Wot No Gorf?

    The first arcade game with "speech"

  121. b 3

    NEMESIS! what about nemesis???

    wtf how can any sort of list like this be complied without NEMESIS!

    whadda you NUTS???

  122. Winkypop Silver badge

    Asteroids !!

    The heart-thumping deep bass explosions were great (in it's day)

    Xenu is not best pleased!

  123. John Sanders

    Come on people...

    The best arcade game was "Indiana Jones and the temple of Doom" from Atari, that still is my favourite arcade game of all times, that one was amazingly playable.

    Also comes to mind: Commando, Pengo, Traverse USA, Zaxxon, Enduro Racer, Pole Possition, Flying Shark, Operation Wolf, Final Fight, Double Dragon, Ikari Warrior...

    The reason I gought a PS1 was to play TC,and later boght a PS2 to play TC2/TC3, I'm angry that the bloody flat tv's do not allow the guncon to work.

    oh my god me and my best mate used to roam the arcades so many afternoons, we usually had a route and knew on which arcade you could play what game.

    OMG! Does anybody remember Break Thru?

  124. clean_state

    R-Type ?

    Where is R-Type ? You must have been hiding in a cave playing with dinosaur vertebrae not to have noticed the R-Type phenomenon. Clearly #1 on the list for me.

  125. Inachu


    Arcade games is what made me get into the IT field. My very first paycheck form my very first job I ran to the bank and cashed it in all in quaters only.

    My top favorite games at the time was Gyruss,Centipede,Defender,Joust,Pacman,Journey.

    I learned the pacman maps from a pro player and I was able to get to the 27th key which is way past the coca cola can levels.

    Cenetipede was easy just make a wall that has no holes in it so the bug goes straight down and you just stand still and fire away.

    Asteroids you stay on level 2 and just shoot the ufo and nothing else.

  126. mmm mmm

    I played

    All of them up until about Out Run which was about the age I left school and became "responsible". I too remember Dragon's Lair and remember being blown away by how good the graphics were. How much was that game, a pound or something? I remember it being prohibitively expensive though when everything else was ten pence, even 20 was expensive back then!

    Handheld incarnations of DL are a great idea and will want to buy one for my PSP when I've read a review or six.

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