Check Out These Popular Arcade Games of the 80s

If you grew up in the 1980s, you recognize the allure of a dark arcade with its bright lights and constant beeping sound. There was nothing more enjoyable than spending your evenings grinding away at an arcade machine. Many arcade games in the 1980s had simplistic gameplay but were entertaining.

Gamers used to enjoy playing arcade machines until the growth of modern gaming PCs and modern console players. Arcades have released many of the most famous games. Listed are the popular arcade games that will make you experience the nostalgia of playing the classic 80s games.


Check Out These Popular Arcade Games of the 80s

Street Fighter 

Capcom released Street Fighter in 1987 as an arcade game. It is the developer's first action game and the first in the Street Fighter franchise. This Japanese video game is one of the highest-grossing video games of all time, with cumulative sales of 46 million units worldwide. 

Check Out These Popular Arcade Games of the 80s
Image Source: Sarah Tew/CNET

The player must compete in different sets of 1-on-1 matches against AI-controlled enemies.  Each game comprises a series of battles in which the participant must overcome his or her enemy in under 30 seconds. To beat their opponent and advance to the next battle, the player must win two games. 


There are also times that you have to compete with other real players. A second player can also enter a single-player game and challenge the other player to a game. Powerful hits can be dealt with using combos and well-timed attacks, so mastering these combos is crucial to winning the match. 

Pole Position

Released by Namco in 1982, the racing video game, Pole Position, was considered the most popular coin-operated game of 1983 and was widely regarded as one of the most popular video games of its time. It became the highest-grossing arcade game in '83 after selling over 21,000 consoles in the United States, equally $61 million. 

Check Out These Popular Arcade Games of the 80s
Image Source: 3d Warehouse

To qualify for an F1 race at the Fuji Racetrack, the player controls a Formula One race car and must complete a time trial lap in a certain amount of time, between 57 and 120 seconds. After qualifying, the player competes in a championship race against seven other CPU-controlled vehicles. 


Pole Place was available in two versions: an upright unit and an environmental/cockpit cabinet. Both models have two wheels and a gear shifter for higher and lower gears, but the environmental/cockpit cabinet has both an accelerator and a brake. In contrast, the upright version only has an accelerator pedal. 

Donkey Kong 

Donkey Kong is a Nintendo arcade game that debuted in 1981. The game focuses on maneuvering the main character around a set of stages while avoiding obstacles, making it an early example of the platform genre. The plot is small, but it is well-developed for the period: Mario (originally known as Jumpman) is charged with saving Pauline (formerly known as Lady) from a giant ape called Donkey Kong.

Check Out These Popular Arcade Games of the 80s
Image Source: Instructables

Donkey Kong was one of the first classic video games to incorporate the save-the-damsel-in-distress scenario, which served as a model for many other video games to follow. Shigeru Miyamoto, Donkey Kong's creator, said the game was influenced by Beauty and the Beast, Popeye, and King Kong. It's also the first game to feature Mario, the world's most popular video game character.

It quickly became one of the most successful arcade games of the time. Because of the game's widespread popularity, it was ported to various gaming systems, including the family computer, Apple II, Atari systems, and others. The game's popularity spawned a slew of sequels and spinoffs that were just as successful as the original.

Mario Bros. (1983)

Mario Bros. is a Nintendo arcade game released in North America and Japan on July 14, 1983. The game was also released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, and Atari 7800, as well as a wide variety of home computer systems, as part of the Arcade Classics Series. Coins, POW Blocks, and Warp Pipes were all added to this game.

Check Out These Popular Arcade Games of the 80s
Image Source: Polygon

In this game, Mario appears in his third video game. The game's plot revolves around Mario and Luigi working in the sewers in New York. Many waves of enemies attack them, and they must fight them to earn coins and their pay. Since it takes place in this setting, the game's canonicity is debatable.

Mario Bros. received widespread critical acclaim. Mario Bros. was one of IGN's Top 100 NES Games list. The NES edition sold over 1.63 million copies in Japan, while the Famicom Mini re-release has sold at least 90,000 copies. Mario Bros. was transported to many platforms due to its popularity, including Apple, Atari, and Amstrad CPC.


In 1984, Russian software engineer Alexey Pajitnov invented Tetris, a tile-matching video game. Gamers must clear lines by rotating tetrominoes, also known as differently formed pieces, falling into the playing field.

Check Out These Popular Arcade Games of the 80s
Image Source: Line 17QQ

The completed lines vanish, awarding the player points, and the player can then continue to fill in the voids. When the playing field is filled, the game is over. The higher the player's ranking, the longer they will postpone the inevitable.

In multiplayer games, gamers must outlast their competitors, and by clearing a large number of lines, players can inflict penalties on their opponents. Three-dimensional screens and a mechanism for reserving pieces are among the adaptations added to the game's theme.

Pac-Man (1980)

Pac-Man is a maze arcade game created by Namco and published in 1980. The four ghosts have "personalities," with Blinky pursuing Pac-Man directly, Pinky and Inky trying to position themselves in front of Pac-Man, usually by cornering him, and Clyde alternating between chasing and fleeing Pac-Man.

Check Out These Popular Arcade Games of the 80s
Image Source: Ultimate Classic Rock

As the player progresses, the game gets more difficult: the ghosts get faster, and the energizers' influence lasts less and less until the ghosts no longer turn blue and edible. Two ‘warp tubes’ are located on either side of the labyrinth, allowing Pac-Man and the ghosts to fly to the opposite side of the screen. 

The player progresses to the next level when all of the dots have been consumed. Pac-Man was a worldwide success that has left a long-lasting cultural and commercial legacy. The game is regarded as significant and popular, and it is widely considered one of the best video games of all time. 


Galaga is a Namco action shooter arcade game. The game was originally developed for the Namco Galaxian arcade board, and it became one of the most successful arcade games of the 1980s.

Check Out These Popular Arcade Games of the 80s
Image Source: DIY Daddy

A starfighter is used to play the game, which is located at the bottom of the screen. Every stage introduces new aliens who fire projectiles in a variety of formations and directions. The goal is to kill all aliens while remaining as far away from colliding missiles as possible.

Galaga has received critical acclaim and is one of the most successful arcade games of all time. It is widely regarded as a classic of the golden age of arcade video games and one of the best video games ever made. Critics praised its gameplay, creativity, addictive nature, and improvements over its predecessor.

Tron (1982)

Bally Midway's Tron is a nostalgic arcade game based on the Walt Disney film of the same name released that year. The game has four subgames that players must win and complete to accomplish the game's twelve levels.

Check Out These Popular Arcade Games of the 80s
Image Source: D23

The gamer assumes control of Tron and must select between four quadrants, each of which corresponds to a different sub-game. I/O Tower, MCP Cone, Light Cycles, and Combat Tanks are some of the subgames available. 

Each of these subgames has a specific gameplay mechanic, but they all require the player to gain a certain amount of points to progress to the next level.

Star Wars

Star Wars is a first-person shooter game with a rail system based on the iconic Star Wars franchise. Mike Hally developed it, and Atari launched it in arcades. 

Check Out These Popular Arcade Games of the 80s
Image Source: Arcade1Up

It was recognized as one of the best video games of all time and one of the most successful in 1983. Star Wars is also one of the first games to use 3D color visual effects to recreate the Death Star's attack from the Star Wars: A New Hope film.

From a first-person perspective, users played Luke Skywalker's role and pilots an X-wing fighter in Star Wars. Through killing or stopping the waves of attacks, the player must live for a long time. Each phase consists of three attacks to destroy the Death Star at the end of each.


Punch-Out! is a Nintendo boxing arcade game that was the first in the popular Punch-Out! series. 

Check Out These Popular Arcade Games of the 80s
Image Source: Nintendo World Report

The game revolves around the player controlling Little Mac, a green-haired boxer who must beat his enemies in the ring by boxing. To defeat the opponent boxer in this game, the player must time his punches, dodges, and blocks.

The adaptation, Super Punch-Out!, and a spinoff game, Arm Wrestling, are also in the series. The game is also available on the SNES.

The Bottom Line

Arcade games from the 1980s are a perfect way to relive those good memories. It can also serve as a reminder of how many quarters and tokens we've squandered when attempting to win a game. 

Regardless, some of the best arcade games of all time were published in the 1980s, and we've all come to know and enjoy these classic games.