Top 10 Video Games of the 1980s

Hey Dudes, in today’s article we will be looking at the top 10 video games from the 1980s. This will likely become a series in which we will do the top 10 video games from each decade.

At the beginning of the 1980’s, the video game industry was in the midst of its second major transformation. The early 1970’s saw the industry transition from university technical demos with no major audience to wildly popular arcades that brought video games to the masses. The trend in the late ’70’s toward a home console market would hit an incredible roadblock, and where most people expected gaming to move exclusively into living rooms by the mid-’80s, the console market had basically dissipated as sales shrunk 97% from 1983 to 1986. Widely credited with reviving the industry is Nintendo in 1986 and the trend toward home consoles would bounce back later in the decade, bolstered by a plumber in red overalls.

10. Tetris


Really, this one wins on its nostalgia. It’s a brilliant game. Nintendo made one of the best moves in the history of the gaming industry by pairing the 1989 release of the Gameboy with this spectacular puzzler. Tetris was a perfect fit for play on the go – tons of people got hooked on this game 20 years ago. Even to this day, Tetris endures. It was one of the greatest video games ever made when it first appeared back in the ’80s, and it retains that status to this day. On top of this Tetris has inspired another modern-day hit in Candy Crush


9. Mega Man 2

By no means the fanciest or most innovative title in this top 10 (or even within the Mega Man Classic franchise), the second game starring the eponymous boy robot is nevertheless the one that warrants inclusion in the Top 50, simply because its such a perfectly formed Japanese gem. Even today the ridiculously simple visuals and audio somehow retain an iconic feel, while the platform-based action continues to hook mobile gamers. The Mega Man character, meanwhile, lives on a newer generation of titles and as Capcoms official mascot.


8. Ms. Pac-Man


Having transformed expectations about how the demographic coin-op games could attract with their US launch of Namco’s Pac-Man, Midway decided to target the female gaming market a little more blatantly with this sequel, creating one of the most popular arcade games of all time in the process. Initially released without permission from Namco, Ms. Pac-Man featured near-identical gameplay to its predecessor but adds longevity via the inclusion of five mazes and more random ghost behaviours, and considerable charm via pastel colour schemes and suitably themed cut-scenes.


7. Contra

Contra, Gryzor, Probotector call it what you like. The fact remains that Konami’s coin-op and numerous home computer and console spin-offs set the bar for run-and-gun gaming in the late 80s, not least due to a co-operative two-player mode, daring use of two different game styles (sideways scrolling and third-person perspective), and blatant appropriation of the gung-ho themes explored in 1980s action movies like Rambo, Aliens, and Predator. Contra remains one of the most fondly remembered action games of the era by old-school gamers.


6. Final Fantasy

Nobody does epic role-playing quite like the Japanese, and no Japanese company does it quite like Square Enix. So named because designer Hironobu Sakaguchi planned to retire after its completion, Final Fantasy was the game that brought Square back from the brink, while simultaneously established the NES system as the must-have system for role-playing fans. In truth the game lacked much in the way of innovation, but Hironobus knack for storytelling elevated the game to another plane altogether and kickstarted a franchise that now spans multiple sequels (with more than 80 million games sold to date), numerous printed spin-offs, and even two full-length CG animated movies.


5. Duck Hunt

What’s not to love with this game? It’s a basic light gun game with just the right amount of everything to make it sweet. You get ducks, dog rustles up ducks, and you shoot them. You don’t need anything flashy for this as it’s basic premise is what actually gets you involved. The later levels with quicker ducks can drive you nutty with the limits of misses that you get. You can have a slower but easier time with one duck or up the challenge with two

4. Galaga

Galaga was a viral hit when it burst into arcades back in 1981. The sequel to 1979’s Galaxian, Galaga, which also spawned several sequels of its own, is an intense space shooter. Ported to a bounty of consoles, from the Atari 7800 to Microsoft’s Xbox One, it is likely due to some act of divine intervention if you have yet to play this game. From the so-called Golden Age of Arcade Games, Galaga still enjoys widespread popularity today amongst vintage, rebuilt, and replica coin-operated machines. Being almost four decades old, though, the game definitely shows its age graphically and aurally, but the gameplay never disappoints.



3. Donkey Kong

The fact that it pretty much invented the single-screen platform genre (while simultaneously helping Nintendo to break the American market) is reason enough to justify a top three rating for Donkey Kong. But what really seals the deal is that it still remains one the most recognised and fondly remembered coin-ops of the day. Starring the titular ape and his nemesis Jumpman, later to be renamed, Mario. Talented guy. We think he’ll go far.


2. Super Mario Bros.

The original Super Mario Bros. may not have a ton of power-ups or enemies or settings, and its 32 stages are really quite brief in comparison to its successors and you can easily complete the game without warps in less than an hour. But as a game created for the express purpose of squeezing maximum performance out of an extremely limited amount of storage space, nothing in Super Mario Bros. feels pointless. Every block, every enemy, every power-up has a purpose. Not every landmark video game holds up after three decades, but Super Mario Bros. kicked off this franchise’s habit of being an exception to so many rules.


1. The Legend of Zelda

Sure its quaint, even primitive by todays standards, but The Legend Of Zelda was never about the sensory experience. However, The Legend of Zelda has inspired nearly every single player, Open-world, RPG that there is. It was in a class of its own. Indeed it is these qualities that led to both Japanese and American audiences embracing Links debut adventure so readily, spawning a multi-million selling franchise (52 million and counting) and helping to cement Nintendos reputation as the home of the role-playing game.

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