Button Mash

The Best '80s Arcade Games 

Video Games Lists
Updated May 20, 2020 28.4k votes 2.6k voters 109.3k views 78 items

List Rules Vote up the best 80s arcade games that you spent all your coins and tokens on.

Nothing beats a little nostalgia, and ranking the best 80s arcade games is a great way to bring back such fond memories. It may also remind us how many quarters and tokens we've lost trying to beat a game. Nonetheless, some of the greatest arcade games to date came out in the 1980s and, whether you were around at the time or not, we've all come to know and love these classic games. From the top beat 'em up arcade games to the best shooters, you really can't beat the arcades of the 80s.

When it comes to the best and most popular arcade games of the 80s, we're talking the original Ms. Pac Man, Street Fighter, and Star Wars games here—all of which have been remade and reimagined for a range of proceeding game systems. For many, the side-scrolling days of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were simply the greatest, and the same could be said for so many other awesome games from the 80s. In short, many of these classics hit during the golden age of arcade games (though the timeline is often disputed) and they've become mainstays in gaming history. But which single game should top the list?

Check out the top 80s arcade games below and vote up the ones you think were the most fun to play. You can also vote games down the list, and add any classics that are missing.

list ordered by
1
Galaga is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games
Released: 1981 (Namco)

Genres (Video game): Shoot 'em up, Action game, Space combat, Science Fiction

Galaga is a fixed shooter arcade game developed and published by Namco in Japan and published by Midway in North America in 1981. It is the sequel to Galaxian, released in 1979. The gameplay of ...more

More Galaga 

#1 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #24 of 263 The Best Classic Video Gameslisted on List of Nintendo Wii Virtual Console Games

2
Pac-Man is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games
Released: 1980 (Namco)

Genres (Video game): Maze

Pac-Man is an arcade game developed by Namco and first released in Japan on May 22, 1980. It was licensed for distribution in the United States by Midway and released in October 1980. Immensely ...more

More Pac-Man 

#3 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #11 of 263 The Best Classic Video Gameslisted on Nintendo Game Boy Advance Games

3
Ms. Pac-Man is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games
Released: 1982 (Midway Games)

Genres (Video game): Action game, Maze

Ms. Pac-Man is an arcade video game from the Golden Age. It was produced by Illinois-based Midway Manufacturing corporation, the North American publisher of Pac-Man. Ms. Pac-Man was released in ...more

More Ms. Pac-Man 

#5 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #48 of 263 The Best Classic Video Gameslisted on All Super Nintendo Games: List of SNES Console Games

4
Donkey Kong is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games
Released: 1981 (Nintendo)

Genres (Video game): Platform game

Donkey Kong is an arcade game released by Nintendo in 1981. It is an early example of the platform game genre, as the gameplay focuses on maneuvering the main character across a series of ...more

More Donkey Kong 

Donkey Kong Fan Theories #2 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Gameslisted on Nintendo Game Boy Advance Games

5
Space Invaders is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games
StefanoTommasi added Released: 1978 (Taito Corporation)

Genres (Video game): Shooter game, Shoot 'em up, Action game, Space combat

Space Invaders is an arcade video game developed by Tomohiro Nishikado and released in 1978. It was originally manufactured and sold by Taito in Japan, and was later licensed for production in ...more

More Space Invaders 

'Space Invaders' Was So Popular, A 12-Year-Old Held Up A Bank For Coins #4 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Gameslisted on Nintendo Game Boy Advance Games

6
Frogger is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games
Released: 1981 (Konami)

Genres (Video game): Action game

Frogger is a 1981 arcade game developed by Konami, and licensed for North American distribution by Sega-Gremlin. It is regarded as a classic from the golden age of video arcade games, noted for ...more
7
1942 is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games
Released: 1984 (Capcom)

Genres (Video game): Shoot 'em up, Action game, Scrolling shooter

1942 is a vertically scrolling shoot 'em up made by Capcom that was released for the arcade in 1984. It was the first game in the 19XX series. It was followed by 1943: The Battle of Midway. 1942 ...more

More 1942 

#10 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #54 of 793 Every Single NES Game, Ranked From Best to Worst #4 of 91 The Best Horizontal & Side Scrolling Shooter Games Ever

8
Tetris is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games

Genres (Video game): Puzzle game, Strategy video game

Tetris is a Soviet tile-matching puzzle video game originally designed and programmed by Alexey Pajitnov. It was released on June 6, 1984, while he was working for the Dorodnicyn Computing ...more

More Tetris 

#57 of 175 The Best Super Nintendo (SNES) Games #413 of 1,588 The 100+ Best Video Games of All Time, Ranked by Fans #23 of 182 The Best Video Game Franchises of All Time

9
Dragon's Lair is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games

Genres (Video game): Puzzle game, Interactive movie, Action game

Dragon's Lair is a laserdisc video game published by Cinematronics in 1983 as the first game in the Dragon's Lair series. In the game, the protagonist Dirk the Daring is a knight attempting to ...more

More Dragon's Lair 

#33 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #23 of 66 Hardest Video Games of All Timelisted on All Super Nintendo Games: List of SNES Console Games

10
Street Fighter is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games
Released: 1987 (Capcom)

Genres (Video game): Action game, Fighting game

Street Fighter is a 1987 arcade game developed by Capcom. It is the first competitive fighting game produced by the company and the inaugural game in the Street Fighter series. While it did not ...more

More Street Fighter 

#14 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #204 of 1,588 The 100+ Best Video Games of All Time, Ranked by Fanslisted on List of Nintendo Wii Virtual Console Games

11
Dig Dug is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games
Released: 1982 (Namco)

Genres (Video game): Action game

Dig Dug is an arcade game developed and published by Namco in Japan in 1982. It runs on Namco Galaga hardware, and was later published outside of Japan by Atari, Inc.. A popular game based on a ...more

More Dig Dug 

#6 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #44 of 263 The Best Classic Video Gameslisted on Game Boy Video Games: List of Game Boy Console Games

12
Pole Position is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games
Released: 1982 (Namco)

Genres (Video game): Simulation video game, Sports game, Racing video game

Pole Position is an arcade racing video game which was released by Namco in 1982 and licensed to Atari, Inc. for US manufacture and distribution, running on the Namco Pole Position arcade system ...more

More Pole Position 

#20 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #94 of 263 The Best Classic Video Games #676 of 1,588 The 100+ Best Video Games of All Time, Ranked by Fans

13
Defender is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games
Released: 1980 (WMS Industries Inc.)

Genres (Video game): Shoot 'em up

Defender is an arcade video game developed and released by Williams Electronics in February 1981. A shooting game featuring two-dimensional graphics, the game is set on a fictional planet where ...more

More Defender 

#11 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #105 of 263 The Best Classic Video Gameslisted on Nintendo Game Boy Advance Games

14
Super Mario Bros. is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games
Released: 1985 (Systems Research & Development Co.)

Genres (Video game): Platform game, Action game, Adventure

Super Mario Bros. is a 1985 platform video game internally developed by Nintendo R&D4 and published by Nintendo as a pseudo-sequel to the 1983 game Mario Bros. It was originally released in ...more

More Super Mario Bros. 

The Most Elaborate and Weirdly Plausible Super Mario Fan Theories #61 of 1,588 The 100+ Best Video Games of All Time, Ranked by Fanslisted on Nintendo Game Boy Advance Games

15
Tron is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games
Released: 1982 (Midway Games)

Genres (Video game): Action game

Tron is a coin-operated arcade video game manufactured and distributed by Bally Midway in 1982. It is based on the Walt Disney Productions motion picture Tron released in the same year. The game ...more

More Tron 

#22 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #147 of 263 The Best Classic Video Games #2 of 17 The Coolest Arcade Game Cabinet Art Ever!

16
Gauntlet is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games
Released: 1985 (Atari Games)

Genres (Video game): Action game, Run and gun, Maze, Hack and slash

Gauntlet is a fantasy-themed hack and slash 1985 arcade game by Atari Games. Released in October 1985, Atari ultimately sold a total of 7,848 Gauntlet video game arcade cabinets. It is noted as ...more

More Gauntlet 

#7 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #4 of 17 The Coolest Arcade Game Cabinet Art Ever!listed on Nintendo Game Boy Advance Games

17
Centipede is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games
Released: 1980 (Atari)

Genres (Video game): Shoot 'em up

Centipede is a vertically oriented shoot 'em up arcade game produced by Atari, Inc. in 1981. The game was designed by Ed Logg and Dona Bailey. The player defends against centipedes, spiders, ...more

More Centipede 

#12 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #371 of 1,588 The 100+ Best Video Games of All Time, Ranked by Fanslisted on Game Boy Video Games: List of Game Boy Console Games

18
Battlezone is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games
Released: 1980 (Atari)

Genres (Video game): Simulation video game, Turn-based tactics, Vehicular combat game

Battlezone is an arcade game from Atari released in November 1980. It displays a wireframe view on a horizontal black and white vector monitor. Due to its novel gameplay and look, this game was ...more

More Battlezone 

#42 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #252 of 263 The Best Classic Video Games #27 of 35 The Best Tank Simulator Games of All Time, Ranked

19
Punch-Out!! is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games
Released: 1984 (Nintendo)

Genres (Video game): Sports game

Punch-Out!! is a boxing arcade game by Nintendo, released in Japan in 1983 and worldwide in 1984. It was the first in a series of successful Punch-Out!! games that produced an arcade sequel ...more

More Punch-Out!! 

#18 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #389 of 1,588 The 100+ Best Video Games of All Time, Ranked by Fanslisted on List of Nintendo Wii Virtual Console Games

20
Joust is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games
Released: 1982 (WMS Industries Inc.)

Genres (Video game): Platform game, Action game

Joust is an arcade game developed by Williams Electronics and released in 1982. It is a platform game that features two-dimensional graphics. The player uses a button and joystick to control a ...more

More Joust 

#16 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #135 of 263 The Best Classic Video Games #194 of 793 Every Single NES Game, Ranked From Best to Worst

21
Q*bert is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games
Released: 1982 (Atari)

Genres (Video game): Isometric projection, Puzzle game, Platform game, Action game

Q*bert is an arcade video game developed and published by Gottlieb in 1982. It is a 2D action game with puzzle elements that uses "isometric" graphics to create a pseudo-3D effect, and ...more

More Q*bert 

#23 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #82 of 263 The Best Classic Video Gameslisted on Game Boy Video Games: List of Game Boy Console Games

22
Bubble Bobble is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games
Released: 1986 (Taito Corporation)

Genres (Video game): Puzzle game, Platform game, Action game

Bubble Bobble is an arcade game by Taito, first released in 1986 and later ported to numerous home computers and game consoles. The game, starring the twin Bubble Dragons Bub and Bob, is an ...more

More Bubble Bobble 

#30 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #95 of 263 The Best Classic Video Gameslisted on Game Boy Video Games: List of Game Boy Console Games

23
out run is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games
2Nice added

Genres (Video game): Driving

24
Double Dragon is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games
Released: 1987 (Technōs Japan)

Genres (Video game): Beat 'em up, Side-scrolling

Double Dragon is a 1987 beat 'em up video game developed by Technōs Japan and distributed in North America and Europe by Taito. The game is a spiritual and technological successor to Technos' ...more

More Double Dragon 

#15 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #153 of 1,588 The 100+ Best Video Games of All Time, Ranked by Fanslisted on Sega Genesis Games: The Complete List of Games on Genesis

25
Berzerk is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best '80s Arcade Games
Helmut Vinaccia added Released: 1980 (Stern)

Genres (Video game): Shooter game, Shoot 'em up, Action game, Run and gun

Berzerk is a multi-directional shooter video arcade game, released in 1980 by Stern Electronics of Chicago.

More Berzerk 

#46 of 130 The Best Classic Arcade Games #14 of 67 The Best Atari 5200 Games #32 of 58 The Best Arcade Shooter Games Ever, Ranked