Under the Neon Lights: Our Favorite Arcade Games From the ‘80s

The ’80s seem like a different lifetime ago. But it’s not just the hair and great music that we miss. It’s how we spent our time hanging out with friends playing our favorite games at the local arcade.

Children playing Space Invaders at the arcade circa 1980
Photo by Eugene Adebari / Shutterstock

Whether you loved Pac Man or Super Mario, all ‘80s kids have fond memories of passing our time under the neon lights. Ready to take a walk down memory lane? We’ve put together a list of our favorite arcade games from the ‘80s!

Namco’s Pac Man

Pac Man was hands-down the best game that came from the ‘80s. Released in Japan in 1980, the game became so popular that several spin-off games were made. There was Ms. Pac Man, Baby Pac Man, and Pac-Land to name a few.

The arcade game Pac Man / The screen of a Pac Man game
Photo by Jane Hobson, Shutterstock / Source: Shutterstock

But the cute ghost-gobbling character’s influence went well beyond the four walls of an arcade. Pac Man had its own television series and even a hit song, Pac Man Fever, sung by Buckner and Garcia. Talk about a cultural icon!

Nintendo’s Donkey Kong

Who could forget the giant barrel-throwing ape villain turned hero, Donkey Kong? Released in July 1981, Donkey Kong was actually one of the first games with a storyline that unfolds on the screen, and Nintendo’s first successful attempt at the North American market.

A Donkey Kong arcade game / The screen of a Donkey Kong arcade game
Source: YouTube / Pinterest

The game was widely successful and earned $180 million during its first year on the market. The popular game has over 30 spin-offs and sequels, with characters even appearing in the Mario Kart and Super Smash Bros. series.

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