Best Games Before the 1980's

These arcade games established the industry and early mechanics. From simple games like Pong and Breakout, to educational exploration of The Oregon Trail to our favorite imaginary playground: space.

List items

  • Tomohiro Nishikado created the video game industry. This might seem like gross hyperbole but a net profit of $450 million back then is absolutely unreal. Turning Breakout into a shooter was a great design choice as was the use of speed to build tension.

  • While ports do their best to replicate this game, Galaxian shines bright because of its synthesized sound effects heard directly from the arcade cabinet. Galaxian should also be remembered for its smart gradual difficulty curve and unique enemies in a transfixing alien space battle.

  • A dark black screen with a white triangle seems simple and it is but there's something to be said for approachability for a public learning what video games could do for the imagination. Add the ability to track high scores with initials and you can see why this title took to the stars.

  • A classic with indescribable impact. If video games were going to be a "thing," this type of game would of course been made. And while Ralph Baer and Magnovox were first, Atari's Allan Alcorn improved on the ping pong mechanics by adding a scoreboard and made the paddles move in a fidgety, quick manner that ensured skill played a role in victories.

  • The best game found in every American school library. Forever a classic - this game holds it high status due to its importance and effect on children. Just ignore the fact the game play was lackluster.

  • Objectively better than its progenitor, the addition of multiple balls made you reevaluate how video games could improve your attention and hand-eye coordination.

  • A simple, single-player spin-off of Pong which made you feel like you could always do better the next time - an early example of a game designed to suck you in to play more.

  • Designed by Tomohiro Nishikado, this arcade game was a glimmer of the multiplayer potential of video games. Gun Fight took the abstract competitiveness of Pong, added some cartoon cowboys, and primitive dual joystick shooting for a surprisingly fun early arcade experience.