Best Games of the Early to Mid 1980's

The video game crash hit the industry hard and the quality of the games dropped off significantly. But no matter - Super Mario Bros. and Tetris saved an otherwise devoid era to provide us with lifelong classics.

List items

  • You know why this game is at the top. Side-scrolling was an awesome phenomenon, the creatures/enemies ruled, and the music was iconic. SMB made us think of games as something we could sink hours into at home and opened the door for creating worlds. A classic that stands the test of time.

  • The greatest puzzle game ever created. Every time I play Tetris, I feel like I'm the best in Tetris player in the world. This game does that in its challenge, its easy entry point for the general public by using geometric shapes, and that same addictive rush that Space Invaders used to create tension when "the run" is nearly up.

  • Consider this spot shared with the original 4-person co-op dungeon crawler "Dandy" (a play on the abbreviation D&D from Dungeons and Dragons). Dandy served as the inspiration for Ed Loggs and Atari Games' "Gauntlet" and brought the game to the mass market. I imagine it must have been hard to find such a large cabinet but wow, the gameplay is so smooth while handling 4 simultaneous players. Gauntlet/Dandy are truly a remarkable technical and innovative feat.

  • Mario Bros. probably gets too much credit considering it now feels like a beta compared to its "super" successor. But there's still something to be said for the "wraparound" feature of this game where heading left meant you could end up on the right side of the screen. This kept the player from feeling trapped and made the 2D space feel larger and immersive.

  • Balloon Fight at 5 on this list while Joust is at 10 for my early 80's list shows how the quality of games dipped during the video game crash.

  • This twitchy and unfair thriller of a game made you feel like you were in the middle of a cinematic gun fight while driving a car. The game delivered on its sense of speed - to a fault - and had great detailed graphics that made you put up with a few more frustrating crashes than you should have.