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Games of the Decade - 1980's (and earlier)

Games of the Decade - 1980's

In many respects doing a games of the decades list is folly. But one particular issue comes to mind when looking at the 80's in particular, that is 1985-1995 feels like a more cohesive era than 1980-1990 does. As the the arrival of the NES in 1985 and Super Mario 64 in 1996 marked such large moments of change in the industry that forever and immediately changed the landscape.

Games from 1980 are virtually unrecognizable as being part of the same time period as stuff from 1989. Every year in the 80's felt like a huge technical leap almost akin to a whole console generation today as it's often easy to tell a 1987 release apart from a 1988 etc. Something that impacted Japanese games a lot as they often took more than a year to get localized into English.

The 80's was basically the beginning of gaming as we know it today and as a result it was very experimental. There were tons of really new games that felt like nothing you ever seen before (because well, you hadn't) and there were was an awful lot of dreck. Frankly few of the greats hold up.
The very basics of game design were pioneered here and were super noticeable as games transitioned from their original Arcade model to home console ownership and personal computers

I think perhaps what I miss most about that era was just how equal everything felt genre wise, Like they all had equivalent value and budget. Or perhaps just the feeling that I felt like they were all equal. A puzzle game and racing games and sports games could be big in a way they can't today.

and while games were less popular than they are today, they were perhaps more social in some respects than they are today. Given that much of the first half of the decade Arcade games dominated as the home experience on Atari was dramatically more expensive and lower quality, in some ways there were really wasn't much of a skill gap between players because people had constant access to them. Something that likely would not have lasted regardless, but Gamer culture was not nearly rigidly established as it is today. And while I'm sure it wasn't nearly what it seemed through rose colored glasses, it seemed more welcoming and egalitarian to people of all walks of life and skill levels. As everybody was brand new to it as games were new themselves

DISCLAIMERZ: Like with any of these lists, there's always gonna be stuff you missed, forgot or just didn't get to play. While I haven't finished everything in this list (nearly all of them tho and nothing less than 75%), these are all games I feel I've spent enough time with to at least feel they deserve placement on the list. One of my major shortcomings is lack of experience with the SEGA libraries as I never was a Sega Kid.

Oh and I am using United States release dates for most of these. While I think you make an argument for either Japanese or US dates, I am an American and it's easier to be consistent if I consider how they felt when they were playable here

Inspired by @liquiddragon's best of the 2010's list

Other lists from me in this series
1990's-Games of the Decade - 1990's (
2000's-Games of the Decade - 2000's (
2010's-Games of the Decade - 2010's (

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