The 10 BEST Arcade Games of 1980 - jadeusgames.com

The 10 BEST Arcade Games of 1980

JohnRiggs
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Arcade games were at a turning pointing in 1980. Space Invaders clones were getting stale and companies were looking for the next big thing to take the world by storm. Little did they know 1980 would be birth to one of the most iconic video game characters and series of all time.

Here’s a look at some of the best games you would find yourself playing in dingy, smoke-filled arcades back in 1980.

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45 Comments

  1. I enjoyed Defender more once all the people were dead or taken, and it threw you into outer space for a few levels until you arrived at a new planet to defend.

  2. King and Balloon looks similar to Donkey Kong 3.

  3. Great Stuff John! My friend worked in an arcade at a mall in South Jersey from 82 – 84. I remember some of these games and had forgotten about some of the others. I loved Bezerk and Phoenix. There was another game that was 4 games in one called Gorf. It had a cool shaped joystick. I loved that game!!

  4. My favorite game of 1980 was battlezone.

  5. Defender was an absolute fave of mine, and boy I got good. Sign of a misspent youth 🙂 That said, no Missile Command, that surprised me, another corker of a game.

  6. I was born in 1980 so among the many great things of that year there was also me 🤣 I've played Wizard of wor on one of those Midway arcade classics collections on PS2. I was amazed it talked!

  7. Wizard of War is very similar to Dark Cavern.

  8. I would go to the bowling alley with my dad when he had league play, he would give me 2 dollars for the night. Phoenix and Defender were my favs. I could hang there the whole time he bowled with just those 2 dollars. 80's was a great time to be a teenager…

  9. I had a copy of Winner's Book of Video Games Paperback by Craig Kubey. So helpful in figuring out how to beat those classic games. Or more accurately, lose slower.
    Love Defender!

  10. Never heard of Crazy Balloon, King and Balloon, or Radar Scope.

  11. Phoenix was probably my all time favorite space shooter. I could usually get about 45 minutes to an hour out a quarter.

  12. I loved Wizard of Wor but I wasn't very good at it.

  13. Arcades were great. You could have a lot of fun for $10.00!

  14. Hey wait, remember Tron, it was mini game after mini game.

  15. C'mon along with the pinball, you played them all, we all did

  16. Love the nostalgia. Keep it up. Maybe I'm just different. I did play most of these in 1980 but I was addicted to to Moon Cresta for some reason and played it in the entry to my local K-mart for hours.

  17. Hmm, I was an arcade junkie, and I NEVER even saw either of those "Balloon" games…weird.

  18. I liked Armor Attack and Omega race, though the latter was 81, but they were fairly rare, especially AA. Space Fury, also 81, was a pretty cool twist on asteroids with a Cyclops alien giving you grief if you played badly, which I often did.

  19. Um yeh, I told YouTube that I don't want any of the metal jesus channels in my feed. Disliked and moving on.

  20. Wow! Great content, John! Really brings me back to the early 80’s when me and my buds were hitting the arcades, playing games and trying to pick up chicks lol. Loved the pac man games and Galaga! The latter of which I was the high score holder at the local pizza shop for like a whole summer! Still gaming today!

  21. Berserk was great but I HATED Defender. Too many buttons. My cousin could fly through that game though.

  22. I spent untold quarters on Centipede, Phoenix and Defender. It's amazing, the sounds of these games take me back even more than the images.

  23. 79 / 80 / 81 were the golden years of arcade gaming, IMO. That's where things really moved on. Games got more complex, more inventive, and above all, they got fast. And a lot of those games still hold up today. My personal favourite has to be Defender, despite having a massive hardon for the Atari vector games. Intensely fast, incredibly hard, and the sound design was something else entirely. It pushed the limits so far, there was nothing as fast, or as hard, or as good to watch your mates get their arses kicked by whilst you were waiting your turn, as Defender. A hardcore coin muncher.

    I'd have to take a minor gripe at your description of things like Radar Scope and Phoenix as "Space Invaders" clones, though – they had way more in common with Galaxian than Invaders (and Galaxian itself was a huge step forwards from Invaders).

  24. Whenever there happened to be a Defender game, you know I was there when you saw "JIM" occupying the entire top 10 high scores. Loved Stargate even more, even with having more controls than a Boeing 747.

  25. I played Pleiades and Time Pilot back then. Also Frogger. I miss those games.

  26. I thought there was ONLY 10 games in 1980 🙂

  27. I loved Defender bu it was horribly difficult to advance past two or three waves.

  28. Does anyone remember space firebird, tank commander?

  29. Wizard of Wor did always seem to be in the darker arcades or the smokiest area of the pool halls.

  30. Moon Cresta was my game. I was a regular high score holder on that one at Just Fun in the old Orange Plaza mall in Middletown, NY

  31. I'd switch out Phoenix and Radar Scope for Battlezone and Missile Command, personally.

  32. Dude! You're from Yakima? I'm from Hermiston.

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