The 15 Greatest Video Games of the 80s – Ranked! | Games
15. Maniac Mansion (1987, Lucasfilm games)
The 1980s were filled with wonderful adventure games – The Hobbit, King’s Quest, Leather Goddesses of Phobos – but the first point-and-click title designed by comic book genius Ron Gilbert using the SCUMM scripting language is the classic that came out of the gender ghetto. Filled with awesome B-movie jokes and snapshots, the game made brilliant use of its accessible and intuitive interface, while seamlessly integrating non-sequential cutscenes and puzzles. The beginning of a strange and special era.
14. Jet Set Willy (1984, Software projects)
Among the formative home computing platforms of the ’80s – like Lode Runner, Chuckie Egg, and Pitfall – Jet Set Willy stands out with its surreal sense of humor and genuinely disturbing atmosphere. Like that other 8-bit pioneer Jeff Minter, Matthew Smith created his own idiosyncratic dream worlds with distinct rules and twisted logic, and as you battled through the bizarre house with its haunted wine cellars, its priestly holes. and its watchtowers, you really had to contend with monstrous visions, from rotating razor blades to giant demon heads. Smith only made a handful of games, but with Jet Set Willy he combined Monty Python and Hammer House of Horror for an unforgettable effect.
13. Athletics (1983, Konami)
Konami’s foundational track and field game was best known for bringing real physical exertion to the arcade sports experience, via the legendary buttoning interface. With six events, all demanding speed and timing, Track & Field allowed up to four players to compete against each other, inspiring the excellent Hyper Sports suite as well as a myriad of multi-sport home console simulations, including included Summer Games and of course Daley Thompson’s Decathlon, where a broken joystick or three was a sign of real engagement.
12. Mission Impossible (1984, Epyx)
“Another visitor… Stay a while. Stay forever. ”Those crisp words kicked off each adventure in Professor Elvin Atombender’s alluring and ever-changing lair, perfectly setting the scene for this seminal adventure platformer. Players took on the role of a secret agent. trying to find password bits and foil the professor’s terrible plans.Each procedurally generated room is filled with tricky robot enemies and jumping puzzles, and travel around the world is facilitated by animation beautifully fluid.It was a tough call between that and Paradroid, another formative Commodore 64 sci-fi adventure, but as it often was, Atombender ultimately won.
11. Kung Fu Master (1984, Irem)
With its crisp sound effects, giant character sprites, and array of martial arts attacks, Irem’s scrolling brawler set the tone for later fighting games and beat-’em-ups such as Yie Ar Kung Fu, Final Fight and Double Dragon. Heavily inspired by Bruce Lee’s Game of Death movie, Kung Fu Master has brought the thrills and conventions of Hong Kong action cinema to arcades around the world.
10. Ultima IV: Quest for the Avatar (1985, Original Systems)
It was difficult to select a representative role-playing game adventure of a decade that also saw Bard’s Tale, Dungeon Master, Lords of Midnight and Knight Lore – all of which were on the long list of the top 15. However, with its groundbreaking emphasis on personal moralityRichard Garriott’s Ultima IV brought something new to the fantasy genre, with players relying less on killing monsters than exploring the world of Britannia and learning a multitude of virtues. It was like playing the role of a noble knight in your own courtly love ballad.
9. OutRun (1986, Sega)
Blue skies, cool synthpop, hottest car imaginable – Outrun practically bled 80s culture. Designed by resident genius of Sega Yu Suzuki after a car tour of Europe, the game is basically not a racer; it’s about the joy of driving, its multi-story layout, and its scenic complexity inspired by arcade game design for the next decade.
8. SimCity (1989, Electronic Arts)
Will Wright’s urban design simulation took his authentic approach from dozens of textbooks (especially Jay W Forrester’s Urban Dynamics), integrating economics, architecture, culture, and law enforcement into his complex engine. of city-building – and it was a revelation. With its non-didactic design, which encouraged experimentation and self-expression, the game inspired a generation of students to become politicians and city planners, and more importantly, led to The Sims.
7. Robotron 2084 (1982, Williams Electronics)
I knew I had to include a left field shooter correctly in the roster and that I would probably have to choose between Zaxxon, Tempest, or Berserk. So I went for Robotron. This multi-directional classic from Defender design team Eugene Jarvis and Larry DeMar, pits players against invading robots and provides two joysticks: one for shooting and one for moving. It wasn’t the first use of this revolutionary interface, but it was the one that inspired the entire two-stick subgenre. A perfectly executed action game that rocks experienced players into a state of flux more effectively than any other shooter in history.
6. Gauntlet (1985, Atari)
Four characters and a giant multi-level dungeon filled with monsters, food and treasure: that was all Ed Logg needed to build the most eventful and thrilling multiplayer action game of the decade. Using the basic elements of the role-playing genre while removing all the boring conversation pieces, Gauntlet ushered in the dungeon crawler genre, ultimately leading to Diablo, The Binding of Isaac and Hades. It also meant that my childhood began every meal with the words, “The warrior really needs food,” for which I apologize to my family.
5. Gradius (1985, Konami)
The scrolling space shooter was the arcade star of the early to mid-80s, and I could have included R-Type, Galaga, Xevious, Defender, or many other beloved examples. But I went with Gradius, with its power-up system allowing players to customize their starcraft Vic Viper with a range of weapons and defensive systems. Stunning crisp graphics and epic boss battles have been added to the package, which is just as challenging and alluring today.
4. Elite (1984, Acornsoft / Firebird)
It still looks like the plot of a Christopher Nolan movie: In 1984, two Cambridge students managed to create a game that contained eight vast galaxies, thousands of space stations, a working economy, and an upgrade system. complex – all in rare but beautiful 3D. vector visuals. On a 32k computer. To this day, I remember the sounds of the Blue Danube accompanying the docking computer, the prices of luxuries in multiple systems, and the shock of running into an invading Thargoid fleet. It was, and still is, a little miraculous.
3. Super Mario Bros 3 (1988, Nintendo)
There is another version of this article where Nintendo titles dominate the entire list. Donkey Kong, Metroid, Legend of Zelda, and Mario Bros are all gigantic omissions. But I’m a terrible annoyance, so here we are. Super Mario Bros 3 is arguably the greatest pure platformer ever, a brilliantly constructed challenge featuring power-up costumes (including the famous tanooki costume), brave enemies, and a myriad of gameplay innovations. With its non-linear and often highly experimental design, it set the tone for the modern Nintendo era, preparing us for diverse and groundbreaking Mario titles such as Super Mario 64, Sunshine, Galaxy, and Paper Mario. In 2020, a blank unopened copy sold at auction for $ 156,000. It was a good deal.
2. Pac-Man (1980, Namco)
Designed by Toru Iwatani as an antidote to the main shooters of the time, Pac-Man replaced spaceships and aliens with a pretty sensitive mouth and four lovable ghosts. Everything in the game is iconic, from its pill-littered maze, to its “waka waka” sound effects, to its brilliant kawaii character design. He was an arcade superstar that spawned a merchandising gold rush, a series of sequels and, as I’ve said in the past, the concept of survival horror. Whatever you look at, Pac-Man, like Space Invaders, will always be a universal symbol of video games and the fun they bring.
1. Tetris (1984, various)
How was a puzzle game programmed an old Electronika 60 computer at the Dorodnitsyn computer center in Moscow to continue to seduce the whole world? How did seven differently configured tetrominoes falling into a confined space make about a billion players addicted? The rise of Tetris is the games industry’s most compelling story, and at the center of it is coder Alexey Pajitnov, whose childhood love of shape puzzles forged an application that made the Game Boy and brought his object sorting magic to every platform since. It’s not a game about heroes, it’s a game about the most human endeavors: tidying up and finding a place for things. Maybe that’s why we love it so much and why, when we close our eyes, we can still see an endless array of shapes slowly falling into place.