The Ultimate Game Room: 5 Classic Arcade Game Must-Haves

Classic arcade games fill most of us with a twinge of nostalgia – flashbacks to the days we’d skedaddle to the arcade with our friends as soon as the school bell rang. We would be anxious to use what was left of our loose change to beat each other’s Galaga scores.

While those days may be long gone, the moments and emotions associated with them can be relived through those games time and time again. Especially for those of us that grew up in the 80s and 90s, prior to modern-day console gaming, the arcade classics remain close to our hearts.

Whether you’re looking to re-incorporate some arcade gaming into your life by designing a game room, man cave, or rec room in your home, there are five classic games you can’t go wrong with.

#1) Asteroids

Always a classic. This 1979 game embodied a simple yet entertaining concept that could keep you occupied and entranced for hours on end. The object of the game was to shoot down as many asteroids and saucers as you could, without getting caught by the saucers’ counter-fire. As the game went on, the number of asteroids you had to dodge increased.

Asteroids was perhaps the first major hit of the Golden Age of Arcade Games, the decade from the mid-70s to 80s during which arcade games dominated pop culture.

#2) Golden Tee

Golf enthusiasts loved this introduction to sports in the arcade game world. Through the use of a trackball, this game allowed players to determine the direction and curve of their shot, as well as the amount of power with which they hit the ball. You could play casual 18-hole golf, closest-to-the-pin, and the contemporary version even allows you to compete online.

Golden Tee’s longevity speaks most to its appeal, however. Developed in 1989, it is one of the longest running arcade games of all time. Contemporary versions feature 1080p graphics, large LCD screens, personalized gameplay, and over 60 courses to choose from.

#3) Monster Bash

This Universal crossover was so popular in the 90s, Williams is releasing a remake. It featured some of the most famous Universal monsters, such as The Creature from the Black Lagoon, The Wolfman, Frankenstein’s monster, the Bride of Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Mummy. 

The object of the original game was to collect instruments from each character in order to form the legendary Monsters of Rock band. It also had an easter egg mode, which features different music and commentary from the game’s programmer.

Chicago Gaming is releasing a remake as part of their series of classic pinball remakes, which also includes Medieval Madness and Attack from Mars.

#4) Attack from Mars

If there’s one thing you can gather from arcade game concepts, it’s this: 80s and 90s kids were obsessed with space exploration. The Attack from Mars pinball game features six objectives, and the ultimate goal is to destroy the Martians that have attempted to invade Earth.

The game’s incorporation of objective-based gameplay was ingenious, and the four-ball wizard mode bonus at the end made was particularly immersive. The game’s artwork and design were equally mesmerizing, with four dancing Martian figurines and a strobe light adding some extra pizzazz to the playing field.

The game was succeeded by a Revenge from Mars sequel and was remade in 2017 by the Chicago Gaming Company. 

#5) Pac-Man

Obviously, this one is on the list. You didn’t really think we’d forget it, did you? Pac-Man is perhaps one of the most legendary and groundbreaking arcade games of all time. When Pac-Man was first released in 1980, space shooter games were the popular concept amongst arcade gamers (see: Asteroids). With that, Pac-Man introduced a new genre, instantaneously boosting it to the most popular and highest-grossing arcade game of all time.

Once Namco realized that a large portion of Pac-Man players were women, they decided to release Ms. Pac-Man. It was frequently debated that the Ms. Pac-Man game was even better than the original. However, this also marked Namco as the first arcade game manufacturer to acknowledge female inclusivity.

Since Pac-Man’s original release, more than 30 licensed spin-offs have been produced. The game has also transcended platforms, available for PC, smartphones, and console.

The Significance of Classic Arcade Games

The rise of classic arcade games coordinated with a general increase in technical design and creativity. They provided less athletic kids with an outlet for still testing their agility, coordination, and precision. Furthermore, they symbolized an opportunity for bonding. You could say the Golden Age of Arcade Games was a Renaissance-era of its own.

What’s more, classic arcade games singlehandedly inspired the classic video games that came to Nintendo gaming consoles later on. Perhaps most importantly, however, is that they hark back to a time of simplicity and blitheness for those who grew up on them.

About the author: Ellie Batchiyska is a writer for The Pinball Company, the largest online retailer of arcade games in the U.S., including the Attack from Mars and Monster Bash pinball machines.

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