10 Awesome Arcade Games of Yesteryear

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Discs of Tron

Without a doubt, one of my all-time favorite arcade games. You play Tron from the Disney movie. You’re stuck in an arena of sorts while using a throwing disc as a weapon and as a shield. Across from you is another guy with a disc. It’s his job to kill you. It’s your job to survive as long as possible. The graphics were pretty solid for it’s time, and this was just a fun game to play. It got complicated in the higher levels, with all kinds of funk additions adding to the difficulty of the game.

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Popeye

Just a cute little game. It’s another, fairly simple climbing-around-the-screen game, vaguely reminiscent of earlier video games such as Donkey Kong. Here you play the sailor Popeye trying to win the love of your favorite girl, Olive Oil, while avoiding the dastardly Bluto. Even though this was a pretty easy game, I never could seem to master it for some reason.

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Robotron: 2084

This game has a lot of basic similarities to the earlier Berzerk game, but Robtron: 2084 is a lot tougher. For one thing, there are a LOT more robots gunning for you. For another thing, the action here is much, much faster than older robot-shooting games like Berzerk. I always like this game. It had fairly simple graphics, but plenty of color flashing at you all the time.

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Sinistar

At first glance, Sinistar would seem to be like a hundred other games. You’re flying a ship through space while avoiding meteors and enemy spaceships while you try to take out those enemy spaceships. Sound familiar? It should, but there’s more. There’s Sinistar, this great, big, giant spaceship or robot thing with the face of a devil. And it’s coming for you. Fast. Very fast. And it’s loud, screaming and roaring at you like a demon. I think I had nightmares about that scream when I was a kid.

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Spy Hunter

One of the sleekest video games to ever hit the arcades. You’re a spy driving a car down the road. Enemy spies come along, trying to take you out while you try to avoid hurting civilian traffic. To add to the fun of this game, you’ve got some special weapons you can use, such as oil slicks that shoot out the back of your vehicle, a rocket launcher, and more. For even more fun, every so often you got the opportunity to trade in your spy car for a jet boat. Awesome! But watch out for those helicopters overhead.

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Star Trek

Sure, by today’s standards this Sega Star Trek arcade game from the early ’80s had pretty lousy graphics. But for the time they were okay, and the action was top notch. You pilot around the starship Enterprise, docking with space stations and shooting Klingon ships. This was loads of fun, and if you got good at it the game could last for hours. It did for me. Warp speed!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

This was a scrolling game. You played one of the ninja turtles, and you could have friends play the other three turtles. You and pals scrolled across the screen taking out wave after wave of bad guys and bosses. One of the earliest games I remember allowing you to insert more quarters to continue with gameplay. Pretty solid graphics for its day, and the characters had plenty of funny actions and quippy sayings.

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Time Pilot

You pilot a fighter jet through different time periods while fighting enemy fighter planes and flying saucers from the past, present and future. Awesome, awesome game. The graphics did their job, but were nothing overly special. It was the gameplay that really made Time Pilot something special. And when you got to the futuristic level where you were fighting those flying saucers, you knew it was something special. Though it was a bit of a letdown after that high level to have to go back to the past and fight planes again. But the planes were faster second time around. A lot faster.

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Xenophobe

The graphics for this game were kind of cartoony, but still, a chill went up and down my spine whenever I’d see those enemy aliens mutate and grow and grow and grow. The basics of this game: You’re on a spaceship filling up with alien space pods and aliens themselves. Ugly, green aliens that want to eat you. Your job is to blow them away. Simple, right? Not so much. You have to play it to experience it.

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Wizard of Wor

This was a maze game where you roam around and shoot the enemy monsters while trying not to get eaten or shot. Best if played with a buddy, so each of you could take to the screen. An easy game at low levels, but those monsters kept getting faster and faster. Not good graphics, but the gameplay added a lot.

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