Can You Identify These Classic Arcade Games?

By: Craig
Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

Dangerous gorillas, heroic plumbers…they're all classics! But could you identify them from just a single image? Relive your childhood and give it a go! Press start!

With the huge success generated by Pac Man, there were always going to be follow-up games. And what better way to appeal to potential female gamers than by introducing Ms. Pac Man. Ms. Pac Man was extremely popular and by 1987, just five years after its release, the game had generated $1.2 billion. That’s a lot of quarters!

Everybody loves Mario but not many remember that he actually made his debut in Donkey Kong, released in 1981. Mario was tasked with saving his girlfriend, abducted by a big bad gorilla. Mario didn’t even have a name for his arcade game debut. He was only known as Jumpman.

With animation from Don Bluth, an ex-Disney animator, Dragon’s Lair was simply incredible for 1984. In the game, players control Dirk the Daring on a quest to save Princess Daphne from the evil dragon, Singe. Gameplay included various cut scenes in which players had to time their action perfectly. It was one of the first games to use laser disks as a form of storage.

Released in 1980, Pac Man was nothing like the other games around at the time which mostly involved spaceships and shooting aliens. It was programmed by Toru Iwatani who worked at Namco on paddle games. Over 350,000 Pac Man arcade machines were sold in the first 18 months after its release. The game was first called Puck Man.

One of the greatest fighting games ever produced, Mortal Kombat has become a massive franchise. With a range of characters from which to choose, the ability to play against your friends and gory finishing moves, Mortal Kombat proved extremely popular on its release in 1992. The violence in the game caused much controversy.

Another excellent fantasy-based game, Golden Axe saw players choosing between three different warriors in their attempt to beat the evil Death Adder. Golden Axe was essentially a fighting side scroller but players could use weapons, magic and even ride beasts as they attempted to defeat their enemies. It was released in 1987.

One of the popular early driving arcade games, Outrun was released by Sega in 1986. It saw players having to race their Ferraris along a series of roads, always against the clock. Reach the checkpoints in time and your overall time is extended. Don’t and the game is over. Some Outrun consoles included a seat and steering wheel to further enhance the gaming experience.

Released in 1991, The Simpsons follows the madcap cartoon family as they attempt to rescue Maggie, who has been kidnapped. The great thing about this game is that it allowed four players to play at once. The game takes the form of a side-scrolling fighter.

Space Invaders was designed by Tomohiro Nishikado and was first released in 1978. In Japan, it was released as a table game, while in America, it came in the regular game cabinet format. Space Invaders’ design was copied in many future games. It was the first arcade classic that saved players' high scores and initials.

This space shooter, the sequel to the popular Galaxian, first hit arcades around the world in 1981. Built along a space theme, Galaga featured swooping enemies as well as the ability to have your ship captured. Galaga kept track of a player's hit/miss ratio for bullets fired and even had challenge stages.

Atari’s best-selling game of all time, Asteroids is set in space and sees players having to blast large asteroids and fight off UFOs as they move around the screen. It was released in 1979 and sold 70,000 units in the United States alone bringing in over $150 million in revenue.

Designed by Ed Logg and Dona Bailey for Atari, Centipede was released in 1980. It was another shooter game but instead of aliens, space invaders or asteroids, players had to use their ship to shoot a centipede moving down from the top of the screen. Bailey was one of the first female game designers.

A product of Japan company Namco, Dig Dug made its debut in 1982 and was released in the United States by Atari. It was one of a broad spectrum of games slowly moving away from the space theme that had dominated early arcade gaming. This featured a character trying to steer clear of monsters while digging through dirt. The original soundtrack was recorded by Chubby Checker but it was never used.

Created by Shigeru Miyamoto, Mario Bros was released in 1983 and featured the now legendary brothers, Mario and Luigi. It sees them fight various creatures in the sewers below New York in a platform-style game. This was the game where the original Jumpman from Donkey Kong became Mario.

This space arcade classic, released in 1981, was a little different from other space games at the time in the fact that it scrolled to the left and right as opposed to up and down. It was developed by pinball programmer, Eugene Jarvis and sold over 55,000 units.

Designed by Tōru Iwatani, who had also worked on Pac Man, Pole Position was released in 1982 by Namco. It is widely considered one of the greatest racing games ever made on any platform. The game saw players trying to qualify for a Formula One race. If they succeeded, they raced against seven other cars. If not, it was simply game over. Its success even led to a children’s cartoon of the same name.

Released by Williams Electronics (also responsible for Defender), Joust hit the arcades in 1982. It featured two-player gameplay which made it particularly popular. In Joust, players controlled a knight flying an ostrich. The objective was to knock the bad knights off their flying beasts. Over 26,000 units of Joust were sold.

Before Space Invaders, before Pac Man, there was one of the granddaddy’s of video games – Pong. Designed in 1972 by Nolan Bushnell, it was a simple game with two paddles, a net and a ball. It was so popular that Atari designed a home system that went on sale in 1974.

Another game styled on Space Invaders, Galaxian was released in 1979 by Namco. Although similar to Space Invaders, in Galaxian the alien ships swooped down on the player, meaning death came from either being shot or from crashing into them.

Following the success of Donkey Kong, a sequel featuring his son was released by Namco in 1982. It was essentially a turnaround from the original game with D.K. Jr trying to rescue his father who had been captured by Mario. It followed the same platform mechanics of the original with a few upgrades, including vines that D.K. Jr could climb up and down.

Missile Command became extremely popular thanks to the fact that it was so very different from other arcade games. Based on a Cold War nuclear scenario, the game saw players having to stop the destruction of six cities in a nuclear attack by destroying incoming enemy missiles. The game used a trackball for players to move a cursor around and to launch their missiles.

Released in 1984 by Namco in Japan, Punch Out was a boxing game that became extremely popular, eventually porting to a range of home TV game devices. It saw the player take on a range of boxers each with its own characteristics and names such as Glass Joe, Bald Bull and Mr. Sandman. The object of the game was to knock out your opponent within the allotted 3 minutes.

This 2D action puzzle game was released in 1982 and featured Q*Bert, a round orange character with an oversized nose. The object of the game is to hop from cube to cube, changing their colors in the process. Change all the colors and you complete the level. Of course, a variety of monsters chase Q*Bert, making the task tricky. One wrong move and Q*Bert can fall to his death. The game was a huge success with 25,000 arcade cabinets sold featuring it.

Gauntlet took a side-scrolling shooter and turned it into a fantasy game with Wizards, Warriors, Elves, and Valkyries and a host of enemies. The game was released in 1985 and was immediately popular, largely thanks to the fact that you could play multiplayer with your friends.

One of the classic arcade fighting games, Street Fighter was published by Capcom and released in 1987. What made it so popular was the fact that players could take on their friends in a multiplayer battle while choosing from a host of different characters. Each of these characters had their own strengths, weaknesses and special moves. It was one of the first games to include different special moves for each character.

A shooter with a slight difference, 1942 opted for aircraft instead of the regular aliens and spaceships. Set in World War II, the object of the game was to complete all the stages and finally get to Tokyo while destroying the Japanese air force and navy which included boss aircraft, typically more difficult to dispatch than regular aircraft.

Double Dragon sees players controlling the Lee Brothers who are trying to save a girl from the dreaded Black Warrior Gang. This 1987 release was a fighting-style game but not in the mold of Street Fighter. Instead, players had to defeat wave after wave of enemies. The success of Double Dragon even led to a spin-off cartoon series.

A platformer in the mold of Donkey Kong, Burger Time sees players control Chef Peter Pepper who must make complete hamburgers while avoiding other forms of food, such as eggs and wieners. Peter can stun these foods by throwing pepper at them or destroy them by putting burger ingredients drop on their heads.

Based on the Disney movie of the same name, Tron was released in 1982. This game consists of four different mini-games, for example, light cycle racing where the object is to have your opponent ride into the trail you leave. Other mini-games included I/O tower, MCP Clone and Battle Tanks.

Rampage was a fairly unique concept in 1986. It sees players take control of various monsters (a massive gorilla, for instance) and try to destroy city buildings while under attack from army personnel and helicopters. Other than the gorilla, Rampage featured a werewolf and a Godzilla-type lizard. It could be played by three players simultaneously.

In 1981, Atari released Tempest, a 3D shooter game in which players moved a craft around the outline of various shapes while shooting enemies moving towards them. Players had the ability to choose their starting levels at the beginning of play making Tempest one of the first games to employ such a feature.

1985’s Paperboy, released by Atari, was fairly unique for the time. In it, players had to control a paperboy on his rounds delivering newspapers. Of course, he had to avoid pitfalls that could take his life, including cars, pedestrians and a range of others. The game takes place over the course of a week.

Featuring bubble dragons Bub and Bob, Bubble Bobble sees players controlling these two characters as they try to navigate 100 levels to rescue their girlfriends from Baron Von Blubba. To proceed from level to level, the dragons can blow bubbles to catch their enemies and then hit them away. Once all enemies are eliminated, the next level begins. The game was created by Fukio Mitsuji and released in 1986.

A vertical scrolling game, 1983s Spy Hunter sees players controlling a car traveling along a road. Their objective it to destroy various enemy vehicles while at the same time protecting civilians. Players can use a range of weapons to do this, including machine guns, oil slicks, and even missiles. The game was a huge success and ported to many other gaming systems.

One of the earliest arcade games, Breakout was released in 1976 and sees players having to destroy bricks with a ball and paddle. It was built by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak who later went on to form Apple. Scoring is achieved by destroying the bricks with each color offering a different points value. A life is lost if the ball is missed.

Taking on the role of Luke Skywalker, Star Wars is a 3D shooter in which players are tasked with ultimately destroying the Death Star. There are three combat phases to the game, first in space, then near the Death Star and finally, the final run along a trench on the space station itself. Over 12,000 arcade units of Star Wars were sold in 1983.

This 1979 release uses vector graphics similar to those appearing in Asteroids. The gameplay sees a player attempt to land a lunar lander on the moon, controlling decent using thrusters but using fuel in the process which must be properly managed.

This extremely popular game saw players undertaking a range of athletic disciplines, including the 100-meter sprint, 110-meter hurdles, long jump, hammer throw, javelin and high jump. In each event, players had to first qualify for the event final.

Moon Patrol sees players controlling a lunar buggy as it rides along the surface of the moon. While trying to avoid rocks and holes in the terrain, players must also deal with various aliens above them who are trying to destroy their vehicle. The rocks and aliens can be destroyed using lasers on the buggy. Moon Patrol was released in 1982.

This vertical scroller sees players taking command of a soldier as he moves up the screen while attempting to avoid enemy fire. To do this, players use a machine gun or hand grenades to take out enemy units. Each level ends when waves of enemies storm the player from behind the gates of a fortress.

This 1980s classic sees a stick man character fighting off various robots in a maze-like structure. The robots talk to the player as Berserk used a form of speech synthesis, one of the first games to do so. There were around 17 phrases programmed into the game.

A true classic, Elevator Action sees the player take control of a spy who must infiltrate an enemy building, steal documents, navigate 30 floors and exit. All the while he must use elevators to move through the levels while being pursued by enemy agents. Elevator Action was first released in 1983.

Popeye, released in 1983, was a platform that featured all the characters from the cartoon series. In it, a player controlled Popeye as he attempted to collect items dropped from the top of the screen by his girlfriend, Olive Oyl. Popeye could traverse the area using ladders while his arch-enemy, Brutus, attempted to stop him.

Based heavily on the original Breakout, Arkanoid also sees players having to destroy colored bricks with a paddle and ball. They do receive upgrades, however. These come in the form of lasers, bigger paddles, multiple balls and sticky paddles, amongst others. Arkanoid was released in 1986.

Designed by Mark Cerny, Marble Madness was released by Atari in 1984. Using a trackball controller, a player must navigate a marble through a number of challenging levels. The object is to complete the level, in the quickest time possible.

Released in 1982, Time Pilot was a multi-directional shooter in which a player took control of a spacecraft as it ventured through various levels, each specific to a time period. The object is not only to destroy the enemies but release already captured pilots. Each time period ends with a boss fight.

Also known as Rush ‘n Attack, Green Beret was released by Konami in 1985. This side-scrolling platformer saw players take control of a soldier as he worked his way through a level while avoiding or killing various enemies. Each stage ends with a massive battle.

Another vertical scrolling shooter, Ikari Warriors was released in 1986. The object of the game is to reach the Ikari Village while fighting off hordes of enemy soldiers, tanks and helicopters. Players could use machine guns and grenades to kill enemies.

This run and gun arcade game was released in 1987 and became very popular, especially as it allowed two players to team up. Although most of the game is run and gun style, there are two other playing modes, including a 3D view.

1987s Afterburner was one of the most popular air combat games ever released. In it, players flew an F-14 Tomcat, popularized by the movie, Top Gun. It included 18 different stages, each with hordes of enemy planes. Players could use machine guns or missiles to take them out. Many After Burner consoles included cockpit designs with proper joysticks to enhance the realism.

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