The world of video games has evolved rapidly over the past few decades, with advancements in technology providing gamers with increasingly realistic and immersive experiences. However, for many people, the appeal of retro arcade games remains as strong as ever. These classic games, often characterised by their simple graphics and straightforward gameplay, hold a special place in the hearts of gamers.

Popular retro games from arcades
Arcades have been around for a long time, with carnival games and pinball being popular games since the early 1930s. Fast forward to the 1970s and arcade video games are introduced as technology developed. Many adults may remember spending their downtime in amusement arcades playing games like Space Invaders and Pac-Man. As well as arcade video games, arcades were full of a variety of games ranging from pinball machines and slot machines, to sports games and more carnival games.

So whether you’re a fan of Pong, Street Fighter, Whac-A-Mole, or fruit machines, here are just some classic retro games that will have been in arcades years ago:

1. One of the greatest video games of all time: Namco’s Pac-Man
Retro Pac-Man machines are among the most famous and recognisable arcade games of all time. First released in 1980 by Namco, Pac-Man quickly became a sensation and remains an iconic symbol of retro gaming. In Pac-Man, players control a yellow, pie-shaped character who must navigate a maze, eat dots, and avoid ghosts to advance to the next level. The game’s simple yet fun gameplay, coupled with its colourful graphics and catchy music, made it an instant hit among players of all ages.

Over the years, Pac-Man has been released in various forms, including a stand-up arcade machine, handheld game, and even as an app for smartphones. Today, retro Pac-Man machines can still be found in arcades and game rooms around the world, offering players a chance to experience the thrill of this classic game firsthand.

2. The most influential fighting game ever made: Street Fighter II by Capcom
Street Fighter II is a legendary retro arcade game that was released in 1991 by Capcom. The game quickly became a cultural phenomenon and is widely considered to be one of the greatest fighting games of all time. Street Fighter II features a diverse cast of characters, each with their own unique fighting styles and special moves, battling against each other in one-on-one combat. Players must strategically execute moves and combos to defeat their opponents and advance through a series of increasingly difficult stages.

With its stunning visuals, immersive sound effects, and deep gameplay mechanics, Street Fighter II became an instant hit among players and the original Street Fighter was even responsible for popularising the fighting game genre. Today, Street Fighter II can be played on various gaming consoles, allowing fans to enjoy the classic game from the comfort of their own homes.

3. The classic arcade game everyone has heard of: Space Invaders by Taito
Space Invaders is a classic retro arcade game that was first released in 1978 by Taito. The game is known for its iconic pixelated graphics and simple gameplay mechanics. In Space Invaders, players control a spaceship and must shoot down waves of invading alien spacecraft before they reach the bottom of the screen. The game’s popularity exploded upon its release and it became a sensation, ultimately paving the way for the modern video game industry.

Space Invaders has been remade and reimagined numerous times over the years and remains a beloved classic among fans of retro arcade games. Along with Sega, Namco, and Capcom, Taito is one of the most significant video game companies from Japan. As well as the much-loved Space Invaders, Taito also produced a range of other iconic arcade games in the 1970s, including Speed Race and Bubble Bobble.

4. The King of the racing games: Out Run by Sega
Every genre has its classic alpha big dog. In 80s TV it was the A-Team, in wrestling it was Hulk Hogan, but for many people in the arcade in the late 80s it was Out Run. The thing oozed class and drew punters to it like a magnet. The bright red colour, the Ferrari brand, the bright summery graphics, and the incredible music that just transported you away on a road trip like no other.

    If that wasn’t enough, some arcades had the deluxe sit down version, with hydraulics that let you feel each turn, with the sound of the ocean waves in speakers right next to your ears. It was the leading game in Sega’s great run of games, many of which used the new sprite scaling technology, such as Space Harrier, After Burner and Hang-on.

    5. A classic 1980’s arcade video game: Nintendo’s Donkey Kong
    Released by Nintendo in 1981, Donkey Kong is a classic retro arcade game that has captivated players for decades. The game’s colourful graphics, catchy music, and challenging gameplay have made it a beloved classic in the world of retro gaming. In Donkey Kong, players control a character named Jumpman (later, Mario), who must navigate a series of platforms while avoiding obstacles and enemies to rescue his girlfriend, Pauline, from the clutches of the game’s titular villain, a giant ape named Donkey Kong.

    The game’s simple yet engaging mechanics, charming characters, and immersive setting made it an instant hit among players and helped establish Nintendo as a major player in the video game industry. This retro game is well-known for various reasons, such as being the first game in the Donkey Kong series as well as actually being Mario’s first ever video game appearance too. Fast forward to today and the Mario franchise is now the top best selling video game franchise of all time.

    Many of these games have led to sequels, other spinoffs and many forms of merchandise. Retrogaming has been a genre that has steadily evolved over the years in different formats and in different kinds of games. For example there are many pinballs that have embraced retro styling over the years, and also fruit machines. Club Cops N Robbers Gold is a popular retro fruit slot machine by Bell Fruit Games that was released nineteen years ago in 2004. This classic game featured the voices of Ronnie Barker and Fulton Mackay and had various themed outcomes like ‘Go To Court’, ‘Caught Red Handed’, and players tried to spin for ‘Swagbags’. The game also featured a range of themed reels and symbols depicting cops, robbers, and various fruits. Much like this fruit machine and other arcade slot machines, online slot games also feature a variety of themed reels and symbols in them as well.

    The influence of retro arcades goes way beyond the scope of this article. New triple A games are being influenced by them, novels are being influenced by them and even Hollywood is being influenced by them.