From Donkey Kong To Pole Position
There are many different things that help to define a generation or a decade, chief among them global events and popular culture references. The 1960s and 70s were defined by the Vietnam War, Woodstock, Watergate, and many other events. The 1980s were defined by, in part, popular culture references such as the advent of rock, “big hair” (watch any music video/movie/TV show from the 80s and you will see the women with big hair) and arcade games.
Going to the arcade and playing arcade games was a popular destination for kids in the 1980s. Arcades helped to spark the beginning of a gaming culture and gaming revolution that has evolved into the modern era, and will continue to evolve for the foreseeable future. Much to the dismay of parents’ wallets everywhere, arcade games were immensely popular and kids would spend hours playing them.
The most popular arcade games of all time, in no particular order, are: Asteroids, Centipede, Donkey Kong, Frogger, Pac-Man, Space Invaders and Pole Position. An argument could be made for each of these games that they are the best arcade game of all time, although I must say my personal favourite was Space Invaders. Space Invaders was a very simple game; no matter how much it cost me (my parents, really!), I was going to have the top score in that game.
Space Invaders is a simple shooting game where there are aliens moving from the top to the bottom of the screen chasing after you, and your job is to shoot them before they arrive. Centipede was a very similar game, the only exception being once the centipedes reached the bottom of the screen they could turn around, head back up the screen and then come back down after you. This introduced another dimension to the game as you now had to worry about enemies falling down on you and climbing up at the same time.
Frogger was a classic game where the goal was to simply not be run over while crossing the street. In Donkey Kong, your goal was to rescue a damsel in distress while avoiding barrels being tossed at you. The goal of Pac-Man was to eat as many dots as possible for points while avoiding ghosts, and Asteroids was all about scoring high points through shooting flying objects. Finally, Pole Position was one of the first games where you could sit inside and drive a car as if you were driving a real one, only at high speeds with points as your reward!
All of these games were the foundation for what we are seeing in video gaming today. All of the developments in video games would never have happened if there was not as much interest in them from millions of people. This interest can be traced all the way back to the early days of these arcade games and the excitement that was generated with each new release of the games.
So which were your favourite games and what was your top score?