50 Best Arcade Games of All Time (2022 Update)

best arcade games

For anyone who loves a good arcade game, this list is the perfect resource. It includes 50 of the best arcade games of all time! From classics like Pac-Man and Donkey, this list has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a new favorite or just want to reminisce about your childhood, these are the top 50 best arcade games that every gamer should try out at least once!

List of best arcade games

1. Pac-man

Top 50 Arcade Games of All Times

We start of our list of best arcade games with an all-time classic Pac-man! Pac-man genuinely deserves to be in the number one spot. Pac-man was the top-choice arcade game for a long time, and it still is to this day. It has been around us since 1980, with many different versions of itself over the years. The primary purpose is to collect as many points by eating dots while avoiding ghosts that try to kill you.

2. Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat is an arcade fighting game released in 1992 created by Ed Boon and John Tobias. Mortal Kombat is a violent fighting video game with characters that use brutal, supernatural moves, including magic, telekinesis, fireballs, ice breath, and other play styles like weapons or animal attacks to win the match. Mortal Kombat started off a whole franchise of incredibly popular games.

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3. Street Fighter

Street Fighter is one of the most famous and classic arcade games ever made. Street Fighter is a fighting game that Capcom developed in 1987. It has four buttons: left punch, right punch, left kick, and right kick. Street Fighter’s aim is to win all rounds against your opponent without getting knocked out or hitting below the beltline (the opponent’s health bar must be empty).

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4. Space Invaders

Top 50 Arcade Games of All Times

Space Invaders is one of the most popular arcade games ever. Space Invaders was a pioneer in early video gaming because it established many conventions and gameplay elements that countless other successful titles would adopt. The player has the control of cannon at the bottom, and they have to destroy the aliens. Aliens try to save themselves by moving here and there.

5. Donkey Kong

Many memories are coming up to my mind when I think about Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong is one of the best arcade games ever created. The objective in Donkey Kong was simple: help Mario save his girlfriend from a giant ape by jumping over barrels and climbing ladders. You have to avoid fireballs too!

6. Galaga

This game is genuinely in a class of its own. It’s not just an arcade game but a work of art. Galaga is a shooting game the task of the player is to destroy the Galaga force, which is a pretty thrilling task. There are lots of fun moments with friends playing these kinds of things together, making even more unforgettable memories.

7. Frogger

Many kids from around the world remember Frogger from their childhood! Frogger was trendy and it still is a great arcade game to play. Frogger was such a visually fantastic game when it first came out, although it did, objectively, like the rest of this list, age badly.

8. Centipede

Top 50 Arcade Games of All Times

Centipede gained popularity in its early stages of release, and some people still consider it to be one of the best arcade games ever made. If you like shooting games, Centipede is a must-play! I remember going to my friend’s house on weekends and playing Centipede for hours with him on his Atari.

9. Defender

Defender is a classic game and it was also one of the best arcade games ever made because it was so unique and addictive! I played Defender game on a console at home, but it never compared with playing it out at an arcade where you can hear all the sound effects around you.

10. Joust 

Coming up in tenth place on our list of best arcade games is Joust. Joust is not an average arcade game. You control a knight in the sky on their flying ostrich while trying to knock your opponents off theirs and fly higher than everyone else. It’s simple but so much fun that it’s addictive! This is another one I played at home, too, even though there was no accurate comparison with playing it for yourself out at an arcade where you can hear all of the sound effects around you.

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11. Donkey Kong Jr. 

Another addition to the donkey Kong series. In Donkey Kong Jr., you play as donkey kong jr., and your primary mission is to rescue Donkey Kong from Mario. Mario will be throwing fruit at you, so beware! Donkey Kong Jr.  was brought into homes in 1983 with a Nintendo Entertainment System cartridge that contained the full Game.

12. Qix 

Top 50 Arcade Games of All Times

If you haven’t played Qix, then you’re missing out! Qix is an arcade game released in 1981, and no other games have come close to its originality. The goal of the game is to create 20% of a rectangle without enemies crossing your path. If they do cross your path, then it’s Game Over for you! The struggle to complete the rectangle is the main thrill of this Game.

13. 1943: The Battle of Midway 

1943: The Battle of Midway is a vertical scrolling shooter arcade game developed and released by Capcom. The player controls the character of a WWII fighter pilot whose mission is to thwart an enemy attack on American soil.

14. Ms. Pac-Man

Pac-Man was so successful that many other companies wanted to capitalize on it with their spin-offs or games using similar concepts; as a result, Namco released several follow-up titles such as

“Ms. Pac-Man” (1982), “Jr. Pac-Man” (1983), and “Baby Pac-Man”, all sharing both this title’s iconic protagonist and concept of completing a maze while eating dots along the way but not strictly following what came before them

15. Mega Man

Mega Man was an instant hit on the NES and is still iconic today. Mega Man was packed with exciting boss fights, challenging stages, a difficulty that pushed you to hone your skills, as well as a fantastic soundtrack. Mega Man has become one of Capcom’s most popular games over the years spawning several sequels and spin-offs.

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16. Golden axe

Top 50 Arcade Games of All Times

The Golden Axe would be the perfect arcade game, especially if you were a Sega fan. The graphics are great and memorable, and the combat is incredibly satisfying and simple enough to pick up quickly, even for those who don’t play games much.

17. Final Fight

If you have played any of the Street Fighter games, then you know how Final Fight works. Final Fight was a Street Fighter game with a fantastic scene of the megacity. The player has to fight with a professional wrestler or city mayor. It is similar to Double Dragon, Renegade, and other old-school beat–em–up that were popular at arcades in its time.

18. Battlezone

Battlezone was a game developed by Atari in 1980. Battlezone was one of the first arcade games to use a vector graphics display, and for this reason, it looked very different from other games available at that time. The objective is simple: destroy every enemy tank on each level before they can shoot you down. The player controls a tank with two cannons, one facing left or right (depending on if he’s moving) and another facing up.

19. Darius 

In the Game Darrius, you are given the controls of a fighter ship and must destroy the space creatures attacking your planet. Your ship can fire rapidly in four directions; up, down, left, and right. You’re also given two special weapons: bombs that explode under enemies or against walls to create a small opening for safe access if necessary, as well as an arrow shot that kills all on-screen foes instantly.

20. Gauntlet II 

Top 50 Arcade Games of All Times

Next up on the list of best arcade games of all time is Gauntlet 2. Gauntlet 2 was made right after the success of Gauntlet I, and it is essentially a remake. Gauntlet II was also the first game in which you could play four different characters: an elf, warrior, valkyrie, or wizard. You still have to run through maze-like levels while monsters are chasing after you, but now they can be killed by your shots as well.

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21. Altered Beast 

Altered beast is one of my personal favorites when it comes to good old arcade games. Altered Beast is set in ancient Greece, and you are a warrior who has been turned into a beast by Zeus himself because of your sins as a human being. Your mission is to become human again, kill all the enemies on every level and defeat Zeus.

22. Asteroids Deluxe 

Asteroids Deluxe was welcomed with great success by gamers when it was released. Asteroids Deluxe is addictive and fun to play because of the great gameplay mechanics that make you come back for one more try! The Game has an option called “Hyperspace”, which allows players to temporarily pass through a black hole, avoiding certain death as they can move faster than the light speed with this function.

23. Mr. Do! 

Mr. Do! is an underrated game with great features. In Mr. Do!, you have to collect cherries while avoiding monsters and digging your way through dirt to score points. I love this game because it’s a fast-paced arcade game with many different levels where players need to use their brainpower to figure out the best possible path for getting the highest amount of fruits without dying or running into any obstacles on their way there.

24. Burger Time 

Top 50 Arcade Games of All Times

Burger time is the perfect example of how to create a simple yet very addictive arcade game. This was the first time when Mr. Peter Pepper from G-mode and Namco came up with the idea of cooking burgers while avoiding enemies along the way to have all ingredients ready for making them.

25. Galaxian Clone

Galaxy clone was released in 1981 but is very similar to the 1979 game Galaxy. In some instances, it was marketed as “Galaxy Part II”. It features a more cartoon-like theme and different enemies than its predecessor. There are five levels in this Game instead of three like Galaxy I.

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26. Bubble Bobble 

Where to even begin with Bubble Bobble? If you want to play one of the best arcade games, Bubble Bobble is it! Bubble Bobble was made in 1986 and has since been released on a variety of systems. The goal is simple: get players through 100 levels by rescuing their friends trapped inside bubbles.

27. Dig Dug 

Dig dug was far ahead of its time when it was released in 1982. Dig Dug has many different enemies that players need to get through, and the Game is packed with secrets, so there’s always something new for everyone. Dig Dug was also available on some systems such as Commodore 64, Atari 2600, etc. Still, the best experience you can have playing Dig Dug right now would be on PC or mobile devices because they are better equipped than any other device when it comes to gaming!

28. Splat!        

Top 50 Arcade Games of All Times

Splat has been very successful over the years because of its fun gameplay, which you can easily pick up in a matter of seconds. So if you’re looking for a game that’s easy but still requires skill, then don’t look any further than Splat! Splat is a type of food fighting game; players have to avoid food dropping from a conveyors belt besides fighting with an opponent. Controlling two tasks at a time makes it amazing

29. Dynamite Duke    

You might have heard about Dynamite Duke by its other name, “Commando” Dynamite Duke is a run-and-gun style arcade shooter that was one of the first games to feature and allowed players to shoot in eight directions. That doesn’t sound like much now but back when this game came out, and it was mind-blowing!

30. Donkey Kong Junior  

Donkey Kong Junior had everything you would want from a classic arcade game. Donkey Kong Junior was an improved version of Donkey Kong, which came out in the 1980s. The gameplay is similar but has been made more complex and uses new mechanics such as obstacles that can only be removed by struggling hard. The graphics were also excellent, considering when this game came out which is why we put Donkey Kong Junior on our list of best arcade games of all time!

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31. Jr. Pac-Man

Jr. Pac-Man was marked towards children, and that’s why it was such an excellent game for them to play. The graphics were designed in bright colors, which made the gameplay very enjoyable. The sound of Jr. Pac-Man also added an excellent touch as there are different musical tracks you could choose from when playing this title!

32. Tetris

Top 50 Arcade Games of All Times

An all-time classic, Tetris is a puzzle game that is easy to play but hard to master: the longer you survive, the higher your score gets with Tetris. The Great thing about this one, though? You can find it on just about every modern console, including handhelds like Android or Nintendo DS, so there’s no excuse not to make sure to give this Game at least a try!

33. Battlezone

The game Battlezone was released by Atari back in 1980. It’s a first-person tank game and one of the most popular arcade games of all time.

34. Xevious

Xevious was the perfect representation of what a classic arcade space shooter should be. Xevious was addictive, it had excellent graphics for its time, and you could get lost in the game for hours (and lose all your credits!) Xevious is widely considered one of the earliest games to feature multiple scrolling levels, which gave players more than just an obstacle course as they tried their hand at being a top gun pilot.

35. Popeye

Popeye was as popular as the source material that inspired it. Players controlled Popeye as he ran around a side-scrolling environment trying to collect items, and of course, Olive Oyl was waiting for the big man at the end! The game also allowed players to eat canned spinach to give them certain powers or abilities.

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36. Rampage

Top 50 Arcade Games of All Times

In Rampage, you have to go to the top of the building and destroy everything in sight as a giant monster! There are also other versions where you can play with your friends, which is fantastic. This Game was one of my favorite games to play back then. Rampage had it all: two different screens, fantastic graphics, great sounds and music, power-ups, and excellent gameplay that felt like flying.

37. Ghosts’ n Goblins

Ghosts’ n Goblins gave nightmares to many people back in the day. It’s very hard from start to finish and only continues to help you out a bit. You may get lucky with random power-ups here or there, but that won’t make it any easier. I’m not sure if everyone knows Ghosts’ n Goblins, even though I think most people have at least heard about it before.

38. Contra

Contra was by far the best shoot-em-up in the arcade! Contra was developed by Konami and released as a coin-operated arcade machine in 1987. It was reaped with critical acclaim, particularly for its two-player coop mode. Contra is considered one of the best games ever made, even though it may not look that great compared to other modern side-scrolling shooters like R – Type or Gradius.

39. Gradius

You have to play Gradius if you haven’t already. The controls work very well, so you won’t have any problems playing this masterpiece! It’s considered one of the best games ever made, even though it may not look that great compared to other modern side-scrolling shooters.

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40. Rastan

Top 50 Arcade Games of All Times

Next up on our list of best arcade games we have Rastan. Rastan was the Game that kicked off my interest in gaming. It’s a side-scrolling hack and slasher with some platforming elements, similar to Golden Axe or Barbarian (except it has better gameplay). The graphics weren’t anything special, but I always thought it looked pretty good, even for its time. Rastan is still fun today.

41. Dragon Spirit

Dragon Spirit was among many shooters of the time, but I always liked this one. Dragon Spirit is a vertical scroller, and you use your trusty dragon to destroy all enemies that come at you. The gameplay of Dragon Spirit is pretty smooth like other Konami titles, so it’s worth playing if you are into these types of games!

42. Lumber Jacques

Lumber Jacques was the perfect game when it comes to scrolling arcade games. Lumber Jacques a simple platformer with you using bombs to defeat all the enemies on screen and progress through the levels, but it was so fun! I’ve always enjoyed scrolling arcades like Bomberjack. The gameplay is very fluid – even with two players at once, there isn’t any lag or slowdown, making for an ideal game.

43. Twin Cobra

Twin Cobra had everyone talking when it was first released, and even now, you can find plenty of gamers who consider this to be one of the best arcade games ever. The gameplay of Twin Cobra is fast-paced – just like a bomber jack, for instance! It has an entertaining style that will keep players entertained throughout their entire experience with the Game.

44. Ikari Warriors

Top 50 Arcade Games of All Times

Many players liked Ikari Warriors because of their intense action, great controls, and fantastic art style. Ikari Warriors itself has a simple concept, but it’s challenging to master, making gamers want to come back for more every time they play it. This is why the Ikari warriors arcade game was so popular when it came out in 1986.

45. Karnov

Karnov captures the essence of the genre with its simple controls and challenging gameplay. Karnov is known for being difficult, which makes gamers want to come back for more. Data East developed this arcade video game in 1987 as a side-scrolling action-adventure type title. Players control an ancient fighter called Karnov, who must save his people from evil sorcerers using sheer strength.

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46. Black Tiger

Black Tiger has been a classic arcade game for some years now. Black Tiger is an action-packed adventure that gamers have been enjoying since its release date, along with many sequels such as Karnov’94 and Super Smash TV. The graphics may not seem like anything extraordinary by today’s standards. Still, back then, it was all about gameplay rather than fancy effects or high-resolution images that take up hard drive space!

47. Rolling Thunder

Rolling Thunder will always be remembered as one of the best arcade games ever created. The gameplay of Rolling Thunder is fast and frantic throughout, with exciting elements such as homing missiles that could be activated at any time while playing to slow down the pace a little bit. Rolling Thunder was ahead of its time.

48. Strider

Top 50 Arcade Games of All Times

Strider is a game set in the future, and players take on the role of a ninja named Hiryu, who has been tasked with defeating an evil dictator. Strider is one side-scrolling game that left its mark. Players control Hiryu as he makes his way through different levels, using basic attacks such as throwing daggers at enemies.

49. Spy Hunter

When I first came across  Spy Hunter, I was surprised at how much there was to it. It’s like a cross between GTA and the Godfather, but you’re an undercover cop instead. Arcade games like  Spy Hunter are worth checking out as they have stood the test of time. They can be played repeatedly without getting old, making them fun to play matter how old you get.

50. Shadow Dancer

Top 50 Arcade Games of All Times

Last but not least on our list of best arcade games of all time is Shadow Dancer. Shadow Dancer was a great arcade game that was challenging but still fun to play. Many other games like Shadow dancer had unique gameplay and storylines, yet they all manage to keep gamers entertained for hours on end. While it’s hard to choose which one is the best, these are worth checking out as.

I’d have to say that all of these great old-school games deserve their spot on this list of best arcade games. That’s why they’re worth checking out if you never played them before.

It doesn’t matter how old are you; if you’re a fan of classic games or just want to join the craze – these are worth checking out! If you never played them before, I recommend trying each one. You might get hooked in no time at all and can’t stop playing!

  • Hrvoje Milakovic is co-owner of Fiction Horizon and a big cinephile. Apart from that, he likes to read comics, play games and collect action figures. He has been featured on LifeWire, Yahoo and IMDb, to name a few.