There's a Japanese legend about a creature that eats monsters to keep children safe, and Pac-Man is its virtual incarnation. The 1980 game is set in a labyrinth and your Pac-Man creature must eat all the energy dots in order to complete a level. Unfortunately, ghosts roam the maze and threaten our valiant hero. Only an ephemeral power particle can make Pac-Man stronger than the ghosts. Eating fruit gives you bonus points.
Once more, Japan apparently ran out of 100-yen coins before the game known as Puckman in its native land changed its name to Pac-Man and arrived in America. The great achievement of the game was that the character personalized the entire video game industry. Pac-Man merchandizing rivaled Star Wars , with the yellow creature plastered on clothes, toys, food, and stickers. There was a television cartoon based on the triangular-mouthed creature, the "Pac-Man Fever" song by Buckner & Garcia topped the pop charts at #9, and the Pac-Man series even spawned Ms. Pac-Man and Baby Pac-Man. This is truly the most famous classic video game.
This game founded by the originator of Atari, Nolan Bushnell, was released in 1972. Actually, this simple table-tennis concept was rejected by the industry and Bushnell installed his machine in a California bar. He got a call later that week stating that the machine was broken; in fact, it was overflowing with coins.
Bouncing a small white ball between two paddles was an idea that took America by storm. Atari manufactured the games on its own and soon video arcades were born. There were several official sequels but many clones also saw the light of day. In addition, there is a variety of Java imitations on the Internet, proving that people still love Pong.
3. Space Invaders
What really made people realize that video games were here to stay was the 1978 release of Space Invaders . This Japanese creation featured a horde of aliens arranged in tight formation that descend on you. You control a solitary laser fighter, which can move laterally.
This was a game of reflexes, as you must destroy all the enemies before they take out all your shields and obliterate you. Apparently, the game was so popular in Japan that for a time, the country ran out of 100-yen coins. It was this game that brought video gaming into the mainstream. Four sequels later, Space Invaders has an important spot in gaming history.
4. Donkey Kong
Find me someone who has never heard of Donkey Kong and I'll show you someone who has spent the last twenty years under a rock. This is one of the first games Nintendo ever released and it was the foundation of its empire.
The game introduces us to Mario, who back then was referred to as "Jumpman," as he must rescue his girlfriend Pauline from the clutches of the evil ape, Donkey Kong. The famous Italian plumber (who was actually a carpenter in the original game) must climb his way to the top, making sure to avoid the barrels thrown down by the malicious primate. Countless sequels followed this 1981 original, as well as a TV cartoon, tons of dolls and pajamas, and even breakfast cereal!
The premise involved the player controlling a paddle at the bottom of the screen, trying to hit the ball up to destroy bricks at the top of the screen. This concept was actually taken directly from Atari's 1976 Breakout but what Taito did was up the ante.
The graphics were more colorful and the brick pattern changed in every level. Falling capsules also gave the game an edge by quickening the pace, adding balls, widening the paddle, or even warping you to the next level. Three sequels and many bootleg versions later, Arkanoid is still a favorite among gamers.
You stand behind your digital alter ego, a transparent green being, taking on a series of boxers from around the world, vying to win the coveted belt from Mr. Sandman. There was one joystick, three buttons, and a time limit for you to pummel your adversary into submission.
Failing to achieve knockout, you had to fall back on the judges' decision. This 1984 title spawned an arcade sequel before Nintendo took the franchise to its new console.
You remember that Seinfeld episode where George purchases a Frogger machine? Well, it's just that addictive. The concept couldn't be simpler: You're a frog and you want to cross the street. Easy, right? It would be if it weren't for the speeding vehicles, snakes, alligators, and impulsive turtles.
Basically, it's a game of rhythm where you must time your actions to make your moves when there's no danger, circumventing obstacles. The only reason there weren't any game sequels is that there was a fierce war over the distribution rights. Again, this 1981 classic made the jump to cartoons and its catchy theme song was actually released on an album.
8. Double Dragon
Fighting games have always been popular but never quite as influential as the revolutionary Double Dragon . The concept was rather simple as brothers Billy and Jimmy Lee, who you may also remember as Hammer and Spike, were martial artists looking for Billy's girlfriend and annihilating the Black Warriors street gang in order to do so.
The game featured a side-scrolling game play, in addition to some of the best graphics of 1987, and became a legend. There have been three sequels, a cartoon series, and even a feature film with Scott Wolf and Alyssa Milano. This is the true granddaddy of fighting games.
Is it possible to become obsessed with an orange creature with a big nose? Spend five minutes playing Q*bert and you'll find out. The game was released in 1982 and is well remembered today, having sprung merchandise like dolls and lunchboxes, and even a Saturday morning cartoon character on CBS's Saturday Supercade.
The object of the game, which takes place solely on a pyramid designed to look 3-D, is to have Q*bert jump on every square to make it change color. Beware of your enemies though: Coily the snake, Uggs, Wrong-Ways, Slick and Sam, and the deadly red balls!
10. Tag Team Wrestling
In 1985, Data East decided to take advantage of the growing wrestling craze sweeping the nation. Game play was easy: You control a pair of wrestlers, Jocko and Spike, and you must defeat your evil foe The Mad Maulers. Only one of your men fights at a time, the other rests and gets ready to jump in to relieve his partner. The graphics were quite good for the period, making moves such as the Body Slam, the Drop Kick and the Piledriver believable.