The Best Arcade Games of All Time, Ranked

All things vintage are all the rage in 2022, and arcade games are no exception. In fact, experts project that the arcade gaming market will grow by $1.66 billion by 2025. This makes a lot of sense when you consider what a fun personal, and social experience going to an arcade can be!

Here, we’re going to talk about some of the best arcade games to try next time you head out to a video arcade. Read on to learn what you can expect at an arcade bar so that you can get ready and excited.

1. Pac-Man

To say that Pac-Man is the #1 arcade game out there isn’t just personal preference. It’s a fact that people have proven time and time again. Pac-man isn’t just the only arcade game that’s sold 100,000 machines; it’s also had tons of variations like 4-player Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man.

Additionally, in an 843-person randomized poll, Pac-Man came out as the most popular game over other arcade classics. Combine that with the songs written about it and its prevalence in pop culture, and you have a pretty good argument that Pac-Man’s earned its #1 position.

Pac-Man is elegant in its simplicity: you, the yellow Pac-Man character, move around the screen eating yellow blobs (that are presumably its food). You do this while evading ghosts that are out to get you (hilariously named Inky, Blinky, Pinky, and Clyde). However, you also can eat super-powered blobs that let you chase down and eat the ghosts for extra points.

2. Tetris

Tetris is one of our personal favorite arcade games because of the challenge that it presents. You’re given differently-shaped pieces one at a time. Z pieces pose a challenge, but line pieces can be a saving grace in times of crisis.

Your aim is to stack these blocks together in the most efficient possible way. Every time you completely fill a line, it goes away, and you earn points. You can fill multiple lines at once, too, and enjoy the satisfaction of your board becoming half its height.

As the game progresses, the blocks will move more quickly to make the game more challenging.

In addition to being a lot of fun, this game boosts quick thinking and raises your spacial awareness. You also might enhance your memory and even combat memories or traumatic experiences. Tetris is nothing short of a healing force.

3. Space Invaders

Space Invaders is another great arcade game that almost everyone knows of. It’s deep and simple at the same time.

It invented the difficulty curve that let games get more and more challenging as the player moved through levels. This has been a staple in arcade games ever since. Other modern games also take inspiration from this aspect of Space Invaders.

Space Invaders is a fixed shooter game where you move horizontally across the bottom of the screen. Your goal is to shoot down shifting aliens as they move toward your edge of the screen. You need to shoot all of them down before they reach your spaceship, and the game ends if they do.

This game is also awesome because it loops endlessly. You can literally play until your ship is overrun by aliens, start over, and work to beat your previous high score. This is part of what makes Space Invaders so addictive.

4. Donkey Kong

All of us are familiar with the loveable Mario Brothers, and Donkey Kong was the first game that introduced us to Mario. Of course, our beloved Italian plumber was called “Jumpman” on the earliest machines, but he was undoubtedly the character that we now know and love.

You take Mario – ahem, Jumpman – on a quest to the top of tall and twisted towers. Your aim is to rescue a princess from a monster called Donkey Kong.

You need to do this while dodging obstacles that Donkey Kong throws at you. This mostly means barrels that hurtle down at you from all areas of the screen. You’ll need to boost your hand-eye coordination to dodge multiple barrels at once.

5. Frogger

Frogger is a classic action-based game that essentially asks you to complete an obstacle course. You play as a series of frogs that need to get home. Unfortunately for them, their home is on the other side of both a busy street and a less-than-habitable river.

You migrated to your destination by dodging cars and other obstacles like bugs on the road. When you get to the river, you need to navigate it via a series of logs. Just make sure you don’t slide off the screen or accidentally leap onto a monstrous creature that will end your game!

Like most arcade games, Frogger becomes more and more difficult as you beat each level. This is probably one reason that it was once called one of the greatest video games ever made. We fully agree with this assessment, so come try to beat the high score on our arcade bar’s Frogger machine.

6. Pong

We couldn’t finish this list without including the simplest arcade game ever made: Pong. All you need to do when playing Pong is keep your ping-pong ball on your side of the screen by maneuvering paddles.

You want to shoot it off the other end of the screen and earn a point. It’s literally digital table tennis or air hockey with simple and easy-to-use graphics.

Pong has evolved into a huge phenomenon with tons of variants. You can get similar games on your Smartphone now with more complex images and colorful interfaces. Still, nothing quite beats the foundational arcade game that started it all.

Play the Best Arcade Games Today

Arcade games are extremely diverse and, for the most part, are all extremely fun. Still, some do stand out from the rest. Now that you know the best arcade games out there, it’s time to plan a trip to the arcade and get excited.

Emporium Arcade Bar is one of the best places to visit in Chicago. We offer all of the best arcade games you can think of and more. Contact us for more information about your next visit or to book a party room in our facilities.

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