The 50 greatest arcade games of all time have been named

If you were asked to make a list of the 50 greatest arcade games of all time, we’d imagine most of today’s generation would struggle to name 20.

However, for the generation which grew up with these classics as their main source of arcade entertainment, Rankers and its readers have made the decision for you.

This list includes games that were released in arcade first from 1970 to 1995, so see how many you can spot that you’ve played in your lifetime.

So let’s not waste anymore time, and get on with the list.


50. Golden Axe (1989)

49. After Burner (1987)

48. NBA Jam (1993)

47. Popeye (1982)

46. Final Fight (1989)

45. Elevator Action (1983)

44. Battlezone (1980)

43. Robotron: 2084 (1982)

42. Moon Patrol (1982)

41. Arkanoid (1986)

40. OutRun (1986)

39. Commando (1985)

38. Track & Field (1983)

37. Pong (1972)

36. 1943 (1987)

35. Dragon’s Lair (1983)

34. The Simpsons Arcade Game (1991)

33. Missile Command (1980)

32. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game (1989)

31. BurgerTime (1982)

50-31 Summary

Among the games listed in 50-31, there are quite a few which relate to popular TV series from the time, including ‘Popeye’, ‘The Simpsons’ and ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’. Clearly these brought back some fond memories for the readers.

‘Pong’ at number 37 is, of course, one of the earliest video games ever created, so a little surprising to see it so high up on the list.

However, it’s hardly as entertaining as wondering around a maze of burger buns as with spot number 31, so maybe its position is understandable. 


30. Bubble Bobble (1986)

29. Tempest (1980)

28. Donkey Kong Jr. (1982)

27. Paperboy (1984)

26. Star Wars (1983)

25. Q*bert (1982)

24. Rampage (1986)

23. Galaxian (1979)

22. Spy Hunter (1983)

21. Frogger (1981)

20. Tron (1982)

19. Punch-Out!! (1984)

18. Pole Position (1982)

17. Mortal Kombat (1992)

16. Joust (1982)

15. Street Fighter (1987)

14. Double Dragon (1987)

13. Street Fighter II (1992)

12. Defender (1980)

11. Gauntlet (1985)

30-11 Summary

Getting towards the top 10, there are a tonne of games here which are easily recognisable, even by most of the younger generation.

Classics like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter are still going strong today, while some version of Tempest is available on pretty much every smart phone in the world.

Donkey Kong Jr. also appears in this section along with a Star Wars entry, showing how popular those two brands were in the early 80s arcades. 


10. 1942 (1984)

9. Centipede (1980)

8. Mario Bros. (1983)

7. Asteroids (1979)

6. Dig Dug (1982)

5. Ms. Pac-Man (1982)

4. Space Invaders (1978)

3. Donkey Kong (1981)

2. Pac-Man (1980)

1. Galaga (1981)

10-1 Summary

The top 10 classic arcade games, as chosen by Ranker and its readers, are not really surprising.  Even today, it’d be difficult to find someone who hadn’t heard of most of the titles in this section of the list.

Unsurprisingly, ‘Mario’ and ‘Donkey Kong’ feature in the top 10, while other cult classics like ‘Dig Dug’ and ‘Space Invaders’ also hold very respectable positions.

Perhaps most surprising is the fact that ‘Pac-Man’ isn’t number one, as it’s largely recognised worldwide as a staple of arcade gaming, and is certainly a game that every generation would recognise.

Interestingly, though, ‘Pac-Man’ did actually receive more upvotes than ‘Galaga’ at number one, but it also got more downvotes, and so that is what placed ‘Pac-Man’ into a very solid second place. 

Number one on the list, ‘Galaga’, is definitely a deserved winner. Perfectly executing a simple concept, it doesn’t really get any more ‘arcadey’ than that. 

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