10 Video Games That Were More Fun in the Arcade

10 Video Games That Were More Fun in the Arcade

My father traveled a great deal when I was young. One of the first things he would always do when he got home was cart my brother and me off for an afternoon of video games at the local arcade. The best part was he didn’t just stand there watching us; he jumped right in. In fact, it was my father who held the high scores on many of the popular machines.

Do you have memories like that, time spent in the local arcade, plunking in quarter after quarter? Today kids just have to plug in the Wii to get their fix, but I miss the old days. There were rows of huge machines where everyone stood side by side, fighting for the high score and the honor of placing their initials at the top of the list.

Here’s my top ten list of games that, even though you can find a PC or console version, were more fun to play in the arcade.

Space Invaders

This is the game that started it all for me. I always thought it was funny that the artwork on the machine proved that even Tomohiro Nishikado didn’t know what the invaders looked like. The pixilated alien is a pop culture icon and the game itself helped expand the industry. Hard to believe a two-dimensional shooter game could do all that, but it did. That classic arcade sound each time you pressed the fire button was unique and one of a kind.

Asteroids and Asteroids Deluxe

I wanted to group the Asteroid games together, because the deluxe game is just an enhancement to the fun of the original. Who doesn’t miss flipping through space, trying to destroy the never-ending bombardment of flying asteroids? Then there’s the occasional alien saucer trying to reclaim their airspace. These vector games not only looked cool, the spinning rocks and shields on the deluxe version kept us classic junkies coming back.


Anyone who played arcade games and loved Dungeons and Dragons, remembers Gauntlet. Not only was it one of the first multi-player dungeon crawler games, it was also the game that kept sucking up your quarters. Grab the gold, grab the food and make sure you destroy the monster mounds!


One of the all-time greats was the one we played in every pizza parlor in town. Table-top arcade games soon became the rage and you could never finish a slice of pizza without trying to kill the bouncing spiders, wandering salamanders and the fast moving centipede. Even if your soda spilled all over the table, you’d wipe it aside and keep on shooting!


My all time personal favorite growing up, Defender was one of two games I never got bored of, thanks to Williams Electronics; controlling a space ship, navigating across hostile terrain to defend your men against the green aliens trying to cart them off to who knows where.  The game had it all: fast flying, cool mini-maps for high speed bursts and bombs to help your men, just in the nick of time.


Pac-Man was, and still is, an arcade icon, inspiring an unequalled series of offshoot games. Pac-Man, Ms Pac-Man, Super Pac-Man, Baby Pac-Man, Professor Pac-Man, Pac & Pal, Jr. Pac-Man, Pac-Land, Pac-Mania, Pac-Man VR, and Pac-Man Battle Royale (2011). Now say that 5 times fast! How could a silly yellow smiley with an insatiable appetite, buzzing around a maze, capture the attention of generations? Not a clue, but it did, and I miss it.


This was another game, which held my attention without failure, along with Defender. Created by Atari, it seems simple enough, but the complexity of the angles and perspective made it a local favorite. Sam’s Old-Town Arcade never had enough of these games to satisfy the crowd of kids, who argued over who got to play next.

Donkey Kong

Where did Mario come from? Donkey Kong, of course! Trying to get past that barrel rolling Kong to get the girl, or so he thinks. Barrels, animated fireballs, sledgehammers, springs, elevators and collapsing platforms greet the adventurous player. One of Nintendo’s all time greats, without a doubt. Too bad Mario ended up in the sewers.


Not only is Tron a classic movie, Bally Midway made it into an equally classic video game.

  • The Light Cycles: race your blue light cycle around the arena against the enemy, creating walls to contain your competitors. The trick is you have to avoid their walls as well, or die.
  • Battle Tanks: work yourself through a maze while the enemy tanks try to find you and blow you up. Your cannon has to be on rapid fire, because you can’t take a single hit and survive.
  • Input/Output Tower: shoot the grid bugs as seen in the movie, but you’ll have to beat the timer to win.
  • MCP Cone: battle against the master control program by destroying the multi-colored wall and then into the cone. Get a bonus for blowing up all the blocks.

Dragon’s Lair

This is the game I miss the most. Not only was it fun to play, it was just as fun to watch. Kids would gather around and shout out the mistakes of those trying to guide Dirk the Daring through the deadly maze of challenges. Why do I remember this game over any other? Because it’s the game my own father beat, before any other kid had the chance. The youth would ooooo and ahhhhhh as my pop showed them how a reluctant hero can kill the dragon and get the girl. Way to go dad.

What was your favorite arcade game? Comment below to let me know if it was better than the console version.

Taggart writes for CableTV.com, check them out for XFINITY Internet. In his free time he writes about his three main passions: business, technology, and entertainment. You can follow him on Twitter: @CallMeTagg.