Podcast: Top 5 Golden Age Arcade Games

I recently sat down with Mark Steadman of the List Envy podcast to discuss our opinions about the five best games of the arcade golden age (1978 - 1983).  

Concerning the blog, it is still alive and kicking, even if I haven't posted in a while. I have several entries in work, including the finale of my analysis of Centipede.  If you 're looking for content on a more regular basis, I post on my Twitter feed daily.


  1. I'm surprised you didn't mention the mobile bonus items in Ms. Pac-Man along with the biggest change - 4 mazes instead of 1! I would propose that those are the main reasons that most people seem to prefer Ms. Pac-Man. Only having one maze is my main gripe about Pac-Man.

    1. IMO, those are minor changes compared to the addition of randomness. They function more like bonus features, while randomness changes the entire complexion of the game.

    2. I listened to the rest of it. Those are some good pics for your top five. Robotron 2084 is probably my favorite among them. It really gets your heart racing!

      Like you, I don't have much nostalgia for a lot of these games as I wasn't able to play arcade games much when I was a kid, particularly in the early 80s. My mom would give me one or two quarters to play Pac-Man or Galaga and I would use up all of my lives in less than a minute!

      Most of my nostalgia is from the early 90s beat-em ups like TMNT and Capcom's D&D games. I can still get some enjoyment out of those today, however after sitting down and rediscovering the early 80s games, I find the earlier era much more enjoyable. My brother and some of my friends think I'm crazy for this and refuse to sit down and give them a chance. They just see the simple graphics and blow them off.

  2. These are my top 5:

    1. Millipede - I really like the dynamic gameplay. No two plays are alike. It's really hectic and feels a lot more alive than Centipede (which I also love). I just wish the colors were more vibrant like Centipede.

    2. Wild Western - Only discovered it about 10 years ago. I love this game even without the dial on the original cabinet. You can get around it in emulation by using twin-stick aiming controls or holding down a button while tapping a direction to change the aim. A lot of people seem to hate this, but I don't mind. The game isn't like Robotron where you need to constantly be shooting in different directions, so I think the other control options work fine. It's a slower-paced game. There can only be six enemies on the screen at the same time and sometimes even one enemy can be difficult to take out which is actually an aspect that I like. Not every shooting game needs a ton of enemies swarming the player.

    3. Mr. Do! - For decades, I thought this was just an inferior clone of Dig Dug. I finally sat down and played it seriously a few years ago and discovered I was soooo very wrong. The mechanics are much more interesting with multiple ways of completing a level. The method for getting extra lives provides a nice risk-reward dynamic and I find that all the mechanics and enemies/obstacles mesh well together and can provide some cool moments.

    4. Rescue - Robotron is probably objectively better (an is in my top 10), but this twin-stick shooter edges it out for me. It might be a bit frustrating, but I like how the helicopters can still kill you while crashing and you can accidentally kill the people parachuting if you run into them. Another game that manages to be frantic while there only being a few enemies in play at any one time. Unfortunately, in emulation, the bullets are smaller than on the cabinet and it can be difficult to make them out.

    5. This spot is difficult to choose. It's between BurgerTime (the faster USA version), Pengo, and Bagman. Bagman has so many issues, mainly the unforgiving timer, but there is just something about it that keeps bringing me back.

    1. Thanks for sharing! I played Wild Western for the first time recently and enjoyed it, too. I notice these are all at the tail end of the Golden Age. Is that when you most frequented arcades?

    2. No. During the early to mid 80s, I only got to play an arcade game like 3 times total - just Pac-Man and Galaga - those are the only ones I remember playing. I didn't start frequenting the arcades until I was older - around 1989.

      I didn't get into the Golden Age games until around 10 years ago and I went from preferring the early 90s games to preferring the early 80s games. I'm not sure why I have a lot of favorite games from the late Golden Age. 1982 seems to be the magic year for me. I guess I just prefer the game-design-philosophies/style-of-gameplay that were prominent at that time.


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