The greatest arcade games of the '80s

poll Pac-Man or Space Invaders? Frogger, maybe? Cast your vote for which game was the best of that bygone era.

CNET staff
3 min read


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Imagine you have a time machine, a pocket full of quarters and a Walkman with Bob Seger and Rod Stewart cassettes (OK, you can bring your own). Your mission is to travel back to the '80s, the golden age of arcade games, and play your favorite one.

Which would you pick?

From the launch of Space Invaders in 1978 until home game consoles became popular in the mid-'90s, arcades, pizza parlors and bars were the center of the electronic gaming world. The arcade machines may be forgotten, but the classic games keep coming back for another ride on a new console. This past week, for instance, saw the crowning of a Pac-Man world champion and the release of a new, next-generation version of the game.

Please vote for your favorite arcade game of the 1980s (right) and click to see the current results of the poll. Then, check back later to see if others agree.

Need to jog your memory? Check out this gallery of the classic games of the 1980s. Below are thumbnails and summaries from the newer versions of the original games. The photo credits and review ratings are courtesy of GameSpot (GameSpot is a division of CNET Networks, publisher of News.com).



A 1998 version of Asteroids for PlayStation was so cool you could actually shoot at realistic-looking space rocks. GameSpot rated it 7.0 out of 10.

Vote for Asteroids in our poll at the right.


A version of Centipede was released for the PC in 1998. GameSpot liked it and gave it a 6.9 rating.

Vote for Centipede in our poll at the right.

Donkey Kong

Nintendo's Donkey Kong returned this year with a version for the Wii. But GameSpot threw the barrel over Niagara Falls with a 4.6 rating.

Vote for Donkey Kong in our poll at the top right.

Dragon's Lair

Dragon's Lair

Vote for Dragon's Lair in our poll at the top right.



Vote for Frogger in our poll at the top right.

Mario Bros.

Vote for Mario Bros. in our poll at the top right.


One of the all-time greats, Pac-Man was most recently added to the list of Xbox 360 games this month. GameSpot gave it 7.9.

Vote for Pac-Man in our poll at the top right.

Pole Position

Vote for Pole Position in our poll at the top right.

Space Invaders

The original Space Invaders made a return trip in 1999 on the Nintendo 64. It bombed--GameSpot gave it a 3.3 rating.

Vote for Space Invaders in our poll at the top right.



Vote for Tron in our poll at the top right.

News.com poll

What is your favorite arcade game
of the 1980s?

Asteroids Centipede Donkey Kong Dragon's Lair Frogger Mario Bros. Pac-Man Pole Position Space Invaders Tron

View results


First 'Pac-Man' world champion crowned
Namco Bandai and Microsoft host an international championship event for the classic game..June 5, 2007

Pac-Man Championship Edition
See the first set of new 'Pac-Man' mazes to come out since the original game was introduced 26 years ago. June 5, 2007

Most important games of all time
Educators and gamers came up with a list of the 10 most important video games of all time. March 17, 2007


Editor: Andy Smith
Design: Alex Samlihan
Production: Jessica Kashiwabara