1980’s arcade games-Xybots

The first player is “Major Rock Hardy” and  the second player is “Captain Ace Gunn”, but they pretty much look and move the same. You go through this maze fighting robots that get tougher as you go along. Wait, that’s it? Yeah, pretty much. However by 1987 standards these are pretty good graphics and a fairly challenging game to play. I didn’t have the guts to try this one back in the day. I only watched it from a distance. I have played it on a collection in recent years and really like it. However I doubt my quarter would have gotten me very far if I’d try playing it in the arcade back in the late 1980’s.

Robotron 2084

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This is a multi-directional shooter that borrows some ideas from Defender and Bezerk. You control a robot and you have to save humans while destroying bad robots. You have to dodge their lasers and you can’t bump into them either which can be tough as some of them cannot be destroyed so they are there throughout the level. After destroying every foe you can kill the level ends you are transported to another area to start again normally at a faster pace and against more and tougher baddies. The graphics are basic, but effective. The movement is frantic yet challenging. The sound effects are outstanding in my book and really add to the game. A local Rite Aid this game from late 1982 into 1983 and that’s where I played it so many times. It has since been released for various home systems and  I played it there as well. This is likely in my top ten of 1980’s games, a real hectic and addictive game.

80’s arcade games-Star Wars

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This was a first person space simulator game that was released in the spring of 1983. It’s done in 3D but with basic colors. You take on the role of Luke Skywalker in an X wing fighter trying to blow up the Death Star. The control is a steering wheel type device that really adds to the game. You have shields on your ship and they get knocked out as you get hit and lose protection. The game also samples lines by actors from the film. I remember first playing this game shortly after it came out and it was definitely one of my favorite games in 1983. They had it at all of the arcades I went to as well as the bowling alley my dad played at. So I sure pumped some quarters into this one back then. Although I remember at the bowling alley the game was situated near lanes where a lot of the bowlers smoked a lot (yeah it was allowed back then). So I always associate this game with the smell of smoke. I never did get to play it in the sit down version as I never actually saw one. As a fan of the Star Wars movies and racing games like Pole Position and Turbo I really took to this game and actually became pretty decent at it back then.  I have not played this game probably since 1985 but I imagine it has held up well. There was a sequel The Empire strikes back in 1985, but it was largely offered as an upgrade in the same cabinet so businesses who were still making money off the original passed on doing an upgrade. If I were making a list of my top ten arcade games of the 80’s this game would likely make it.

1980’s arcade games-Tempest



So I’m supposed to use this knob to spin around these shapes? Then I blast anything that tries to come out of the shape? Well that sounds just weird. Oh, wait I got one, I have to contain these others. Oh, they are coming faster, let me get them. Hey, this is kind of fun. That was likely my initial take upon playing Tempest for the first time in my local arcade game in 1981-82. I believe “tube shooter” is the category for this type of game although that sounds a little dirty. At times it feels a bit like a 3D Space Invaders, but after a while it becomes it’s own game. The game was made by Atari and was known as Vortex at some point during it’s design stage but they settled on Tempest by the time they released it. The colors and the flashes of the action draw you in. I played this online a few years and liked it almost as much as I did back in the day. This was a staple of early 80’s arcades and if I went there at night I normally had to wait for a turn because there was always someone playing it. The playability and speed outweigh the primitive graphics and have helped this one to be seen as a classic. The game also shows up in the film Night of the comet and in the Rush video for Subdivisions.



8o’s arcade games-Wizard of wor

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Oh, yeah. Who says all maze games have to be about cute little dot grabbing critters? This early 80’s game combined a maze and fantasy elements as well as being a shooter. You have a gun toting guy and try to kill monsters that get faster with each level and some can even turn invisible. It can be played as  one or two player game. If you play as one player the other worrior guy still goes after the monsters as well. It works a lot better when you can play it with a friend because those monsters get fast when they are in there for a long time and it’s to get them when you got three coming it you changing visibility as they go along. I used to play this with a friend at our favorite arcade back around 82-83. The wizard taunts you in his electronic voice as you go along. Today the graphics look very basic and the sound effects are just okay, but it’s still fun and a real challenge. The speed of the game , the open areas and the amount of monsters makes this a tough game. It’s also showed up on collection for newer systems in recent years. I would have loved to have seen a B film adaption of this game as a sort of space age sorcery type blend.


’80 arcade games-Express Raider

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The western video game is one of those sub genres that has been around as long as video games themselves. Yet it’s certainly not as popular as space games or war games. I first saw this game at a pizza place that I only went to a few times in the mid-80’s They had two games a wrestling one with several kids playing it and this one sitting all alone by itself. I gave it a try because it was a video game and I had a quarter burning a hole in my pocket. You are a bank robber, but you will earn the money because the levels are not easy. The first level is a side scrolling fighter. You have to beat up a banker and kick some dogs just to get on the train. Once on it you are trying to get from the caboose to the engine. However each car has a guy on top who is tying to stop you by fighting and throwing junk at you. If that wasn’t mean enough there is a bomb sitting on the coupling between each car and if you can’t defeat the guy in time the bomb goes blooey, the cars unhook and you lose a turn. If you get past this level then you are on horseback in the foreground trying to shoo and defeat guys in the train car. They of course shoot back at you and you have to move your horse or duck down to avoid it. It’s fairly close quarters on this level so you have to be fast to dodge those bullets. If you beat that level then you start over with the same levels becoming more challenging. The game play is similar to another western themed game Iron Horse from Konami which also came out in 1986. For the year it came out the graphics here are quite decent. The game play on the train top level is simplistic and other games would do it better a year or two later, but for the year came out it was a little ahead of where scrolling fighting game were. The shooting level has more graphic shortcoming, but playing wise it’s still a challenge. I wish there had been more levels. This is a Data East game so you can some similarities in play to the previously released Karate Champ and later released games like Sly Spy and Bad Dudes vs. Dragon Ninja would take what was done here and improve upon it. I had almost forgotten about this game until I played it on a collection for the Wii in recent years.


’80’s arcade games-Bad dudes vs. Dragon Ninja




This is a side scrolling fighting-action game that can be for one or two players. President Ronnie has been kidnapped! Oh, dear so muscle shirt wearing Blade and Striker are asked to go and rescue him using their fists, their kicks and any weapons they pick up along the way. You fight a lot of ninjas (duh) and each level has a boss at the end. On the final level you fight all the previous bosses again and the big boss who is trying to escape via helicopter. After each level you complete you get to hear the heroes proclaim “I’m bad!”. The levels include a woods, a cave, a moving  truck and more. There was a diner I’d go to on occasion in the late 80’s to get great milkshakes  and that’s where I first played this game. I never got too good at it then, but I certainly liked it due to the action, the villains and I thought the graphics were pretty good for the time. This game is in a scene in the movie Parenthood with Steve Martin and you see the cabinet of it briefly in Robocop 2. The ninjas kind of remind me of the Foot clan from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This game was probably influenced by Double Dragon, but I prefer Bad Dudes. In recent years I got the Data East collection for the Wii that had this game and a number of others. I played it every so often with my kids and we always enjoy it. I think the game is similar to what action movies were in that time and I am certainly a fan of corny 80’s action flicks so it follows that I would enjoy this game. If anyone knows of why that running flame guy pictured below is in this game from time to time please enlighten me because it makes no sense to me.


1980’s arcade games Spyhunter and Spyhunter 2






Between 1982 and 1985 I would to the bowling alley with my dad. While he did his bowling league thing he gave me a few bucks and I had a few hours to kill and had to decide whether to spend the money on comics, video games or food. Normally video games won out as there was an arcade in the strip mall and the bowling alley had six or seven games as well. The first time I saw Spy Hunter the bowling alley actually had it before the arcade. It was a stand up machine at the less crowded end of the bowling alley. I had recently been on a Turbo kick so I alright with a new driving game. The Peter Gunn theme came on and that was a good start. Wait, I have weapons and I can battle these bad guy cars? Whoaa this is like James Bond only I don’t have to put up with Roger Moore’s smirking face. This was one of the few games where I had to wait in a line at the bowling alley to play it.  When it finally came to the arcade it was a sit down version. Sitting down playing that in the dark and loud arcade was a fantastic experience and not’s like the game needed a lot to elevate it, but it got even better that way. I actually got better at this game the more I played it as well, that didn’t always happen with every game. When I have played it again in recent years I feel like even though the graphics are on it’s time the game has remained very playable and fun.







I actually never played or even saw Spyhunter 2 when it was released and I understand it only received a limited release anyways. I have played it recently as I was excited to see if it lived up to the original. Instead of the flat overhead look of the first it has a semi 3D look kind of like Turbo. Even though it was made in 1987 the roads don’t look of scroll as well as something Pole Position which was made several years earlier. Actually the car doesn’t handle as well as that game either. The car movements are slightly clunky. A simple move to one side looks like you are fishtailing on an icy road. I like the two drivers at once feature. Overall it’s not nearly as fun as the first game. I lost interest in the game pretty quickly, but not every video game sequel was MS. Pac-Man or Donkey Kong Jr.