THE BEST 50 GAMES OF THE 1980s
At the beginning of the 1980s, videogames were about simple arcade affairs or bleeping, wood-veneered consoles, By its end, the world had moved onto Super Nintendo, 32-bit Amiga and complex, character-based, multi-genre entertainment behemoths. Here we celebrate the 50 games that we feel still stand as game design masterpieces.
You will disagree with our list. We already know that, because we sent out early draft versions to our closest friends – game designers, journaists and publishing execs – and they all disagreed with us.
We listened to them and we argued and we negotiated and wheedled until the final list represented the world view of all of us here at Next-Gen, and of some of our friends in the biz. But not one of us – not one single person involved – agrees with every game on this list, or thinks it’s in exactly the right order, or does not harbor at least one game they really think should be on this list. Not even me, and I’ve spent the last three months working on this, not to mention the last 30 years playing games or writing about them.
Some of these games are fun to play, even today, and some of them have been vastly surpassed in the intervening years by smoother, better-looking games that took what was there and improved. That’s what games designers do. Our criteria here is not ‘how do these games stack up against the games we make and play today’. Our criteria is ‘which games of the 1980s do we owe the greatest debt to because they innovated so much at the time, and because they represent all that is best about original game design’.
It’s also, ‘which games do we remember most fondly’ and, in this regard, we are aware that you will have an entirely different perspective. Nostalgia is a troublesome thing. We cannot possibly represent everyone’s golden memories of an entire decade, nor should we try.
But we know you like to have your say. We’ll be running a follow-up feature called The Ones You Think We Missed, in which you’ll have an opportunity to say your piece and boost the titles you believe are more deserving than the ones we picked. It’s possible we forgot your favored title, though probable that we just didn’t feel that it merited a place. Trust us; we spent a lot of time talking about this stuff . Email us here.
YOU CAN ENJOY THE TOP TEN GAMES FROM THE 1980S IN VIDEO FORM, HERE. OUR SISTER SITE GLOOB HAS PROVIDED VIDEO LINKS.
Note on platforms: When it comes to formats each game was released on we’ve generally only listed those released in the 1980s, so if an Amiga version arrived in 1991, for example, or an XBox 360 in 2006, then it’s not mentioned. In those cases we’ve occasionally mentioned them in the text if this subsequent release was important in some way.
Also published on this site is Edge’s Top 100 Games Of All Time, which remains our most highly trafficked article.