The Best Arcade Games of All Time | TheReviewGeek Recommends

There are a lot of video games out there and in this day and age of mobile and home-based gaming, the choices have never been greater. So how do you cut through the noise and find the “Best of” for any chosen topic? Well, we’re here to help celebrate and shine a spotlight on some of the latest, greatest and unforgettable games through the years.

For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best video games, our attention this time turns to the best arcade games of all time. From adrenaline boosters like Pac-Man to competitive fighting games like Street Fighter II, there are many stellar choices to whet your appetite.

Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below, and we’ll get them added on!


Even if one’s not a hardcore gamer, they’ll at least have heard of Pac-Man. Remarked as Bandai Namco’s beloved mascot, Pac-Man offers exhilarating and tense gameplay that everyone can play. Pac-Man and his ghostly enemies are iconic and give off nostalgic energy to those who loved playing games in the 80s’.

The power pellet and life system in this game still hold up well. It allows the game to feel easy to play, but difficult to master, as ghosts will gradually increase their speed to take Pac-Man down. This aspect of the game gives it its charming personality and allows players to develop strategies mid-gameplay.

In some regard, it’s a title that boosts one’s cognitive skills and perceptive capabilities. The victory animations are quite adorable. Seeing Pac-Man chomp his way across the screen with each victory feels gratifying. This is due to the fact that you’ll develop a heated rivalry with the ghosts, as you’ll find yourself dying to them a few times.

Therefore, Pac-Man is a timeless classic that everyone should play. You’ll mostly see this arcade title appear in restaurants like Dave & Busters and others. So, if you ever stumble upon a Pac-Man machine, consider giving it a try.

Street Fighter II

Street Fighter II was once the best-selling fighting game of all time. Unfortunately, the game lost its title reign to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate a few years ago. However, many fighting game enthusiasts still regard it as the best for many reasons. With its incredible characters, mesmerizing graphics at the time, and iconic soundtrack, who could blame them.

It drew many people to amusement parks, each with the goal of taking down their friends and flaunting their achievements in front of others. The game introduced iconic personalities like Chun-Li and Guile into the mix. The former is best known for being the “Queen of Fighting Games” while the latter went on to have one of the best character themes of all time.

These two represented Street Fighter’s debut of international characters. Based on how popular these characters are compared to Ryu, it was a great choice on their part. Not only that, but the character’s themed stages were also oozing in personality. Fans treat them like extra characters with how much detail the Street Fighter II development team put into their designs.

Space Invaders

Space Invaders was another classic arcade title that shared the spotlight with Pac-Man. While it hasn’t received as praise as Pac-Man during this modern era of gaming, it’s a game many people stumble across in restaurants or arcades.

Space Invaders’ gameplay is simple, but a marvel at the time. It involves you piloting a laser cannon and shooting at columns of enemies as shimmy their way toward you. The aliens also shoot at you, but thankfully you’ll be given some means of blocking their attacks via blockades.

The game gradually increases the alien’s speed as you progress through each level. This adds tension to the match which challenges you to keep your guard up at all costs. However, as a bonus, the game sometimes depicts the aliens deploying a large spaceship. Defeating said spaceship allows the players to generate many points.

Although it may be a relic of its time, Space Invaders remains a cult classic in eyes of retro gamers.

Donkey Kong

Donkey Kong saw the debut of the iconic ape of the same name, Jump Man who eventually became Mario, and his friend, Pauline. All three of them would end up becoming close allies in future spin-off titles. However, back in the Donkey Kong days, he and Mario were enemies.

Donkey Kong has a rather simple premise and gameplay loop. The premise involves Jump Man needing to rescue Pauline from Donkey Kong. To do so, you must climb ladders to reach Donkey Kong. By doing so, Donkey Kong will head to the next few levels until he eventually plummets to his demise.

However, this is no easy task as Donkey Kong will throw barrels at you. You’ll also encounter other hurdles regarding sentient flames. Jump Man also can’t jump from high platforms in this game, so he’s very prone to damage. Nonetheless, it’s a game that requires quick reflexes, thinking, and proper timing.


Frogger is a hilarious arcade title with a strong emphasis on proper timing and fast-paced maneuverability. Essentially, you’ll take control of a small frog named Frogger. As Frogger, you must navigate past violent and passive obstacles to reach the home base depicted at the top of the screen.

During said exploration, you’ll encounter obstacles ranging from incoming vehicles, dangerous rivers, and otters and snakes who’ll want to feast on you. The game’s difficulty gradually increases as you progress. It allows for the game to feel tense and thrilling.

The movement options in the arcade game are rather slow. This is because the game wants to test your cognitive skills and patience. You’ll walk away from each game feeling like you’ve increased in these said areas. It’s a quirky title filled with nostalgia. If you happen to come across a Frogger arcade cabinet, put a quarter in, and dive in!

Dig Dug

Dig Dug is another one of Namco Bandai’s best arcade characters. Its concept is strange, but the gameplay is generally fun. As Dig Dug, you’ll be placed in an underground playing field filled with rocks and monsters. You must eliminate all the monsters present by inflating them with your harpoon gun or crushing them via rocks.

Furthermore, Dig Dug can dig numerous tunnels underground that can connect. Many players adore digging tunnels underneath their foes to allow them to fall right to their demise. The game offers many different ways to subdue your enemies. These grants players ways to craft unique experiences with the title.

Be warned as the enemies you’ll encounter will become strong with each level you complete. Nevertheless, if you have great coordination skills and are looking for a game that’s more laid-back in areas, check out Dig Dug.


Rampage is a classic arcade game of monstrous proportions. This game was inspired by many different creatures from classic monster flicks like King Kong and others. The gameplay is simple but invigorating. The graphics, at the time, were also mesmerizing and nice to look at.

Rampage allows you to take control of one of the three monsters. The three monsters are a giant gorilla named George, a reptile named Lizzie, and a large bipedal wolf named Ralph. Each monster has its own unique reasons for existing, which allows its world to stand apart from the films it references.

Back to the gameplay, as either Ralph, George, or Lizzie, you must destroy the entire city on screen. However, the military will be shooting and attacking you at all times. Although you get to play as a big hulking monster, this gameplay mechanic gives the game its difficulty. While it starts simple, it gradually increases with bigger buildings to destroy and larger enemies to worry about.

Mortal Kombat

Mortal Kombat is a recognizable fighting game franchise. Every fighting game fan you’ll meet will acknowledge the title for its gruesome action, interesting cast, and semi-realistic imagery. This game revolutionized the maturity of the genre and gained quite the reception for itself.

The arcade version of Mortal Kombat especially got a rise in parents. No one wanted their child to see a man rip out an organ, limb, or skeleton from another’s person body. Therefore, the game sought extreme backlash with many wanting the game to be banned. Unfortunately for them, this only increased Mortal Kombat’s popularity immensely.

The game itself is simple in controls. You can punch, kick, jump, and move across the screen by moving your control stick left or right. It also featured more complex controls regarding the characters’ special attacks. These attacks require you to input special commands. The special attacks, at the time, looked mesmerizing and cool.

The most-beloved aspect of Mortal Kombat is its handling of final attacks (Fatalities). These Fatalities were beyond gruesome for their time and always left an impact on anyone who saw them. With its fatalities and controversies, Mortal Kombat is one of the best arcade fighting games.


Punch-Out!! is a single-player boxing game that sought the collaboration between Nintendo and famed boxer Mike Tyson. It’s a boxing game that challenges players to deliver well-timed attacks, dodges, and finishing blows. In some regards, it acts like a rhythm game but on the surface, it’s a colorful fighting game.

Punch-Out!! introduces fans to the lower-class boxer, Little Mac, and his trainer Doc Louis. Players guide Little Max through several boxing leagues, each sporting an array of challengers and a champion. Every character feels different to fight, and you’ll need to come up with strategies for each fighter you face.

The difficulty in the game increases with each fight. Sometimes you’ll lose. Other times, you may win. It’s a simple and repetitive process that manages to work. If you’re up for an incredible time, check out Punch-Out!!

Super Mario Bros.

Super Mario Bros. is one of the most influential video games of its time. It brought wonder and delight to many people and introduced many children to Nintendo’s incredible mascot, Mario. The game offers many peculiar enemies and obstacles for you to overcome. It also serves as the debut for Mario’s well-known power-up the Fire Flower.

If you somehow haven’t played Super Mario Bros., you take control of the plumber Mario who must save Princess Toadstool (Peach) from the evil villain, King Koopa (Bowser). To do so, you must guide Mario past 8 different levels. Each level is designed with different challenges, themes, and obstacles for you to overcome.

As one of gaming’s first platformer titles, you must hope over bricks, pitfalls, and enemies if you’re planning on saving Peach. The levels are also jam-packed with incredible shortcuts, Easter eggs, and mysterious phenomena that’ll allow you to complete your mission quicker.

So, there we have it, our picks for the best arcade games of all time!

What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!

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