The top 10 video games from 1980

Stuart Sumner
clock • 11 min read

Join Computing on this trek into the verdant pastures of a burgeoning video games industry, as we remember the best games of the '80s. In this first feature, we start where it all began in 1980 itself

1. Pac-Man

One of the most iconic, recogniseable and seminal games of all-time, Pac-Man sprang into life in Arcade cabinets in Japan in May 1980. Released by Namco (one of its first ever video games - the firm previously specialised in mechanical kiddie rides) , and created by Japanese video game designed Toru Iwatani, it has become a cultural phenomenon, spawning mountains of merchandise, TV series and even a hit single (Pac-Man Fever).

Interestingly, the game was supposed to be infinite - as long as the player has lives left, the game should continue increasing levels and ghost speed indefinitely. However a bug at level 255 makes this impossible, with the 256th level appearing with a jumble of nonsense characters on the right-hand side of the screen.

Whilst this level isn't passable, it is possible to eat half of the dots and kill the ghosts, so the maximum possible score in the game includes some nifty work on this corrupted screen. The first person ever to achieve this maximum score (3,333,360 points no less) was Billy Mitchell of Hollywood, Florida. It took him over six hours, which is either a triumph of patience and skill, or a colossal waste of time depending on your disposition.

Since then the same score has been achieved many times, in increasingly faster times, the record currently being three hours, 28 minutes and 49 seconds, just in case you fancy giving it a whirl yourself.

Pac-Man was treated to an initially unexcited response in its native Japan, as it was viewed as a poor alternative to Space Invaders, the most popular arcade game of the time. However it took off in North America, and then conquered the world.

And that concludes our stroll through 1980. Stay tuned for the top games of 1981, coming soon!

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