The arcade has declined over the years, with very few still operating today, but many gamers still have nostalgia for the days of playing those classic arcade games with friends (and sometimes complete strangers.) Here is a list of coin operated arcade games that were not only the most popular and highest grossing arcade games of all time but also the retro games that will be remembered for decades to come.

Space Invaders

space invaders arcade machineWidely considered as the classic arcade game that kickstarted the video gaming industry; Space Invaders was the first video game considered to be a “Blockbuster” when it released in 1978. Space Invaders established the sci-fi shooter genre, and has inspired games like Galaga, Galaxian, and tons of updated ports over the years. Space Invaders has also inspired pop culture, even meeting the mobile game circuit with Space Invaders: Infinity Gene back in 2010.


pac man arcade machinePac-Man has influenced the gaming industry in almost every way imaginable. Starting off as a arcade titan, it was the first video game to have an actual mascot, with Pac-man still being Namco’s mascot for many years afterward. Pac-Man also opened the coin operated arcade games industry to female gamers, with Ms. Pac Man, and the Pac-Man series was also the first to contain cut-scenes. Pac-Man has spawned numerous games, TV Series, spin-offs, and even has been in video game films such as Pixels (which wasn’t well received but should still be noted.)

Mortal Kombat

mortal kombat 2 arcade machineWhile Street Fighter grossed more money than the Mortal Kombat arcade games, Mortal Kombat should be noted on this list due to the fact that it was the video game that prompted the creation of the ESRB as we know it today. Mortal Kombat’s bloody fatality attacks and overall graphic nature resulted in an outcry from the government, leading to stronger regulation on the sale of video games to minors. Despite this, Mortal Kombat has inspired many aspects of the gaming industry today, such as setting a benchmark for violence in games (something that is a common thing nowadays.)

Mortal Kombat has inspired films, spin-off games, and numerous pop-culture references, making it a heavily influential part of gaming culture.


frogger arcade machineFrogger is almost the entire opposite of any retro arcade game on this list, having no real combat involved (or in Pac-man’s case enemies to avoid.) It was one of the first arcade game titles to be free of combat or shooting, merely being a reflex based obstacle avoidance experience. Frogger has spawned numerous re-releases, updates and sequels across platforms over the years, and is still considered a classic gaming experience for all ages.

Donkey Kong

donkey kong arcade machineDonkey Kong laid the foundation for what would be known as the platforming genre, telling a simple story of a man rescuing a young woman from the King Kong-esque Donkey Kong. It also introduced Jumpman, the protagonist who would become Mario, Nintendo’s mascot. Donkey Kong has also starred in sequels, Rhythm Games, and has even been a part of games such as Super Smash Bros and Mario Party, becoming a Nintendo staple.

There you have it, five classic retro arcade games from the era that has made a mark on the video game industry as we know it today. The industry we know and love would be vastly different without these old school games, and so even if you haven’t played on an arcade cabinet before; these classic retro games are still important. Most of them can still be played on various platforms, so if you haven’t had the chance yet, give each of them a go.