History of video games/Golden age of arcade games

Important arcade games




Pong is widely credited with sparking public interest in arcade games, and by extension the golden age of arcade games.

For information on Pong, please read its dedicated section in this book.

Wild Gunman


Wild Gunman was an early arcade game made by Nintendo in 1974 with Gunpei Yokoi as a designer.[1][2] The Wild Gunman arcade machine used prerecorded video and a light gun to create a wild west experience.[1] The game was released in North America in 1976 through a partnership with Sega.[2][3]

Space Invaders


Space Invaders was released in 1978 by Taito to critical success[4]. The development of Space Invaders was unorthodox for the time, because its designer Tomohiro Nishikado treated the game as more of a software project than a hardware project, and pushed the limits of the medium[5].

The inability of the computer to render all sprites at once without slowdown lead to desirable features kept in the game, namely a satisfying adaptive difficulty where enemies got faster when the player did well, and music that got faster as the game got faster.[6] Space Invaders is often credited with popularizing, though not inventing, high scores and leaderboards.[6][5] The original arcade cabinet uses a cellophane overlay to add color to it's normally monochrome graphics.[7]

Space Invaders would highly influence a number of notable developers, including Shigeru Miyamoto, John Carmack, Hideo Kojima, and John Romero[5].

In 1980, Space Invaders was successfully ported to the Atari 2600 (the first arcade game to receive a home port) by Atari, Inc. programmer Rick Maurer, becoming the first video game to sell over a million copies (six millions by 1984). This version was the one used during the first esports event, The Space Invaders Tournament, held by Atari in the United States to launch the game in 1980. The tournament was won by Rebecca Heineman, then known as "William Salvador Heineman", who practiced with the game on pirate cartridges made by himself/herself. Heineman would later become a notable games developer.

Numerous other ports, both official and unauthorized, appeared on the consoles and computers markets, as well as various arcade games imitating and improving the game's gameplay.



First launched in Japan on May 22, 1980 as Puck Man by Namco, and then released in the United States of America by Midway Games in October of 1980 as Pac-Man (the name was changed to prevent cabinet defacement) to massive success[8][9] , Toru Iwatani's masterpiece video game soon conquered the video game market. Pac-Man was designed to reach out to demographics that were not being serviced by other arcade games, leading to expanded interest in video games,[10] and also received a great number of console and arcade ports. Pac-Man contains 255 levels (simply due to a bug leading to level 256 being impossible to beat[11]) and has four ghosts chasing Pac-Man - each with their own individual AI[8][12].

Pac-Man was followed by a number of sequels, remakes and reimaginings. The first of those was 1982's Ms. Pac-Man, a Midway-published game developed by General Computer Corporation, derived from their Pac-Man modkit Crazy Otto. Ms. Pac-Man was a noticeably more advanced game, with four different mazes alternating, new ghost AIs, new music, audio and graphics and other enhancements, but ran on the same Namco arcade system as the original Pac-Man. It started a series of Midway-published pinballs and video games using Pac-Man characters, which included Pac-Man Plus (1982), Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man (1982), Baby Pac-Man (1982), Professor Pac-Man (1983) and Jr. Pac-Man (1983). This deliberately unauthorized usage of the Namco assets for the Western market led to an end in the partnership between the two companies.



A sequel of the 1979 Galaxian, Galaga was released in 1981.[13][14] Galaga was quite popular in arcades, and received a number of home ports.[15]

Donkey Kong


Radar Scope was a Space Invaders and Galaxian inspired game released by Nintendo in December 1979.[16] After the failure of Radar Scope in America, a Nintendo employee fairly new to game design, Shigeru Miyamoto worked with a technical team at the firm Ikegami Tsushinki to reuse the failed machines as a new game.[17][16] Since Donkey Kong was based on older Radar Scope arcade game machines, some features like the typeface used remained the same.[18] Shigeru Miyamoto designed Donkey Kong around a jumping mechanic, which he tried to tap into the intrinsic joy of physical activity.[19]

Donkey Kong launched in the United States on June 2nd, 1981 and achieved widespread popularity.[20]



  1. a b "Nintendo's Wild Gunman (1974)". 2 Warps to Neptune. 13 September 2013. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  2. a b Glennon, Jen. "'Wild Gunman': How Nintendo's "baby's toy" changed games forever". Inverse. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  3. "Feature: The Unlikely Story Of Sega And Nintendo's Early Coin-Op Alliance". Nintendo Life. 13 August 2018. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  4. "Space Invaders' Creator Says He Would Have Made It 'Far Easier'". Kotaku. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  5. a b c "Space Invaders at 40: 'I tried soldiers, but shooting people was frowned upon'". the Guardian. 4 June 2018. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  6. a b "6 Fascinating Facts About 'Space Invaders' UNIQLO TODAY UNIQLO US". UNIQLO TODAY UNIQLO US. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  7. "5 things you never knew about Space Invaders". GAME Media. 5 July 2018. Retrieved 3 December 2020.
  8. a b CNN, Jacopo Prisco. "Pac-Man at 40: The eating icon that changed gaming history". CNN. Retrieved 27 November 2020. {{cite web}}: |last1= has generic name (help)
  9. "HISTORY│ The Official Site for PAC-MAN - Video Games & More". HISTORY│ The Official Site for PAC-MAN - Video Games & More. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  10. Delgado, Michelle. "Why Players Around the World Gobbled Up Pac-Man". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  11. Video on YouTube}}
  12. Pac-Man Ghost AI Explained on YouTube.
  13. "Galaga (Namco)". Gaming History 101. 22 March 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  14. "Galaga Web BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc". Galaga Web BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  15. "Galaga Web BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc". Galaga Web BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  16. a b Parish, Jeremy (20 January 2014). "35 Years Ago, Nintendo's First Brush With Video Disaster". USgamer. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  17. "The Secret History of Donkey Kong". www.gamasutra.com. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  18. "STS13: Videogame Typography and its Antecedents". Zach Whalen. 8 March 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  19. "Shigeru Miyamoto Shares Nintendo Secrets". Rolling Stone. 8 April 2013. https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-lists/shigeru-miyamoto-shares-nintendo-secrets-19215/a-star-is-born-178703/. 
  20. "How Donkey Kong and Mario Changed the World". Time. Retrieved 27 November 2020.

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