The 5 best retro arcade games of all time

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Video games have a long and complex history, one that is drenched in nostalgia for many a gamer. Chances are that most of us spent significant portions of our childhoods immersed in the adventures of Link, Spyro, Lara Croft and all the rest. But before we met our favourite heroes, before we even touched our first gaming consoles, there were the flashing lights and inexplicable pull of the arcade. 

Whether it was begging your parents for change to have a go on the run-down machines at the corner of your local takeaway or spending a few hours trying to beat your best friend at Mortal Kombat after school, there's just something about the arcade that rings of childhood. Today we have a range of flashy new games, but the classics are still unbeatable. Let's take a trip down Memory Lane with this list of the five best retro arcade games of all time.

5) Donkey Kong

The game that first introduced us to Mario, the premise of the game was simple: help Mario save Pauline (his lady before Princess Peach) from Donkey Kong by navigating a ladder puzzle and dodging the obstacles placed in your path. Paving the way for the Super Mario world as we know it today, Donkey Kong was a fun game that introduced us to two of the world's most beloved characters. 

4) Time Crisis

Time Crisis was a series that truly utilised the arcade space and medium. Light guns are used instead of controllers, allowing players a vastly different gaming experience from what they would have had at home or on their consoles. Combine this with a thrilling story line and memorable characters and you've got a recipe for a memorable moment in gaming history. 

3) Street Fighter 

Fighting games hold an important place in the hearts of arcade-goers. From Mortal Kombat to the Tekken series, everyone has their favourite, but no game has been more iconic than that of Street Fighter. Street Fighter II, in particular, heralded the beginning of the arcade fighting genre, with many of the game's styles and innovations present in modern virtual fighting iterations. 

2) Galaga

Similar to Space Invaders, Galaga involved the player shooting a horde of never-ending space aliens. This game was special as it deviated from its predecessors in a number of ways, including colour and graphics. Particularly cool was that the enemy could capture the player's ships but freeing them doubled power.

1) Pac-Man

There was only ever going to be one winner of this list. Pac-Man is practically synonymous with arcade gaming and is arguably one of the forefathers of the gaming industry as a whole. Players had to lead Pacman as it ate its way through a series of mazes that grew more complicated with each level, avoiding the ghosts as it went. Charming, straightforward and quirky. 

It was a simpler time. 

Image Source: Fllickr user Sam Howzit