HomeNews & LifestylePop CultureAwesome Vintage Arcade Games and Where to Play Them

Awesome Vintage Arcade Games and Where to Play Them

You can only play Big Buck Hunter so many times, said no one ever. But just in case you want to take a break from shooting deer and are looking for some retro, ‘still got it,’ game action, have a look back at some of these favourites before you hit some local hangouts to play them.


The very first sports arcade video game hardly looks like a sport now, but in 1972 when it was first released, it brought table tennis – and the popularity of arcade games – to a new level. Best: The six page owner’s manual only includes a few paragraphs about how to actually play the game.

These commercials look older than the moon landing footage, but…not quite.

Space Invaders

In 1978, Space Invaders is what a shooting game looked like – if your eyes didn’t go blurry from playing. Space Invaders brought in more than four billion quarters ($1 billion) by mid-1981, making it a highly influential game at that time. The only thing more endearing than the much-loved alien design, is the mystery ship warning music.


This iconic game was launched in October 1980, but has remained popular for decades. It wasn’t a sports game, it wasn’t a shooter game, and instead launched a maze genre with the first original gaming mascot. Pac-Man also became a board game, cartoon, card game, inspired a hit song and has been featured just this past August as part of Donald Trump’s election campaign and in the promotional videos for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Donkey Kong

It was on like Donkey Kong in 1981 when the big ape came to screens – bringing the first appearance of Mario along with him. Like Pac-Man, Donkey Kong would end up with his own TV show, but also a variety of genres – like Donkey Konga (rhythm game) Diddy Kong Racing (racing game) and Donkey Kong Jr. Math (edutainment, for some reason). Universal Studios sued Nintendo when Donkey Kong was first released, saying it too closely resembled King Kong. Nintendo won, and Donkey Kong remains a popular character.


Released in 1982, Joust was one of the first games to invite a cooperative Player 2 to the game. Players are knights riding flying ostriches, defending themselves against enemy knights riding buzzards. The game creators were concerned the game would be a flop, but players ate it up. Oh, the eighties.


Clearly, 1982 was the year for bizarre games. If your parents weren’t wondering why you were flying battling ostriches, they had to have questions about whatever was happening with Q*Bert. Q*Bert too, had an animated television show and plenty of merchandise, despite his penchant for swearing. The game was lauded in reviews, with critics praising it for being interesting and unique, and having a variety of sound effects and vibrant colours. See for yourself:


In 1984, Russian game designer Alexey Pajitnov brought us Tetris, a game studied for it’s effect on increased brain function and activity. It’s believed to be one of the most addictive games of all times. Because it’s been translated to more than 65 different computer game platforms, Tetris is noted by the Guinness World Records to be the ‘most ported’ in the history of video gaming. A film adaptation of Tetris with an $80 million budget will be shot in 2017. The plot might be weird, but as long as it’s not three hours of this, we’re good:

Bubble Bobble

Bubble Bobble was released in 1986, an addictive 100-level game with dragon characters and special items to enhance speed, or jump higher or blow power bubbles. Bubble Bobble was one of the first games to have multiple endings. Didn’t know that? Back to the game!

Play like in the ’80’s:

Some bars rotate games – call ahead if you’re looking for something specific).


The Get Well | 1181 Dundas Street West

Play: Dig Dug, Double Dragon, four-player Simpsons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Star Wars, Super Mario Bros, Ms. Pac Man, Tetris, Centipede


Unlovable | 1415-b Dundas Street West

A photo posted by Danny Christ (@dannychrist) on

Play: Star Wars pinball, tabletop 1942, Burger time, Frogger, Ms Pac-Man


Junction City Music Hall | 2907 Dundas Street West

A photo posted by Andrea Whyte (@andreawhyte) on

Play: Four stand up arcade machines, including Streetfighter, X-Men, Ninja Turtles in Time, Bubble Bobble, Paperboy and the Simpsons


Nightowl | 647 College Street

Play: Foosball, Time Crisis, Big Buck Hunter (rotates every few months based on requests from customers)


The Greater Good | 229 Geary Ave

Play: Tapper, Tempest, Toobin’, Outrun – plus Skee Ball

More of a pinhead? An Indie fan and eternal pyjama wearer at 3030 (3030 Dundas Street West) said they’ve got six pinball machines, and also recommends Junction City Music Hall, Cabin Fever (1669 Bloor Street West) and the May bar (876 Dundas Street W) ready for pinball wizards.


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