Donkey Kong

This was one of my ultimate favorites to play as a kid. The game was groundbreaking for its time and featured an ape, a damsel in distress and an Italian plumber playing out a wacky storyline. Mario, a carpenter, runs up platforms and climbs ladders at a construction site while the ape named Donkey Kong throws barrels at him. Mario must also dodge fire and other obstacles to get to the top of the platforms and rescue the damsel being held by the grouchy Donkey Kong. Mario became Nintendo’s flagship character and spawned several different game sequels. Nintendo originally wanted to make a Popeye comics game but could not get a license for him. They decided to develop their own characters and created a love triangle between an ape, a carpenter, and a girlfriend, that was similar to the love triangle between Popeye, Bluto, and Olive Oyl. Donkey Kong was created in 1981 and sold 132,000 hardware units and generated $280 million through 1982.

Space Invaders

This is probably one of the most addictive games I have ever played. When it eventually came out on Atari 2600, my friends and I would play it for hours on end. The game consists of a laser canon at the bottom of the screen that moves from side to side while you shoot at waves of approaching alien invaders. After shooting the first wave of aliens, the remaining ones begin to approach much faster. Soon the aliens begin firing back and there are bunkers you can move beneath to avoid their fire. Eventually the bunkers are destroyed by the aliens firing at them which make the game all the more challenging. The sound effects are eerily exciting as you play. Although this game was released in 1978, we decided to include it in this list because of its impact on the video gaming industry. It was so advanced for its time and was almost solely responsible for expanding the video game industry from a novelty to a global industry. It sold 360,000 hardware units and generated $2.7 billion in gross revenues.

Pac-Man

This was the grandaddy of them all! What made Pac-Man so popular was its appeal to both genders. While many of the early games involved space and aliens, Pac-Man was a game almost anyone could enjoy regardless of what their interests were. It was basically the same concept as Ms. Pac-Man except it was released before her. The object was to eat all the pellets and avoid the ghosts to score as many points as possible. The ghost’s movements are preset and were given their own distinct personalities to help keep the game interesting. The red ghost chases Pac-Man and the pink and blue ghosts try to get in front of Pac-Man. The orange ghost, Clyde, chases Pac-Man but moves towards the lower left corner of the screen when it gets too close to him. The game has 255 levels but a bug in the programming keeps you from going past that. Pac-Man is one of the highest grossing games of all time. It boasts 400,000 hardware units sold with gross revenues of $3.5 billion!