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Arcade Games

Early 1950s fore-runners of arcade games included photo booths which became a national craze and shuffle games which moved beyond bowling with Deluxe Shuffle Targette.


Meanwhile, Auto Test let practising drivers learn the rules of the road, and Two-Player Basketball put a new one-on-one spin on the old Basketball Champ formula.

And for the smallest tykes, Peppy the Clown or his old pal Bimbo could dance your cares away.

If action was more your style, Bazaar and Hayburners II gave a few new reasons to play pinball machines. Little Pro and Mini Golf brought the links to the arcade, helicopter games tested your piloting skills, while quiz games gave the brainiacs a challenge of their own.

And if you needed a little extra cash, you could take a trip to Penny Falls or one of many other coin-pushing challenges.

The era of the video arcade game was ushered in with Computer Space in 1971, but few really noticed. Pong righted that wrong the following year, and a phenomenon was born.


Games like Tank, Gun Fight, Breakout and Sea Wolf proved that video games were no flash in the pan, but Space Invaders took the craze to a galactic new level.

In 1978 the Midway Company in the USA imported Space Invaders from Japan – The game quickly became the hottest arcade game in the country, and eventually the world.

Video Arcades in the US raked in five billion dollars in 1981, their highest revenues to date.

Meanwhile, in the non-video world, a hockey fan turned his passion into a year-round sport with Air Hockey, and Whac-A-Mole let players work out life’s little frustrations with a padded mallet.

The Who‘s Pinball Wizard launched a new Pinball craze, as celebrities from The Harlem Globetrotters to KISS graced the machines’ back glass and playfields.

But by the end of the decade, video was clearly the new king, and Asteroids (pictured above left) wore the crown.

The entire world got a major case of Pac-Man fever, and video games had their first true superstar.


Video took the arcade into a new golden age, riding on the shoulders of giants like Donkey Kong, Defender, Centipede, Frogger, Galaga, Q*bert and Pac-Man‘s little lady, Ms Pac-Man.

If the video cabinets were booked solid for the next few hours, the arcade still had plenty to offer: the bubble hockey of Chexx, pinball greats like Black Knight, Haunted House and more.

The arcade took a tumble with the great video game market crash in 1984, but hits like Gauntlet and Rampage showed the way back while the hard-hitting punches of Double Dragon and Final Fight pointed to the wave of the future.