Some games evolve into instant classics, and those of us who were born prior to the release of the Commodore 64 will feel nostalgia for the kinds of video games that we played back then. Many of the games started out as huge, arcade consoles with dim displays, and later migrated to the first PCs that made their way into homes – Atari, ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, and Amstrad CPC – via clunky cartridge or cassette interfaces, and seemingly endless load times. For all of their limitations, these games have been enjoyed for decades and have often been reinvented for later generations, proving their enduring appeal.

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Top 5 Retro Computer Games

1. Pac Man

The most recognisable character is the moving yellow mouth of Pac-Man, who started out as a Japanese arcade game, manufactured by Namco. Pac-Man’s background was a two-dimensional gaming maze through which the little yellow mouth was guided by joystick, gobbling up morsels of food and power pellets, while avoiding the four ghosts who roam the maze. From arcades it was swiftly adopted by computer manufacturers as an early PC game and remains in circulation over thirty years after its creation.

2. Space Invaders

Space Invaders is probably the oldest shooting game still in circulation. Like Pac-Man it started out as an arcade cabinet game, with a two-dimensional background upon which ranks of alien spacecraft descended upon a lone gun position, and the objective was to blast them out of the sky. The gunner’s only protection was four reinforced bunkers that provided cover from the aliens in between shots. Later available on Nintendo and Atari, this game is now in its 34th year of production, with many guest appearances in other games platforms.

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3. Tetris

Unusually, Tetris originated in the USSR back in 1984, and became a favourite of users of the first-generation Nintendo Gameboy, which appeared in 1989. The Gameboy’s LCD screen was ideal for this geometric tile building game, although limited battery life often frustrated attempts to gain a high score. Remarkably, Tetris is still in production, and can be found as a standard feature in many modern devices such as iPods.

4. Super Mario

Super Mario holds an affectionate place in the hearts of many gamers, as it was one of the first console games available in full colour. With improved graphics and a variety of scenarios in later versions of the game, the plucky Italian plumbers Mario and Luigi compete against their enemies for a power mushroom. Built for the Nintendo Entertainment System, the game later evolved for all later Nintendo systems up to the Wii. New versions have been introduced almost annually since 1985 and the public appetite for Super Mario Bros shows no sign of slowing down.

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5. Street Fighter

Street Fighter, released in 1987, was the earliest first-person fighting game, and with its amazing graphics and bright colours it soon became an essential feature of PlayStation and Xbox. Like Super Mario it also inspired a Hollywood film. Successive versions of the game remain in production to this day.

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