Of course, it was also the era that video games took hold of pop culture. The arcades thrived, only to dwindle again, and the home market found a pick-me-up from a surprise player, Nintendo. It was a special time.
On that note, we stepped into the time machine to recap 34 awesome things we loved about 80s gaming. You may not remember them all, but it's worth reliving or experiencing for the first time.
Blowing up the Death Star in the Star Wars Arcade Game
Watching the Death Star explode in the original 1977 Star Wars was incredible. Atari somehow replicated that feeling with its arcade game, where you could destroy the battle station on your own terms. KABOOM.
Seeing "The Chase" Cut Scene from Ms. Pac-Man
That Annoying Dog Laughing at You in Duck Hunt
Flying in Super Mario Bros. 3
Beating Mike Tyson in Punch-Out!!
Using the Konami Code to Beat Contra
E.T. Almost Destroys the Video Game Industry with the Infamous Crash
Leave it to Atari and the mega-licensed but poorly produced E.T. the Extra Terrestrial for the Atari 2600 to bring the video game industry crumbling down. In 1983, excessive and unsold copies of the game led to a crippling blow for sales – and the industry didn't recover until 1985 with Nintendo and the NES. How bad was it? Atari reportedly buried the unsold cartridges in New Mexico.
Becoming a World Warrior in Capcom's Street Fighter
Beating Dragon's Lair for the First Time
Back in 1983, Dragon's Lair was quite the innovation, allowing gamers to play through an interactive cartoon. It had its frustrating moments – pushing the joystick the wrong way and leading Dirk the Daring to a hilarious demise – but the true satisfaction came from beating the game and getting that kiss from Princess Daphne. So worth it.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Four-Player Arcade Romps
When Konami introduced the popular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in a four-player beat-em-up, it gained huge success, allowing a group of friends to work together to battle the likes of Shredder, Krang and other foes from the series. The fun continued on the NES a year later with a modified port of the game – although the real fun was playing through it again in 2007 on Xbox Live. Cowabunga!
Discovering that Samus Aran...is a Woman?!
One of the biggest shockers to come out of Nintendo's games in the 80s occurred during the ending sequence for Metroid. After fighting through various rooms and eventually bringing down Mother Brain, you discover that Samus Aran is in fact a kick-ass chick. This was an epic move on Nintendo's part.
Getting Double the Firepower in Galaga
Know what bummed us out the first time we played Galaga? Watching our ship get captured by a snarky alien. Fortunately, we were able to retrieve it by shooting that sucker out of the air, then connecting the captured ship with our current spacecraft for double the firepower. Now that's how you clean up high scores on the challenging stages.
Grabbing a Falling Human in Mid-Air While Playing Defender
Saving humans is a big hassle in Williams' classic arcade game, especially when enemy ships try to pick them up. Luckily, you can blast those ships out of the sky, then come swooping in to grab the human before he or she perishes from the fall. Sorry, aliens, it's just not your day. Image Source
"Thank you, but our princess is in another castle!"
Wait a second. There's a booby-trapped castle that Mario has to get through, and then a monstrous turtle creature guarding the door that needs to be avoided. After defeating him, we go to reap the rewards – and it's just a toad person? It would've been nice to know which castle the Princess was in. Oh wait, world 8-4. Yep, we're there. Image Source
Mario Pulls a Surprise Heel Turn and Becomes the Villain
After playing the 1981 arcade game Donkey Kong, you come to appreciate the character's (originally called Jumpman) heroic deeds. However, then you play Donkey Kong Jr. and realize that Mario has not only captured his nemesis, but also commands an army of evil animals. Thankfully, he would make amends years later – but the scars remain. Image Source
Using the Power Glove and Going to See The Wizard
Mattel's Power Glove controller was – and continues to be – a perplexing device where you use your hand to play certain games. For that matter, Nintendo couldn't help but promote the peripheral with the Fred Savage movie The Wizard – which by the way, advertised Super Mario Bros. 3. It sold well, and continues to be a popular prop, though it still doesn't work as well as we'd like. As for The Wizard, it was a better flick than Super Mario Bros.: The Movie, right? Even with dialogue like, "He touched my breast!" Not to mention Christian Slater.
The First Time You Received the Power Sword in the Legend of Zelda
"It's dangerous to go alone, take this!" After walking into a cave and finding a helpful old man, you're blessed with a powered-up sword that can shoot a beam at enemies with a full charge. The first time using it, we couldn't help but feel like we had all the power in the world – even if the Triforce was just outside our reach.
After spending years with the Nintendo Entertainment System and Sega Master System, we thought gaming couldn't get any better. In 1989, the Sega Genesis came along and changed that, with faithful ports of such arcade games as Altered Beast, Ghouls n' Ghosts and more – but for home play! It would lead to an infamous 16-bit war in the early 90s that changed the game industry.
To see the rest of the list, head over to Prima Games.