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Atari played a fundamental role in the history of video games, laying the foundations for the modern industry and bringing gaming into the mainstream. With that in mind, let’s take a look back at the greatest Atari games of all time.

With the launch of the Atari 2600 in 1977, gaming ceased to be exclusively a niche for enthusiasts and became a widely accessible form of entertainment for millions of people around the world.

The success of emblematic titles helped consolidate Atari’s position as market leader and paved the way for what followed, until we reached video games as we know them today. Embark on this nostalgic journey with us and read on!

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Greatest Atari games of all time

1 – Pac-Man (1980)

A timeless classic, famous all over the world. Pac-Man is one of the greatest Atari games of all time. The player controls the unmistakable round yellow creature with a big mouth, who must travel through a maze eating dots and avoiding ghosts. The aim is to clear each stage, eating all the dots while avoiding being captured by the ghosts.

2 – Space Invaders (1978)

Space Invaders is one of the first and most influential space shooters. In the game, you control a spaceship that has to shoot and destroy hordes of invading aliens that are gradually descending towards Earth. The aim is to avoid being hit by the invaders’ shots and destroy as many of them as possible to earn points.

3 – Pitfall! (1982)

The game follows the adventures of an explorer called Pitfall Harry, who must traverse a jungle full of dangers such as pits, crocodiles and snakes, while collecting treasures. The player must run, jump and swing on lianas to avoid obstacles and reach as many treasures as possible within the time limit.

4 – Asteroids (1979)

Asteroids is one of the most famous and influential arcade games in history. Basically, it puts the player in control of a spaceship that must destroy asteroids and alien ships while avoiding collisions. As the player destroys asteroids, they break up into smaller pieces, increasing the difficulty of the game.

5 – Missile Command (1980)

Missile Command is a classic defense game developed by Atari and released in 1980. The game puts the player in control of a missile battery that must defend six fictional cities from a nuclear missile attack. The player must use missiles to intercept the enemy missiles before they hit the cities.

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6 – Breakout (1976)

In this classic, the player controls a bar at the bottom of the screen which bounces a ball to destroy a brick wall at the top. The aim is to clear all the bricks without letting the ball fall. Breakout was a commercial success and has inspired countless variations over the years.

7 – Centipede (1981)

In Centipede, the player controls a cannon that can move horizontally at the bottom of the screen, firing at descending centipedes, spiders, scorpions and other insects. The aim is to destroy the centipede that snakes across the screen while avoiding being hit by enemies.

8 – Pong (1972)

Pong is one of the greatest Atari games of all time, often considered the first commercially successful arcade game. It simulates a game of table tennis, where players control palettes to hit a ball from one side of the screen to the other. The game helped establish video games as a popular form of entertainment and inspired countless clones and variants.

9 – Defender (1981)

Defender is a horizontally scrolling shooter in which you control a spaceship that must defend a series of cities from an alien invasion. The game is known for its challenging and fast-paced gameplay, as well as its innovative mechanics, such as the ability to fly freely in any direction.

10 – River Raid (1982)

River Raid is a shooting game in which you have to control an airplane that flies across a river, destroying boats, helicopters, bridges and other obstacles while avoiding collisions. The aim is to achieve the highest score possible while progressing through procedurally generated stages.

11 – Donkey Kong (1981)

Donkey Kong introduced the first recognizable video game protagonist, the iconic Mario (at the time called Jumpman). In the game, Mario must rescue his girlfriend, Pauline, from the clutches of a large gorilla called Donkey Kong. The player must traverse four different levels, avoiding obstacles and enemies while climbing ladders and jumping over hurdles. Certainly one of the greatest Atari games of all time.

Donkey Kong starred in one of the greatest Atari games of all time

12 – Frogger (1981)

Frogger is a frog who must cross a busy road and a river full of dangers to reach his home. The player must avoid cars, trucks, crocodiles and other obstacles while guiding the frog towards the empty spaces in the house at the top of the screen.

13 – Galaga (1981)

Galaga is a space shooter, the sequel to Galaxian, and features similar game mechanics, but with significant improvements. The player controls a spaceship that must destroy waves of alien insects that move in formations and attack in specific patterns.

14 – E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Based on the movie of the same name, the game puts the player in the role of E.T., who must collect telephone parts and avoid government agents while trying to find parts to rebuild his spaceship and return home.

15 – Adventure (1980)

Often considered one of the first open-world adventure games, it is known for its innovative design and influence on future games. The player controls a hero who must explore a world full of castles, labyrinths and treasures while searching for a magical chalice.

16 – Combat (1977)

Combat is a fighting game that offers a variety of game modes where players control tanks, planes or other vehicles, with the aim of defeating their opponent. It was one of the first console games to allow multiplayer and was fundamental to Atari’s early success.

17 – Tempest (1981)

Tempest is one of the first games to use vector graphics and features unique gameplay in which the player controls a spaceship that moves along a three-dimensional tunnel, firing at oncoming enemies. The aim is to survive as long as possible while facing increasingly challenging waves of enemies.

18 – Yars’ Revenge (1981)

In this shooting game, the player controls a Yar, a fly-like creature, who must destroy a protective barrier and attack the villainous Qotile while avoiding being hit by enemy gunfire. Yars’ Revenge was well received by critics and is considered one of the greatest Atari games of all time.

19 – Kaboom! (1981)

Kaboom! is an arcade game developed by Activision. In it, the player controls a bucket that must catch bombs dropped by a criminal called the Mad Bomber. The aim is to pick up as many bombs as possible without letting any of them explode on the ground.

20 – Joust (1982)

In this arcade game, you have to control a knight riding an ostrich who must defeat other flying knights in a series of arenas. The aim is to hit the enemies from above to earn points while avoiding being hit by them.

21 – Pole Position (1982)

Pole Position is one of the first 3D racing games and features advanced graphics for its time. The game lets you drive a Formula 1 car and compete in a series of races to try and get the best time possible.

The greatest Atari games of all time are true classics

22 – Qbert (1982)

Another member of the list of the greatest Atari games of all time is Qbert, an arcade classic starring a creature of the same name, who must change the color of the cubes in a pyramid while avoiding enemies and obstacles. Each level is completed when all the cubes have been changed to the target color.

23 – Phoenix (1980)

The shooter features a spaceship that must destroy a series of enemy ships and alien bosses, and also has several different stages, including horizontal and vertical shooting phases.

24 – Robotron: 2084 (1982)

In Robotron, the player controls a human who must save the last remaining humans on an Earth dominated by killer robots and faces hordes of enemies in each level. It is remembered for its intense gameplay and technical innovations.

25 – Berzerk (1980)

Berzerk rounds off the list of the greatest Atari games of all time. In it, the player controls a human who must navigate labyrinths full of enemy robots while shooting at them. The aim is to survive as long as possible and earn points by destroying enemies and escaping the labyrinths.

List of the 25 greatest Atari games of all time

  1. Pac-Man
  2. Space Invaders
  3. Pitfall!
  4. Asteroids
  5. Missile Command
  6. Breakout
  7. Centipede
  8. Pong
  9. Defender
  10. River Raid
  11. Donkey Kong
  12. Frogger
  13. Galaga
  14. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
  15. Adventure
  16. Combat
  17. Tempest
  18. Yars’ Revenge
  19. Kaboom!
  20. Joust
  21. Pole Position
  22. Q*bert
  23. Phoenix
  24. Robotron: 2084
  25. Berzerk

Looking back at the greatest Atari games of all time helps us to understand the changes in the gaming universe. And if you like this kind of content, be sure to follow our website:

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