Retro Gaming Gold: The Best 80s Computer Games You Totally Forgot About

If you're feeling nostalgic for the good old days, check out our list of the best '80s PC games and take a trip down memory lane.

The '80s were an exciting time for computer games, marked by technological leaps and the birth of innovative concepts. Many of the games you'll find below were pioneers in their day, introducing features that are now standard on our modern consoles.

Of course, we can't talk about retro gaming without mentioning the classic casino games that were so popular back then. Slot machines, blackjack, and roulette could all be found in the '80s, where you could play with 5 dollar deposit casino. The flashing lights and sounds of the slots and the thrill of hitting 21 at the blackjack tables capture the exciting casino atmosphere of the '80s. Though retro in style, these casino classics are just as fun to play today!

Now back to our list of the top '80s computer games that paved the way for modern gaming...

While they may seem simple compared to today's games, these titles hail from the Golden Age of Gaming and hold a special place in gaming history. They're practically royalty!

Let's dive into the world of the best '80s PC games!

Maniac Mansion (1987)

The author claims that the best '80s PC game of all time is officially Maniac Mansion!

In the '80s and '90s, Lucas Films was behind many epic games. While we often associate George Lucas' company with Star Wars, they've been a player in the gaming world for quite a while.

Maniac Mansion's use of cutscenes, multiple protagonists that could be controlled independently, and branching story paths based on your choices. The zany humor, pop culture references, and B-movie horror vibe also gave it a unique personality.

Some wacky puzzles required players to microwave a hamster, recruit a sentient meteor, and deal with a disembodied tentacle! It was an innovative game design that gave players unprecedented freedom to explore the strange mansion however they wished.

Maniac Mansion was a hit on the Commodore 64 and Apple II and would inspire a new wave of graphic adventure games. It also spawned the popular Day of the Tentacle sequel in 1993. For many, this quirky title defined the genre in the '80s.

As you navigate the game, you'll solve puzzles, encounter creepy traps, and meet unforgettable characters. It's a quirky old game, but even after 25 years, we still can't get enough of it!

SimCity (1989)

Sim City was a game-changer. Developed by Maxis and designed by Will Wright, SimCity is one of the earliest and most influential simulation/construction games.

The game's core idea is building a city, but how you build and manage it is entirely up to you. You can opt for a clean, eco-friendly city with sustainable energy or go the route of air pollution and high taxes. Players take on the role of mayor to build and manage a virtual city from scratch. This involves laying down roads, zoning land for residential, commercial, and industrial use, managing infrastructure like power plants and transportation, and addressing citizen happiness.

Players also need to tackle natural disasters like earthquakes and deal with their impact on the daily lives of the city's residents.

Start by constructing a small village and watch it transform into (hopefully) the perfect city. You'll need to build homes, schools, shops, and all the necessities for a thriving community.

You can even lay power lines underwater and create an airport. And when you're itching for a change, just summon Godzilla to wreak havoc!

The game utilized an isometric dimetric graphical perspective which was innovative at the time. The visuals brought the city to life in a way that immersed players.

Since its initial release for Amiga and Mac, SimCity has been ported to over 20 platforms, including Super Nintendo and PC. It spawned countless sequels over the years that built upon the original.

SimCity received critical acclaim for its innovative design. It demonstrated that games don't need to be winnable or loseable to be engaging and fun.

Castle Wolfenstein (1981)

Developed and published by Muse Software for DOS. Castle Wolfenstein is considered one of the earliest stealth-based action-adventure shooter games. It's a gripping story of a prisoner's daring escape from the clutches of the Nazis, where they not only steal crucial war plans but also manage to leave Castle Wolfenstein with their life intact.

Admittedly, you'll need a touch of imagination because the graphics are quite basic by today's standards. Nevertheless, this brave escape game was the real deal in its heyday.

Set in World War II, the game places the player as a spy trying to escape from the Nazi stronghold Castle Wolfenstein.

Gameplay involves avoiding guards, collecting secret war plans, disguising yourself, and using weapons like guns and grenades. It blended action, adventure, and stealth elements.

While primitive by today's standards, Castle Wolfenstein pioneered character-based 3D graphics to create an immersive first-person perspective. This was cutting-edge at the time.

The enemy guards had different AI behaviors, like turning and shooting if they spotted the player. This added challenge and realism.

Originally released for the Apple II in 1981, it was later ported to DOS, Commodore 64, and other platforms.

Castle Wolfenstein was a major inspiration for the entire stealth genre, establishing conventions like sound-based detection and taking out enemies quietly.

It spawned the influential Wolfenstein 3D in 1992, further popularizing the first-person shooter genre. This cemented Castle Wolfenstein's status as a landmark in gaming history.

Castle Wolfenstein was revolutionary in the early '80s for its immersive perspective, AI enemies, and emphasis on stealth and evasion over direct combat. It showed the possibilities of the emerging action-adventure genre. Considering its 80s origins, Castle Wolfenstein was surprisingly advanced.

Never judge a game by its simple exterior – Castle Wolfenstein may look basic, but it delivers an exhilarating experience. Plus, who knows, without it, we might not have had games like Thief!

Populous (1989)

Populous is often hailed as one of the greatest PC games ever, not just from the '80s. Populous shares a similar concept if you've ever delved into Terry Pratchett's novels and recalled gods engaging in games. Populous was a pioneering god game developed by Bullfrog Productions and designed by Peter Molyneux.

In this game, you assume the role of a god and compete against other deities. Your task is to nurture a civilization and lead them into battle against the followers of rival gods.

It all begins with just one human inhabitant. You'll need to find suitable land for building, establish a village, and witness as more followers flock to your cause.

Once your city is flourishing, you must select a hero to venture forth in the name of your god, a champion to confront the non-believers—or the followers of other gods, to be precise.

As a god, you wield powers to influence other towns and villages. Whether it's punishing those who foolishly built in flood-prone areas with a deluge or creating a volcano to shower lava upon their creations, you can sow chaos far and wide.

With a whopping 500 worlds to conquer, Populous offers plenty of gaming value!

Populous initially sold over 1 million copies and was ported from Amiga to other platforms like SNES and Sega Genesis.

This game pioneered god games and open-ended strategy, giving players unprecedented control over shaping worlds. It left a mark on simulation games to come.

Elite (1984)

Developed by David Braben and Ian Bell for the BBC Micro, Elite pioneered 3D vector graphics to create an open-ended space simulation. Elite takes space trading to your PC. Who doesn't want to try their hand at the kind of adventures Han Solo gets up to, right?

You'll make your fortune cruising through galaxies, often evading the law and dealing in less-than-legal goods.

Sure, the wireframe graphics may seem sparse by today's standards, but remember, this game first hit the scene in 1984. Watching Commander Jameson navigate space, collecting credits, and chasing bounties felt as thrilling as that first viewing of Star Wars.

Periodically, your ship will come under attack. You can't afford to let that action slide – you've got to fight back like your life depends on it (because it does), especially if you want to keep trading.

You can blow up any old spacecraft in a GTA-style twist, but be ready for the police to knock.

While Elite may not offer as many planets to explore as No Man's Sky, there are still a few hundred out there waiting for you to discover. It's bound to be quite the adventure!

Elite was ported to numerous platforms after its success on the BBC Micro, even being remade several times.

This game was revolutionary in 1984 for its expansive world, emergent gameplay, and 3D visuals, establishing concepts that would shape gaming for decades after. It remains one of the most impactful space trading sims ever made.

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