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Arcade Origins: Top 10 Arcade Games from 1978

Top 10 Arcade Games

It’s been a while coming but the second chapter of my life in the arcades is here. Last time round we covered 1976 and 1977 in one fell swoop and this time, it’s the turn of 1978.

1978 saw plenty of innovation and one coin-op that would totally change the world of video games forever. So sit back, grab your rose tinted glasses and enjoy this look back at the Top 10 Arcade Games of 1978!

10. Sky Diver – Atari

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Like many of Atari’s early arcade games, Sky Diver is probably best known for its improved conversion to the company’s 2600 VCS home console. It’s a strictly two-player game where you must dispatch the titular Sky Diver from a plane circling above, open his parachute and then try to correctly navigate him to the landing pad below. As well as being awarded points for landing in the correct place, you can also earn bonus score from the length of your freefall before you bottle it and open up the parachute. If you manage to spell the word “Skydiver” then you will get an even bigger points haul.

Sky Diver was a fun and competitive game that offered up some unique controls and a nice element of humour when you missed. It’s all pretty simple by today’s standards of course but I suppose you could think of it as the granddaddy of Nintendo’s popular Pilotwings franchise!


9. Sky Raider – Atari

Arcade-Sky Raider-min

Lyle Rains would later go on to develop the revolutionary arcade game Hard Drivin’ but he was breaking new ground and wowing audiences with something equally impressive back in 1978. Sky Raider was a vertically scrolling shoot ‘em up that used some incredibly clever graphical wizardry to display the scenery around you. You view the action from the cockpit of your fighter jet flying over enemy territory. On the screen you control a crosshair which you must move over the enemy targets to destroy them. These foes are both ground and air based, the latter being harder to hit as they also move.

The impression of 3D as you move over the warping landscape is incredibly impressive but the game does lose a little bit of the appeal when you realise that the enemies don’t fight back. The idea of the game is to simply try and achieve the highest score possible with the allotted time limit.