Best computer games from the ’80s

Filed under Game trail, Mainstream coverage, Software showcase;

Awhile back, produced a list of the best computer games from the 1980s. Lists may be quick and easy ways to generate pageviews, but they’re also enjoyable opportunities to reminisce and debate.

Time’s list, which did not limit itself to the Apple II (see Retro Gamer for that list), consisted of the following apparently unranked one dozen games:

  • • California Games
  • • Ghostbusters
  • • Quest for Glory
  • • SimCity
  • • Prince of Persia
  • • Police Quest

I haven’t actually played many of those games, or at least on their native platforms. But it does inspire me to jog my memory by consulting Wikipedia’s list of Apple II games and list of Apple IIGS games to see which would make my must-play list. Here are my candidates:

And that’s not even counting non-commercial games, such as GShisen or Silvern Castle.

What games top your memories of the Apple II?

  1. Jon Cruz says:

    Oregon Trail, Wolfenstein, Ultima IV, Karateka, and Space Quest were among my very favorites, so I am thrilled to see them here. I remember being scandalized when I first came across Leisure Suit Larry!

    The Carmen Sandiego games would be on my list as well.

  2. Jon Cruz says:

    Tass Times in Tonetown, also!

  3. Rescue Raiders from Sir-Tech absolutely needs to be on that list.

  4. Other than those listed, for the Apple II I was a big fan of…

    Raid over Moscow
    Ultima V
    Might and Magic II
    The Bard’s Tale III: The Thief of Fate
    The Pool of Radiance
    Dungeon Master (IIGS) – What I think to be my favorite II game of all time even though it was an Atari ST port.

  5. Dain: I forgot to include Pool of Radiance. I played only the NES version but loved it; I wish I’d had more access to its “Gold Box” kin.

    As for Dungeon Master, I could just never get into that game. Andy Molloy had it running on an Atari 1040ST at VCF Easy 7.0, which was a feat, but I still didn’t find it any more enjoyable than I did twenty years ago.

  6. Peter Watson says:

    I was glad to see Loderunner there, but I’m amazed that none of the Infocom games made the cut! My list would include Zork I/II/II. (All three as a package since they were really just three chapters of a larger work.)

  7. Actually for me the Castle Wolfenstein is priceless. How much fun I had playing it, damn, miss the old times

  8. Olivier says:

    I’m with Blake, Rescue Raiders! With you and readers on LodeRunner, Conan. Would add Ultima III, Goonies, and Night Mission Pinball ( Ah, memories :)

  9. Don’t forget Wings of Fury (Broderbund ruled back then), Auto Duel, Sabotage, Mario Bros (great deathmatch action with a friend), and Defender of the Crown for the GS!

  10. I cannot think of a any game on the Apple II where I have logged more hours than Loderunner. A good friend of mine said it best, “Doug Smith is a god.”

    Loderunner looks awesome in B/W (B/G) and color. It has the perfect mix of skill and problem solving. The only way to improve on Loderunner would be a live action version a la Ninja Warrior.

    Conan would be #2.

    I completely agree with Peter; Zork is missing. I may have logged more time on Zork*, but not all hours on the Apple II.

    Great blog BTW.

  11. I agree with many of yours. I actually have my top Apple IIGS games on youtube:, but including all 80s computer games, I would say the top list would probably include: Conan: Hall of Volta, Silpheed, Thexder, Tomahawk, Arkanoid II, Drelbs, Robotron 2084, Zany Golf, Moon Patrol.

  12. Michael Kent says:

    Zany Golf!!!

  13. Sun Dog. No? Just me? Ah well.

  14. Sun Dog was the best!

    In addition, my favorites were: Apple Adventure, Aztec, Starblazer, Wavy Navy, Microwave, Dino Eggs, Skyfox, Auto Duel, Rescue Raiders, Conan, Ultima III


  16. We used to play these games in school during recess. They even had a class for the black cauldron, but i was too young at the time. There was this one game that I’m trying to find. I remember a mansion and it was kinda scary in parts, especially going outside. If someone knows what I’m talking about PLEASE let me know!

  17. amnesiac says:

    +1 for wings of fury
    Also, anything by Sierra – Police Quest (as mentioned above), Space Quest, King’s Quest, Gold Rush…

    Space Rogue



  18. amnesiac says:

    and how could I forget Pirates!

  19. Todd Walker says:

    Can’t believe timezone did not make this list.
    My list:
    Alien typhoon
    Miner 2049er
    Mystery house
    Wizardry : first game w cheat codes
    Castle wolfenstein
    Space eggs

  20. Amiga was the best along with C 64

    Chukie egg
    jet pack
    atic atak
    target renegade
    pit stop 2
    match day 2
    giana sisters
    rainbow islands
    Dune 2 the battle for arrakis

  21. Appreciate there has been some time since the last post however, in reply to L, the game was called Maniac Mansion. I remember wanting this game bad after I played it on a mates Apple II. Took decades later to get in via remake on the PC. Never managed to get the Apple II as a kid.

  22. […] out Ken Gagne has posted a great list of classic Apple II and IIGS games in his post here on the Apple II Bits blog. This entry was posted on Monday, May 30th, 2011 at 10:32 pm and is […]