The '80s were both a great time and a terrible time for gaming. On the one hand, you had that whole video game crash thing, which just about did console gaming in for good. But with the NES's launch and subsequent massive success, gaming was of two worlds for quite a long time, with faster paced arcade-style games mostly appearing on consoles and more slow, cerebral games on various home computer platforms. Both attracted quite large followings in their own way, and both had quite a few quality releases before the decade ended. I'm of course more of a console gamer, but I've since gained an appreciation for several PC classics as well, so I'll attempt to pay my respects to both here. Though I will have one caveat in that I am limiting myself to one game per franchise.
21. Simcity (Maxis, 1989)
free in your web browser, so if you haven't checked out this gem yet, well, now you have no excuse.
The DOS release is also playable for free on the Internet Archive!
20. The Oregon Trail (MECC, 1985)
online via the Internet Archive), the fact that it's existed in some form since 1971 is proof that it has some serious staying power. The goal is simple enough - reach Oregon - but resource and risk management are key elements of the journey, with numerous random events (both helpful and not) giving it the feel of a roguelike in some respects. A few minigames appear too - hunting and river travel require some good old twitch skill, ensuring it holds appeal to arcade/console gamers as well.
19. Phantasy Star (Sega, 1988)
18. Maniac Mansion (LucasArts, 1987)
censored, it made up for it with an outstanding soundtrack that realized numerous genres with surprising accuracy on the hardware.
17. Ninja Gaiden II (Tecmo, 1989)
16. The Guardian Legend (Compile, 1989)
15. Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! (Nintendo, 1987)
14. Ducktales (Capcom, 1989)
13. Metroid (Nintendo, 1986)
12. Ms. Pac Man (General Computer Corporation, 1982)
11. Bionic Commando (Capcom, 1988)
10. Bubble Bobble (Taito, 1986)
9. Batman (Sunsoft, 1989)
8. Final Fight (Capcom, 1989)
7. Contra (Konami, 1988)
6. Starflight (Binary Systems, 1986)
5. The Legend of Zelda (Nintendo, 1987)
4. Mega Man 2 (Capcom, 1989)
3. Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar (Origin Systems, 1986)
2. Tetris (Nintendo R&D1/Bullet Proof Software, 1989)
1. Super Mario Bros. (Nintendo, 1985)