My Top 10 Favorite Atari 2600 Games

James / August 15th, 2012

One of the questions I get all the time at conventions is “What’s your favorite game?” It’s tough to decide. For anyone who’s curious, I’ll be posting my favorite games for each console. I’m sure later I’ll remember a game I forgot about or I’ll change my mind or something. That’s why I’ve never done this before. Most of my choices are predictable anyway. I’m going to do Atari 2600 for now. I’ll think about NES, Genesis and SNES.

1. Space Invaders

2. Stampede

3. Yars’ Revenge

4. Kaboom

5. Missile Command

6. Pitfall

7. Frogs and Flies

8. Worm War I

9. Jungle Hunt

10. Vanguard


  • BorisCarloff

    August 15, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Oh come on! Frogs and Flies is overrated!

  • August 15, 2012 at 10:27 am

    NES, Genesis, & SNES? No love for the Master System, 5200, 7800, TurboGrafx16, Neo Geo, Jaguar, or CDI? Well I could understand why you wouldn’t have any for the 5200, CDI or Jaguar. Those systems really sucked. But you gotta give some love to the other systems and list your Top 10 for those too. Great list of games. I would have picked those too. Frogs and Flies is great. : )

  • August 15, 2012 at 10:30 am

    1. Indy 500
    2. Kaboom
    3. Asteroids
    4. Space Invaders
    5. Ice Hockey
    6. Missile Command
    7. Pitfall
    8. Plaque Attack
    9. Enduro
    10. Pole Position

  • August 15, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Nice choice of games, James. Space invaders is fucking awesome!!!

  • pacman01

    August 15, 2012 at 11:25 am

    my favorite atari 2600 game is et naw just joking its poleposition

  • jakobrlancaster

    August 15, 2012 at 11:26 am

    I have a hard time putting Space Invaders and Pitfall on my list, because my favorite Space Invaders game is the one that came out on Nintendo 64 and, I think, Playstation. After playing that one, none of the others really click with me. All I can think about when I play another version of Space Invaders is “man, I really wish I were playing Space Invaders on my Nintendo 64.” The same goes for Pitfall. I absolutely adore Pitfall II, and after I got hooked on it there just wasn’t really any going back to the original Pitfall. Pitfall II has music, checkpoints, and an actual acheivable goal, making it possible to actually beat the game (which, to my knowledge, the original lacks–although I may be wrong). I’m really shocked that Warlords didn’t make it onto this list, though. In my opinion, Warlords is to this day one of the greatest multiplayer games of all time. And it’s easily one of my top ten favorite games of all time, on any system–as long as we’re not counting homebrews, because Medieval Mayhem is a much improved homebrew version of Warlords, and naturally, I prefer it to the original.

    Anyways, as long as we’re on the subject, I have to indulge myself. Here’s my top ten:

    1.) Warlords/Medieval Mayhem
    2.) Skeleton+
    3.) Pitfall II
    4.) Yars’ Revenge
    5.) Adventure/Adventure+
    6.) Asteroids
    7.) River Raid
    8.) Defender
    9.) Berzerk
    10.) Prehistoric Times

  • mcnew.robert

    August 15, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    top 10 atari 2600

    1. Donkey kong
    2. E.T. (for reels) it’s not bad at all πŸ˜€
    3. River Raid
    4. Sabotor
    5. Centipede
    6. Wizard of Wor
    7. Pac-Man (it looks awful but it’s still pac-man)
    8. Midnight Magic Pinball
    9. Combat. (I own at that game)
    10. halo 2600, (I know that’s kinda cheating but it’s my list so… πŸ˜› )

  • stoney_1

    August 15, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    keystone cops is a fun one too!

  • August 15, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    I always loved that game Adventure. Its like a Zelda game for Atari lol. Your character is just a little square. You go around and carry items a bridge you can use to go through walls and a spear for killing dragons. The goal is to find the key to the castle.

  • August 15, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    I didn’t think about sharing my top 10 until I saw a few do it, so I think I’ll do it now. These are MY top ten for various systems I’ve played, and all pre-Playstation era.

    My top 10 Atari 2600 would have to be the following (in no particular order):

    10. Pac-Man
    09. Donkey Kong
    08. Space Invaders
    07. Centipede
    06. Millipede
    05. Frogs & Flies
    04. Frogger
    03. Q-Bert
    02. Pitfall
    01. Kaboom!

    My Top 10 For NES favorites would be (in no particular order):

    10. Super Mario Bros. (I, II, & III)
    09. Castlevania (only the first)
    08. A Nightmare On Elm Street
    07. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game
    06. Tetras
    05. Vice: Project Doom
    04. Bomberman
    03. Freedom Force
    02. Zelda
    01. Metroid

    My top 10 for the Sega Master System (in no particular order):

    10. Ghostbusters
    09. Out Run
    08. Astro Warriors
    07. Double Dragon
    06. Gangster Town
    05. Zillion
    04. Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?
    03. Rampage
    02. Space Harrier
    01. Shinobi

    My top 10 for the Sega Genesis (in no particular oder):

    10. ToeJam & Earl
    09. ToeJam & Earl in Panic On Funk-O-Tron
    08. Spider-Man Vs. The Kingpin
    07. The Simpsons: Bart’s Nightmare
    06. Splatterhouse (II & III)
    05. Toxic Crusaders
    04. X-Men
    03. Thunder Force II
    02. Zombies Ate My Neighbors
    01. Kid Chameleon

    My top 10 for the Super Nintendo (in no particular order):

    10. Super Mario World
    09. Zelda: A Link To The Past
    08. Mortal Kombat (I, II, & III)
    07. Batman Returns
    06. Earthworm Jim
    05. Sunset Riders
    04. Star Wars
    03. Spider-Man: The Animated Series
    02. Super Bomberman
    01. Super R-Type

    As it is with any top 10 list it’s someone’s personal favorites. Just because it’s something you don’t like doesn’t mean that their list is bad. If you got your favorites, well of course you should post them, and if not then why say anything negative? Frogs & Flies may be overrated to one person, but a personal favorite to another. Just as some people may hate a console, say Sega for instance, but that doesn’t mean others didn’t love them for what they did to their childhood. It’s all about mutual respect and overall enjoying your collection. : )

  • Jimbp

    August 15, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    no Adventure? what gives, but no, you didn’t even list Combat, perhaps the best multiplayer game of all time!!!!! oh well, coming from the guy who played the tiger version of simons quest, i guess ill let it slide.

  • shadowdio

    August 15, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    you forget the E.T…. πŸ™

  • relapse808

    August 15, 2012 at 2:07 pm

    What the fuck, you dont have Keystone Capers on the list????

  • hammerhorrortexas

    August 15, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    1.Dig Dug
    2. Jr. Pac Man
    3. Mario Bros.
    4. Moon Patrol
    5. Pac Man
    6. Pole Position
    7. Missle Command (used to own arcade cabinet)
    8. Night Driver
    9. Kangaroo
    10. Midnight Magic (pinball)

    I’m 29 yrs old, so I remeber these decently, and I had a 2600 before I got an NES.

  • Tulk

    August 15, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Well, I might do mine as well. I don’t know if all those game are for the 2600 (I was so little to tell the difference) but never mind:

    1- Draconus (the big grand daddy of metroid)
    2- Montezuma’s Revenge
    3- River raid
    4- Moon patrol
    5- Popeye
    6- Kaboom
    7- Pitfall
    8- Pole position
    9- Asteroids
    10- Pacman

    I never had an NES so:


    1- Kirby super star deluxe (8 games in one, co-op, a lot or power ups, so much fun)
    2- Tales of Phantasia (sadly, emulated)
    3- Chrono Trigger
    4- Megaman X3
    5- Terranigma
    6- Killer instinct
    7- Final Fantasy 3
    8- Super mario RPG
    9- Super castlevania 4
    10- Earthbound

    I’ve never liked Zelda Alttp too much to be honest. Then probably goes all the quintet games, super metroid or other stuff.

  • hotpoop

    August 15, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    1. Pitfall II The Lost Caverns
    2. Crystal Castles
    3. Midnight Magic
    4. Frogger
    5. Pitfall
    6. Jungle Hunt
    7. Kangaroo
    8. Cosmic Arc
    9. Q-bert
    10. Super Breakout

  • smd

    August 15, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    You already did a list of favourite NES/SNES games, it’s right there in the FAQ.

    PS Defender and Asteroids would be on my list πŸ™‚

  • Keith the Genesis Geek

    August 15, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    Wow! Such awesome topics lately! Great list guys!!

    1. Demon Attack – The Master!

    2. Dig Dug – … It’s fucking Dig-Dug

    3. River Raid – A nice break from Space theme

    4. Kangaroo – Challenging and fun

    5. Beamrider – GET THIS GAME!

    6. Pitfall – Classic

    7. Yars Revenge – Could have bumped up higher

    8. Worm War 1 – Needs a sequel … NOW!

    9. Stampede – I suck at it, but still love it

    10. Cosmic Arc – Love catching critters


  • August 15, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Great lists!

    I forgot about the FAQ. Should be interesting to see how the new lists compare.

  • Keith the Genesis Geek

    August 15, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    I feel dirty … not mentioning games that should have been on my list. Argh … ashamed of my list, now.


  • August 15, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    I am older than James and a massive gaming fan and had a Atari 2600 but I just always thought it was generic and sucked. Hence this list.
    1. Chrono Trigger
    2. L4D2
    3. FF7
    4. FF3
    5. FF12 (PS2)
    6. SF II (SNES)
    7. Pac-Man (Only because I have fond memories of playing it with my dad and kicking his ass in it)
    8. Tetris
    9. Contra (NES & SNES)
    10. Metroid (NES & SNES)


  • August 15, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Oh and GTA Vice City, Dawg

  • Keith the Genesis Geek

    August 15, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    @SoccerMom… SELLOUT!! RPG BIAS!!



    Super can’t touch “Bare Knuckle 3” , Rockman Megaworld! “Pulseman” The Mega Drive has everything!! The only awesome game you got on that list is Contra!


  • Dirty Jared

    August 15, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    1. Frostbite
    2. Warlords
    3. Demon Attack
    4. Defender
    5. Armor Ambush
    6. Air Sea Battle
    7. Combat
    8. VideLaser Blast
    9. Pitfall
    10. Video Olympics

  • Dirty Jared

    August 15, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    edit 8. Laser Blast

  • Howitzer

    August 15, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    i grew up on Missle Command, Kaboom and River Raid. My Dad beat Kaboom and saw the bomber guy smile. Missle Command just freezes when you get 1 million and I never hit the end of River Raid.

  • cottonrhetoric

    August 15, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    No love for Venture?

    πŸ™‚ a good list though

  • J.J. McSandfarm

    August 15, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    The games James named are great, but I doubt any of them have the legs Adventure does.

  • Aaron1375

    August 15, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    I like Pitfall, but no Pitfall 2 on the list? I thought that one was one of the best Atari games cause you could actually win it.

  • culwin

    August 15, 2012 at 8:44 pm

    The only 2600 games worth playing in my opinion are:
    1. Combat
    2. Adventure
    3. Yars’ Revenge

  • August 15, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    That’s the magic of lists, everyone by every person is different. Nice to see Stampede get some sweet lovin’. I’m with Aaron, Pitfall II was ahead of its time for the 2600 but hey, some people don’t like cheeseburgers either so who am I to argue? Totally intrested in that SNES list!

  • Keith the Genesis Geek

    August 15, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    LOL! Mike put Dragonfire as #2.REALLY? lol
    The story is hilarious so that must be why. LOL! It makes you wanna root for the Dragons. lol. It’s fun for a minute or two …

  • August 16, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    This list is worthless without Adventure and Dig Dug.

  • jackieblue420

    August 16, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    I never owned an Atari 2600, but I had a neighbor friend who did. The games I played on it and loved were:
    Mountain King
    Space Invaders
    Pole Position

  • DennyB

    August 16, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    Great list of some classics James.

  • August 17, 2012 at 12:06 am

    I spent many hours playing Yars’ Revenge even tho I got it after I got an NES. Was also a huge fan of Demon Attack. Much moreso than Space Invaders. The SI arcade machine was the bomb tho!

  • dickbutt

    August 17, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Why wasn’t E.T mentioned in this list James? That really gets my knickers in a twist FO’ SHO’

  • Keith the Genesis Geek

    August 18, 2012 at 9:37 am

    @ Jackieblue
    Galaga was only on the 7800. Are you sure it wasn’t Galaxian? Because that one was done great to the 2600 πŸ™‚

    I love the sound in Galaga on the 7800 πŸ™‚

  • MrCredibility

    August 19, 2012 at 9:23 am

    I loved Solaris for the 2600! That game was incredible. Combat was another good one if you managed to sucker someone into playing with you.

  • MisterE

    August 19, 2012 at 2:52 pm

    no demon attack? i’m sorry, but demon attack blows space invaders out of the water in terms of fun, and the enemy design is way more interesting.

    also, river raid is the best game for atari 2600. it’s pretty much a scientific fact. i had this game as a kid and all my friends/cousins wanted this game off of me. i don’t remember if it was rare or what, i don’t know why they couldn’t just have their parents buy it for them. what ended up happening, one older cousin finally swindled it out of me after dogging me to borrow it for weeks on end. he traded me a stack of like ~12 games for it, just as a temporary swap! the stack included the classics like ‘basketball’ and lots of other pretty good games like that. for ONE game.

    he never gave me river raid back, so i got to keep his stack of games. but that’s how good river raid was/is. my dad had a friend (so this is a dude who was maybe 20-30yrs old at the time) who’s life goal was to get like 100,00 points in river raid. that game is so intense as it goes on.
    BEST 2600 GAME EVER. FACT. if you haven’t played it, do yourself a favor and check it out.

  • MisterE

    August 19, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    oh and, even though i had 12 pretty solid games, in its place, i still wanted river raid back instead.

  • Keith the Genesis Geek

    August 19, 2012 at 8:15 pm

    @ MisterE
    Space invaders is more challenging and classic. Phoenix is almost as good too!

    I prefer Demon attack as well, but you can’t argue over fucking Space Invaders!

    There are too many great Atari games to do a top 10.

  • ForeverbladeB18

    August 19, 2012 at 10:04 pm




    4.Haunted House

    5.Keystone Kappers


    7.Space invaders

    8.River Raid


    10.Demon Attack

  • swampdragon

    August 19, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    Atari 2600 is gonna be hard…

    1. Pitfall!
    2. River Raid
    3. Frogger
    4. Adventure
    5. Space Invaders
    6. Yar’s Revenge
    7. Kaboom
    8. Montezuma’s Revenge
    9. California Games
    10. Keystone Kapers

  • Ben_from_G-town

    August 21, 2012 at 4:53 am

    Where’s Joust on your list?! Hell, I haven’t heard anyone mention it yet! I loved playing that game. πŸ˜›

  • August 25, 2012 at 8:27 am

    1. Pitfalll!
    2. Demon Attack
    3. Phoenix
    4. Plaque Attack
    5. Pac-Man Jr.
    6. California Games
    7. Keystone Kapers
    8. River Raid
    9. Enduro
    10. Boxing

  • Daniel

    August 27, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    5. E.T

  • DTysonator

    August 30, 2012 at 2:04 am

    I was wondering whether or not any of the naughty adult games would make your list, James, but am glad to see that none of them did haha :).

    Still need to play more Atari games before I can put together my own top ten favorite games list. I have only played a handful of games thus far, which isn’t surprising, as I don’t own the console.

  • August 31, 2012 at 11:57 am

    1. Donkey Kong
    2. Pit Fall
    3. Pti Fall II
    4. Space Invaders
    5. Dig Dug
    6. Pac Man
    7. Missile Command
    8. Combat
    9. Phoenix
    10. Frogger

    Love my 2600 πŸ™‚

  • September 4, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    idk if I even have 10….

    Star Castle (new via Kickstarter)
    Mountain King
    Pit Fall

  • September 4, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Well, everybody else is doing it…
    My list is gonna seem strange…
    In no order

    Raiders of the Lost Ark
    Haunted House
    Ms Pac Man
    Laser Blast
    Swordquest Earthworld
    Donkey Kong

  • Mr. Saturn

    September 5, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    All I remember playing as a kid was Combat. Played the crap out of Combat.

  • Gaia666

    September 7, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    Nice to see Missile Command make your list, I don’t think that classic gets enough credit.

  • AklashPahk

    September 14, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    I used to play a lot of Frostbite, Vanguard and Megamania.

    Megamania is my #1 by far.

  • Fred Fuchs81

    September 14, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    I really miss Combat πŸ™‚

  • TanteGuro

    September 17, 2012 at 10:42 am

    James, you should really check out a site called It’s a great site that is all about ranking games from all platforms and discussing old and new games.
    I know your name has come up a few times when they were looking for some new VIP members so you’d be very welcome to make some lists.
    A few studios and reviewers are already members, Screwattack and IGN f.instance.
    Just check it out. They have a really friendly community as well.

  • September 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    I remember playing them but do not know if any really stood out so I will go by the ones I played the most

    Asteroids(flipped that game twice on one guy when I was like 9 years old)
    moon patrol
    starwars – empire strikes back(not that it was good but I just remember being a kid thinking – “This is so bad ass, emperial walkers!”

  • September 20, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    I wished I’d spelled “imperial” right…[email protected]

  • ThisKneeGuy

    September 26, 2012 at 9:26 am

    1. Pitfall!
    2. Demon Attack
    3. Adventure
    4. Spider Fighter
    5. River Raid
    6. Pitfall! II – The Lost Caverns
    7. Chopper Command
    8. Venture
    9. Berzerk
    10. Asteroids

  • elirox904

    October 9, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    1. Space Invaders
    2. Adventure
    3. Pitfall
    4. Super Breakout
    5. Asteroids
    6. Mario Bros
    7. Q-Bert
    8. Burger Time
    9. Frogger
    10. Donkey Kong

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