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Best Selling Atari 2600 Games

by Jim H

Atari’s Console and Games

The Atari VCS (Video Computer System) hit the market in 1977. By 1979, it was the hottest video gaming console on the market with 100 million units sold that year. The first edition of the system cost $199 and included the console, two single-button joysticks, two paddle controllers, and one ‘Combat’ game. Eight other games were available but were sold separately. In 1982, Atari released their best-selling game, Pac-Man, and the VCS console was renamed the Atari 2600. The best Atari 2600 games out during this decade.

During the 1980s, Atari was dominating the market and making billions of dollars. The system continued to see until 1990.

Best Atari 2600 Games List

#10 Donkey Kong

most popular atari games

Donkey Kong (1982)

Mario has to rescue Pauline from Donkey Kong while dodging barrels, fireballs, and shoddy construction. Mario’s one weapon, the hammer, comes with the drawback of being unable to jump.

Developer: Nintendo R&D1

Publisher: Coleco Industries

Programmer: Garry Kitchen

Release Date: 1982

Total Units Sold: 1.46 million


#9 E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

popular atari games

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

Of all the Atari 2600 games, E.T. is arguably the most infamous. Atari rushed the game’s release to sync up with the film’s release. As a result, players found it to be confusing to simply unplayable. In fact, this game is seen as one major factor in the Great Crash of 1983.

Developer and Publisher: Atari, Inc

Programmer: Howard Scott Warshaw

Release Date: December 1982

Total Units Sold: 1.5 million


#8 Mario Bros

best atari 2600 games

Mario Bros, (1983).

Players must help Mario and Luigi clear pipe-ways of crabs, turtles, sentient ice chunks, insects, and fireballs while they collect coins.

Developer: Nintendo R&D1

Publisher: Atari, Inc.

Programmer: Dan Hitchens

Release Date: December 1983

Total Units Sold: 1.59 million


#7 Frogger

popular atari games

Frogger (1982)

There are many jokes about chickens crossing roads. But only one game about frogs doing the same feat. The player guides the frog through high-speed traffic and moving logs in order to reach the other side.

Developer: Konami

Publisher: Parker Brothers

Programmer: Ed English

Release Date: August 1982

Total Units Sold: 2 million


#6 Demon Attack

most popular atari 2600 games

Demon Attack (1982)

Fend off multiple varieties of “demons” with only a laser. While initial versions stop at level 84, Fulop changed one line of code so that further releases went on forever.

Developer and Publisher: Imagic

Programmer: Rob Fulop

Release Date: March 1982

Total Units Sold: 2 million


#5 Space Invaders

best atari 2600 games still worth playing

Space Invaders (1980)

It’s just the player’s tank and three brittle shields against waves of alien invaders. As the body count rises, so too does the alien menace’s advance. This is a great game if you need some stress in your life!

Developer Taito

Publisher: Atari, Inc.

Programmer: Rick Maurer

Release Date: 1980

Total Units Sold: 2.5 million


#4 Missile Command

atari 2600 games

Missile Command (1981)

The player commands a trio of anti-missile batteries to defend six cities from a rain of missiles. Some of these missiles splinter into multiple projectiles in mid-flight. Lead developer Dave Feurer claimed to have had countless nightmares of cities ravaged by nuclear blasts while he worked on this title.

Developer and Publisher: Atari, Inc.

Programmer: Rob Fulop

Release Date: March 8, 1981

Total Units Sold: 2,760,000


#3 Asteroids

atari 2600 games

Asteroids (1981)

Players must steer an armed spaceship through an asteroid belt. But they must avoid crashing into enemies or debris while they shoot those threats. If players are reckless, they may be caught off-guard. And blasting large rocks leads to smaller fragments to worry about. While the player’s perspective is locked within one screen, the borders wrap around. This means that when the player moves the spaceship past one edge of the screen, the spaceship appears on the opposite side.

Developer and Publisher: Atari, Inc.

Programmer: Bradley G. Stewart

Release Date: July 1981

Total Units Sold: 3.8 million


#2 Pitfall!

atari video games

Pitfall! (1982)

This action platform title has players controlling Pitfall Harry as he jumps and swings on vines in order to avoid crocodiles, quicksand, scorpions, and other jungle hazards.

Developer and Publisher: Activision

Programmer: David Crane

Release Date: April 20, 1982

Total Units Sold: 4.5 million


#1 Pac-Man

atari 2600 games

Pac-Man (1982)

Pac-Man was by far the most popular of all the Atari 2600 games. Although Pac-Man was a best seller, many consumers complained that this version was inferior to the arcade original. In this game, the player charges through mazes lined with pellets, ghosts, and power pellets. But be careful. The player must avoid the ghosts while attempting to consume every pellet. Luckily, there are power pellets that give Pac-Man the ability to eat ghosts for a limited time. Strategy comes into play when the power pellet is consumed.

Developer: Namco

Publisher: Atari, Inc.

Programmer: Tod Frye

Release Date: March 1982

Total Units Sold: 7.7 million


Considering the ten best Atari 2600 games library, it’s easy to see how 30 million units could have sold. After a successful 13 years on the market, the Atari 2600 was officially discontinued in 1990. It had earned the designation “the longest-lived home video game console in video game history” thanks to Atari 2600 games that brought the fun of the arcade into millions of homes across the world.

See also:
Best Selling 80s Cars

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