Top 80s Video Game Characters

Dive into the nostalgic pixel-perfect adventures of the 80s with us as we rank the most iconic video game characters from that era.

The 1980s was a decade of great innovation and growth for the video game industry, producing some of the most iconic video game characters of all time. Characters like Pac-Man, Super Mario, Donkey Kong, and Link are still relevant today and have spawned new games and spin-offs. Other notable characters from the 80s include Ms. Pac-Man, Little Mac, Alex Kidd, Q-Bert, Mega Man, Samus Aran, and many more.

These characters were known for their simple, addictive gameplay and fun graphics. The 80s also saw advancements in technology, leading to the emergence of characters like Solid Snake in the Metal Gear series and Link in The Legend of Zelda. The popularity of these characters extended beyond video games, with many of them appearing in slot games and other forms of entertainment. Overall, the 80s was a golden era for video game characters that continue to captivate audiences today.

Key Takeaways:

  • The 1980s produced some of the most iconic video game characters, including Pac-Man, Super Mario, Donkey Kong, and Link.
  • These characters have remained relevant and continue to spawn new games and spin-offs.
  • The 80s also saw advancements in technology, leading to the emergence of characters like Solid Snake in the Metal Gear series and Link in The Legend of Zelda.
  • Many of these characters have transcended video games and appeared in other forms of entertainment.
  • The 80s was a golden era for video game characters that still captivate audiences today.

Pac-Man – The Legendary Maze Runner

One of the most recognizable video game characters of all time, Pac-Man, took the gaming world by storm in the 1980s. Pac-Man, who was the star of the eponymous game by Toru Iwatani, allowed players to guide him through mazes while dodging ghosts. With its simple yet addictive gameplay, Pac-Man quickly became a cultural phenomenon and remains beloved by gamers worldwide.

The iconic Pac-Man character features a round yellow body with a large mouth, devouring his way through a maze filled with pellets. The goal is to clear each level by eating all the pellets while avoiding the colorful ghosts, Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde. Along the way, players can also grab power pellets, turning the tables on the ghosts and allowing Pac-Man to eat them for extra points.

80s video game characters

Pac-Man’s popularity extended beyond video games, inspiring a wide range of merchandise and even an animated television series. The character’s enduring appeal can be attributed to its simple yet challenging gameplay, catchy music, and iconic design. Pac-Man remains a staple of retro gaming and continues to captivate both nostalgic gamers and a new generation of players with its timeless charm.

Super Mario – The Italian Plumber Extraordinaire

Super Mario, the mustachioed Italian plumber, became an instant gaming sensation in the 80s with his captivating platforming adventures. Mario, who Shigeru Miyamoto created, quickly rose to prominence as Nintendo’s main character and a representative of the era’s classic video game characters.

“It’s-a me, Mario!”

Mario’s debut game, Super Mario Bros., revolutionized the platforming genre with its tight controls, vibrant graphics, and memorable music. Players were drawn into Mario’s quest to rescue Princess Peach from the clutches of the villainous Bowser, navigating through treacherous worlds filled with enemies, secret areas, and power-ups.

Super Mario - The Italian Plumber Extraordinaire

Mario’s simple yet addictive gameplay, combined with his charming personality and catchphrases, made him an instant favorite among gamers. His recognizable red cap, blue overalls, and friendly demeanor have made him an enduring pop culture icon.

Mario’s Legacy

  • Mario has appeared in over 200 games, making him one of the most prolific video game characters of all time.
  • The Super Mario series has sold over 350 million copies worldwide, solidifying Mario’s status as one of the most popular video game characters in history.
  • Mario’s success paved the way for numerous spin-offs, including the Mario Kart racing series, the Mario Party series, and the Mario sports games.
  • Mario’s influence extended beyond video games, with appearances in cartoons, movies, and even a theme park.

In conclusion, Super Mario is an iconic and beloved retro video game character. His timeless adventures continue to captivate gamers of all ages, and he remains a symbol of the 80s gaming era.

Donkey Kong – The Original Primate Hero

Donkey Kong, the original primate hero, swung onto the scene in the 80s, captivating players with his challenging arcade game. This endearing gorilla, which Shigeru Miyamoto created, quickly became well-known and paved the way for the well-liked Super Mario series.

In the game, players took on the role of Mario, then known as Jumpman, as he tried to rescue his girlfriend, Pauline, from Donkey Kong’s clutches. The gameplay involved navigating through levels filled with barrels and obstacles, all while avoiding Donkey Kong’s relentless attacks.

Donkey Kong’s popularity is evident in his lasting presence in the gaming world. He has appeared in numerous spin-offs, crossovers, and even his own series, Donkey Kong Country. With each new game, Donkey Kong continues to captivate players with his charm and challenging gameplay.

Donkey Kong

To fully appreciate Donkey Kong’s impact, let’s take a closer look at the game’s structure. Donkey Kong consists of four levels, each increasing in difficulty. The objective is to climb up ladders, jump over barrels, and reach the top to rescue Pauline.

Level 1Easy and introductory, this level sets the stage for the challenges to come.
Level 2Barrels start rolling faster, and additional hazards, such as fireballs, are introduced.
Level 3Increased difficulty with more obstacles and a greater number of enemies.
Level 4The final showdown was with Donkey Kong himself, requiring precise timing and strategy to defeat.

Donkey Kong’s challenging gameplay and memorable characters have solidified its place as a classic video game. From its inception in the 80s to its continued presence today, Donkey Kong remains an iconic and beloved retro video game character.

Link – The Hero of Hyrule

Step into the mythical land of Hyrule as we explore the heroic adventures of Link, the iconic protagonist of The Legend of Zelda series. Link, dressed in his signature green tunic and wielding his trusty sword, has captivated gamers for decades with his quests to rescue Princess Zelda and save Hyrule from the forces of evil. With his courage, determination, and unwavering commitment to justice, Link has become one of the most beloved retro video game characters of all time.

Link’s journey takes players through vast, immersive worlds filled with challenging puzzles, treacherous dungeons, and memorable characters. From the first installment of The Legend of Zelda in 1986 to the latest releases in the franchise, Link’s adventures have continued to push the boundaries of gaming, offering players the opportunity to explore rich narratives and engage in thrilling gameplay.

But it’s not just Link’s heroism that has made him an iconic figure in the gaming world. The Legend of Zelda series, with Link at its helm, has also been praised for its innovative gameplay mechanics and stunning visuals. Each game in the franchise offers a unique experience, with players traversing diverse landscapes, battling fierce enemies, and uncovering hidden secrets.

Link - The Hero of Hyrule

With his enduring popularity, Link has become synonymous with the retro video game era and has inspired countless other characters and game series. His legacy is one that continues to resonate with gamers of all ages, and his adventures in the Legend of Zelda series remain timeless classics in the world of gaming.

Ms. Pac-Man – The Feminine Force

Join us as we celebrate Ms. Pac-Man, the trailblazing video game character who blazed her own path in the 80s gaming landscape. Created as an unauthorized sequel to the original Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man quickly gained popularity and became a cultural icon in her own right. With her signature red bow and additional gameplay features, Ms. Pac-Man provided a fresh and exciting experience for gamers in the 80s.

Ms. Pac-Man

Ms. Pac-Man brought a new level of excitement to the classic maze-running gameplay, captivating players with her relentless pursuit of those glowing dots. With each level, the difficulty increased, making it a challenging yet addictive game. Players were drawn to the vibrant colors and energetic gameplay, ensuring hours of entertainment.

In addition to her iconic appearance and gameplay, Ms. Pac-Man was also a symbol of empowerment for female gamers. In a male-dominated industry, her presence showcased the strength and resilience of female characters. She broke barriers and inspired a generation of players, proving that anyone can be a hero in the world of gaming.

A Legacy of Retro Gaming

Ms. Pac-Man’s legacy extends far beyond the 80s. She remains one of the most recognizable and beloved video game characters to this day. Her influence can be seen in countless spin-offs, merchandise, and even slot games. Ms. Pac-Man’s impact on popular culture is undeniable, solidifying her place in the pantheon of retro video game characters.

In conclusion, Ms. Pac-Man’s journey in the 80s gaming landscape was a groundbreaking one. She not only opened doors for female representation in video games but also captivated players with her engaging gameplay. Ms. Pac-Man’s timeless appeal continues to inspire and entertain gamers of all ages, making her a true classic among retro video game characters.

Mega Man – The Blue Bomber

Prepare for an 8-bit adventure as we journey with Mega Man, the iconic blue robot, through his action-packed platforming games. Mega Man, also known as Rockman in Japan, first graced our screens in the late 80s, captivating gamers with his unique abilities and thrilling battles against the evil Dr. Wily and his army of Robot Masters.

Mega Man’s gameplay was revolutionary for its time, allowing players to choose the order in which they tackled each level and acquire the weapons of defeated bosses. This added an element of strategy and replayability, making each playthrough a fresh experience. With its challenging yet rewarding gameplay, Mega Man became a staple of the retro video game era.

But it wasn’t just the gameplay that made Mega Man a beloved character. His iconic design, with his blue armor, helmet, and arm cannon, instantly became recognizable to gamers worldwide. The character’s popularity led to numerous sequels and spin-offs, solidifying Mega Man’s place as one of the most nostalgic video game characters of all time.

No.GameRelease Year
1Mega Man1987
2Mega Man 21988
3Mega Man 31990
4Mega Man 41991

Join Mega Man on his quest to save the world from the forces of evil, armed with his trusty Mega Buster and an arsenal of creative weapons. With its unforgettable music, intense gameplay, and nostalgic charm, the Mega Man series continues to be a fan favorite, reminding us of the golden age of video games in the 1980s.

Mega Man - The Blue Bomber

Experience the magic of classic video gaming with Mega Man and relive the excitement and challenges that defined the retro era. Whether you’re a longtime fan or new to the series, Mega Man’s adventures are sure to leave you longing for the simple yet thrilling days of 8-bit gaming.

Other Topics on Video Game Characters


The 80s truly were a remarkable time for video game characters, leaving behind a legacy of nostalgic adventures and unforgettable heroes. From the iconic Pac-Man, who captured the hearts of gamers worldwide with his maze-running escapades, to the heroic plumber Super Mario, who revolutionized the platforming genre, these characters defined the landscape of gaming in the 80s.

Other beloved characters such as Donkey Kong, Link, and Mega Man also emerged during this era, each with their own unique charm and gameplay. They became synonymous with the retro gaming experience, captivating audiences with their simple yet addictive mechanics and endearing designs.

But the influence of 80s video game characters didn’t end with the confines of gaming. These characters transcended their digital worlds, becoming cultural icons that continue to be celebrated today. Their images adorned t-shirts, toys, and various forms of merchandise, solidifying their status as true pop culture legends.

As we look back on the vintage video game characters of the 80s, we are reminded of the era’s innovative spirit and the joy they brought to millions of gamers. The legacy of these old-school heroes lives on in the hearts and minds of those who experienced their adventures firsthand, and they continue to inspire new generations of players even today.