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The Best Atari 2600 Games of All Time

Artistic depiction of Space Invaders from Atari 2600

Yeah, the old ones! Today, we’re talking about the best Atari 2600 games of all time.

The Atari 2600, also known as the Atari Computer System or Atari VCS, was first introduced in North America in 1977 and holds a special place in the hearts of many gamers as the console that kick-started the home gaming revolution.

With its iconic joystick and simple graphics, the Atari 2600 delivered countless hours of fun and nostalgia. In this article, we’ll explore the 10 Best Atari Games that defined the early days of gaming.

10. Pitfall II: Lost Caverns

Pitfall II: Lost Caverns is the sequel to the original Pitfall! game and features an expanded adventure. Players guide Pitfall Harry through a sprawling underground maze filled with hazards, treasures, and hidden passages.

The objective is to rescue Pitfall Harry’s niece and find the Raj Diamond. Pitfall II: Lost Caverns’ larger world, improved graphics, and atmospheric soundtrack set it apart as a standout title and one of the best Atari 2600 games released.

9. Kaboom!

Kaboom! is a fast-paced action game where players catch bombs dropped by the Mad Bomber and prevent them from exploding. Players control a bucket at the bottom of the screen to catch the bombs.

The objective is to catch as many bombs as possible while avoiding misses. Kaboom!’s frantic gameplay, increasing difficulty, and high-score pursuit made it a memorable Atari title.

8. Breakout

Breakout is a paddle-and-ball game where players control a paddle to bounce a ball and break a wall of bricks.

The objective is to clear all the bricks while preventing the ball from falling below the paddle. Breakout’s addictive gameplay, challenging levels, and competitive multiplayer mode made it a classic Atari experience.

7. Centipede

Centipede is an arcade shooter that pits players against a relentless centipede and various other insects. Players must shoot and destroy the centipede while avoiding its movements and the other creatures on the screen.

The objective is to survive and achieve a high score. Centipede’s addictive gameplay, colorful visuals, and intuitive controls made it a fan favorite on the Atari 2600. It’s hard to imagine a best Atari games list not featuring this classic arcade gem.

6. River Raid

River Raid is a vertical-scrolling shooter where players pilot a fighter jet along a river, destroying enemy vehicles and structures while avoiding collisions.

The objective is to survive and score as many points as possible. River Raid’s fast-paced action, challenging level design, and addictive gameplay made it a standout title in the Atari library.

5. Adventure

Adventure is an early action-adventure game that features exploration and puzzle-solving elements. Players control a square-shaped hero who must navigate a maze-like world to find the Enchanted Chalice while avoiding various enemies.

The objective is to retrieve the Chalice and return it to the Golden Castle. Adventure’s innovative gameplay, hidden surprises, and open-world design made it a groundbreaking title for the Atari 2600.

4. Missile Command

Now we’re really getting into the difficult choices while ranking the best Atari games. Missile Command is a strategy game that puts players in charge of defending cities from a barrage of enemy missiles. Players use their cursor to aim and launch counter-missiles to intercept incoming threats.

The objective is to protect the cities for as long as possible. Missile Command’s intense gameplay, strategic decision-making, and challenging difficulty kept players on the edge of their seats.

3. Asteroids

Asteroids is a space-themed shooter that tasks players with destroying incoming asteroids and enemy UFOs. Players control a spaceship and must dodge the debris while blasting the asteroids into smaller pieces.

The objective is to survive and score as many points as possible. Asteroids’ addictive “easy to learn, hard to master” gameplay and high-score chasing made it a standout title on the Atari 2600.

2. Pitfall!

Pitfall! is an action-adventure game that follows the adventures of Harry, a fearless explorer. Players navigate a treacherous jungle filled with pitfalls, quicksand, and dangerous creatures.

The objective is to collect treasures within a time limit while avoiding hazards. Pitfall! captivated players with its non-linear gameplay, challenging obstacles, and rewarding exploration.

1. Space Invaders

Space Invaders is a classic arcade game that found immense success on the Atari 2600. Players control a laser cannon at the bottom of the screen and must shoot down descending waves of alien invaders.

The objective is to score as many points as possible before the aliens reach the bottom. Space Invaders’ addictive gameplay, iconic enemy designs, and competitive high-score challenges made it a staple of the Atari library.


The Atari 2600 brought gaming into the living rooms of millions and left an enduring legacy. The 10 Best Atari Games highlighted in this article represent the innovative spirit and timeless fun that defined the early days of console gaming.

From classic shooters like Space Invaders and Asteroids to adventure titles like Pitfall! and Adventure, these games captivated players with their simple yet addictive gameplay, paving the way for the future of gaming.

Overall, the Atari 2600 may have given rise to more advanced consoles, but its library of games remains a cherished piece of gaming history.

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