Top Picks: The 10 Best Arcade Games for Kids

In the ever-evolving world of digital entertainment, some classics never fade away. And for kids, the allure of the arcade experience is just as enchanting as it was for the generations before them. But if you’re worried about exposing your little ones to the wrong kind of games at a young age, we’re here to help. In this article, we’re detailing the top 10 best arcade games for kids, so you can host family game sessions that everyone can enjoy! 

The Top 10 Kid-Friendly Arcade Games You Should Play with Your Little Ones

Choosing the best arcades and machines to play with your kids is crucial. With the rise of many adult-themed games and highly complex simulations, your little ones can end up being exposed to things they’re not yet prepared for. Fortunately, there are plenty of fun and age-appropriate titles you can choose from.

Here’s our list of the top 10 kid-friendly arcade games, divided into two categories:

– The best video arcade games

– Other skill-based arcade games

Video Arcade Games Selection

When it comes to arcade games, nothing beats the classic video game selection. From the very first machines to the more modern games, these are some of the most iconic and beloved classic games you don’t have to worry about your children playing:

1. Donkey Kong: A Classic Obstacle Challenge

1981, Nintendo

Donkey Kong is an arcade classic that has remained popular among kids of all ages for years. The goal is to rescue Pauline, the damsel in distress, from Donkey Kong’s clutches. Players must manoeuvre Mario over a series of barrels and obstacles to reach her.

Why Is This a Kid’s Favorite?

Short Gameplay Sessions Featuring a Heroic Quest: The game’s short levels and game play sessions are well-suited for kids with limited attention spans or those looking for quick bursts of entertainment.

But despite its short gameplay, its story features an overarching quest that begins with a hero they can root for. Kids can relate to the hero, Jumpman (later known as Mario), and learn a thing or two about doing the right thing during play time.

2. Out Run: The Ultimate Retro Racing Game

1986, Sega

Out Run is one of the best classic racing games that has become a timeless favourite among kids of all ages. Players take control of a Ferrari Testarossa and challenge their friends to race around the world, navigating through cities, mountain passes, and beaches with the goal of getting to the finish line first.

Why Is This a Kid’s Favorite?

Fast-Paced Racing without Compromising on Gameplay: Out Run is an arcade racing game known for its high-speed gameplay. The thrill of driving a fast and flashy car along scenic routes could captivate kids who enjoy action-packed experiences. More importantly, kids can focus on the thrill of the racing game without getting bogged down by complex gameplay mechanics.

3. Frogger: A Time-Limited Crossing

1981, Konami

Frogger is a classic arcade game for kids that has been popular for over many decades. The goal of the game is to help frogs cross a busy highway and a river full of hazards to reach the safety of their homes. Players must time each move carefully as they play and guide the frogs across lanes of traffic, logs, turtles, and other obstacles to reach the other side.

Why Is This a Kid’s Favorite?

Simple Controls that Improve Hand-Eye Coordination: The game’s intuitive controls—moving the frog up, down, left, and right—make it accessible for kids of various ages without the need for complex button combinations. All the while, the game helps improve hand-eye coordination as kids need to time their movements precisely to navigate safely through traffic and water.

4. Pac-Man: A Maze-Based Adventure

1980, Namco (now Bandai Namco Entertainment)

This classic arcade game is a classic staple. Players guide Pac-Man through a maze, collecting dots and avoiding ghosts while eating power pellets to temporarily gain the upper hand.

Why Is This a Kid’s Favorite?

Simple Gameplay with Lovable Characters: Pac-Man features straightforward gameplay mechanics that are easy for kids to understand. The objective of eating pellets and avoiding ghosts is simple and engaging.

At the same time, the colourful and cute character designs, including Pac-Man himself, the ghosts, and the fruit, are appealing to children and create a friendly atmosphere.

5. Tetris: The Popular Tetrominoes Puzzle

1984, The original concept was created by Alexey Pajitnov in the Soviet Union

Tetris is one of the most iconic and beloved classic arcade games of all time. This puzzle game challenges players to fit different blocks — or tetrominoes — together to clear lines from the screen. It’s up to the player to move and rotate the pieces carefully so that they fit perfectly together.

Why Is This a Kid’s Favorite?

Puzzle Solving: Tetris requires players to think critically and strategically to fit falling blocks into the right spaces. This element of puzzle-solving in games can be both enjoyable and mentally stimulating for kids. The lack of complex themes in its approach to puzzle solving makes it easy for parents to teach their youngsters the mechanics of this family-friendly game.

Not only that, Tetris offers a lot more cognitive benefits that can greatly impact the mental and cognitive development of kids. We got into details regarding this on a separate article about the cognitive benefits of arcade machines, so do check it out!

Other Skill-Based Arcade Games Selection

In addition to video games, there are plenty of other classic arcade games that your kids will love playing. Here are some of our favorites:

6. Basketball Arcade: A Miniature Sport Reimagining

1981, Unknown

Basketball arcade machines provide hours of fun and challenging entertainment as players try to make baskets by shooting hoops with a miniature play basketball. This miniaturized version of a basketball game comes with a scoreboard for every shot that the player successfully accomplishes.

Why Is This a Kid’s Favorite?

Familiar Sport Mechanics: Basketball is a popular and well-known sport, making the arcade machine a top arcade choice for kids who enjoy basketball games or have an interest in sports. Not only does it cultivate their love for ball-centric games, but it also helps prepare them for when they hit the real courts if they wish to pursue this sport in the future.

7. Air Hockey: A Game of Pucks on Rinks

1969; Phil Crossman, Bob Kenrick, and Brad Baldwin

Air hockey is a classic arcade game that has been popular with kids for generations. This fast-paced game is played on specialized tables covered in air holes where players take turns sliding pucks around the rink, trying to score goals by shooting their pucks into the opponent’s goal.

Why Is This a Kid’s Favorite?

Immediate Feedback While Improving Physical Reflexes: Air hockey provides instant feedback, as players can see the result of their actions immediately after hitting the puck. This immediate game feedback loop adds to the play experience and enjoyment and encourages improvement.

Moreover, playing air hockey helps improve fine motor skills and reflexes, as kids need to react swiftly and make precise movements to control the paddle and puck.

8. Skee-Ball: The Supreme Roll in a Hole

1909, Skee-Ball Inc.

Skee-ball is a classic alley game that has been around since the early 1900s. Players roll balls up an alley, aiming for different holes at the end of the lane to earn points. This game requires skill, precision, and a lot of luck as players try to get the highest score.

Why Is This a Kid’s Favorite?

Friendly Competition and Social Interaction: The Skee-Ball game is often played in a social and competitive environment, allowing kids to challenge friends, family members, or even compete against themselves to achieve higher scores within the game. This leads to more social interaction and a deeper bonding experience with family members and loved ones.

9. Claw Machines: The Prize Pick-Up Station

Late 19th century (used as a mechanical device), Unknown

Claw machines are classic arcade games that offer a unique challenge and the chance to win fun prizes. Players control a mechanical claw to pick up small prizes, from stuffed animals to candy and toys. The claw can move up, down, left, and right as players attempt to grab the prize of their choice.

Why Is This a Kid’s Favorite?

Element of Surprise: The instant gratification of a prize after playing with this machine can be a rewarding experience for kids. However, before the prize, kids remain suspended in mystery. The anticipation and excitement of not knowing what prize the claw will grab creates a sense of surprise and thrill that kids find captivating during play.

10. Dance Dance Revolution: For the Rhythm and Music Lovers

1998, Konami

Dance Dance Revolution is one of the perfect kids arcade games. This game combines classic dance moves with popular music tracks to create an exciting and challenging experience. Players must step on the correct arrows that appear on the screen in time with the beat of the music, earning game points as they go. Ultimately, it fosters a love music and rhythm within children at a young age.

Why Is This a Kid’s Favorite?

Coordination and Timing: Using one’s physical skills is the key purpose of games like Dance Dance Revolution. Playing DDR improves coordination and timing skills as kids need to synchronise their movements with the on-screen arrows and the rhythm of the music. At the same time, kids discover their love for music through play.

Parental Guidance during Play

With all this being said, it’s important to note that the parent’s role in their kid’s play experience is vital. As with any form of entertainment, parents should monitor their youth while they are playing arcade games for kids. To provide a safe and healthy gaming experience for children, parents must keep an eye on the amount of time spent playing and ensure that their kids are not exposed to any inappropriate content. This applies to both arcade-style games and any form of play and learning platform, including learning apps.

As a Final Point

Arcade games are a great way for kids to exercise their problem-solving skills and have fun at the same time. Whether you’re looking for classic video games like OutRun or Frogger, or more skill-based games like air hockey and basketball arcade, there’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy. Most importantly, the best arcade games aid in the skill development of kids, so your little ones expand their creativity while having fun.

Ultimately, these top arcade games for kids are sure to bring hours of fun and entertainment to your home! Do you have more recommendations for some of the best arcade games for kids?

Have you already purchased an arcade machine or game tables for your kid? Please ensure you read this article on the best maintenance tips for arcade machines, so you keep them operational for the years to come.

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