There are moments in gaming history that will live forever as irrefutable benchmarks for our industry; but there are also entire years so jam-packed with releases, events, and societal shifts that one singular entry cannot be raised above the rest. On the computer, arcade, and home gaming fronts, 1981 was such a year. Here's a shotgun blast from the past about what went down before the industry's mid-decade fall, after Pong, and around the same time that Chuck E. Cheese started making crappy pizza a birthday party requirement.
With the American gaming public plunging $5 billion dollars (a quarter or two at a time) into arcade machines, 1981 was the most revenue-heavy year yet for companies like Midway Manufacturing Corporation, Atari, Williams Electronics, and Stern Electronics. This begs the question: Which titles came out in this pivotal year that could inspire the public at large to spend an estimated 75,000 man hours in arcades? Here are some of the most impressive coin-op releases of '81.