I had a close friend who used to be able to beat Dragon’s Lair II repeatedly. We’d go to the arcades now and then and he’d have to play it once just to get an audience behind him cheering him on. Even if it is memorization and timing, for him to make it through time after time without dying was a most impressive feat.
As far as my favorites:
Moon Patrol - I used to play it at the roller rink and could regularly make it to the end of the first world. Very neat and unusual game.
Eagle - Another one I used to be really really good at, and as such, I enjoyed it that much more.
Q-Bert - Very strange, very fun, but not too hard.
Thayer’s Quest - Only played it once, but it lingered in my head forever after. It was a laser disc game like Dragon’s Lair, but you controlled your character via a keyboard, trying to find items in the world that matched images on some of the letters on said keyboard. What stood out was at the beginning of the game, you typed in your name and it would speak it to you during play. In addition, you could ‘save’ your position and return later to continue where you left off.
Street Fighter II - A revolutionary game for its time. There were few fighters out before it, and none that had the speed and fight options that this one did. It sucked up a lot of my money for its time.
Gauntlet - As mentioned before, warrior just shot the food. My brother had gotten to the point that he could play endlessly on one quarter as long as nobody else joined in the game. I think he went 7 or 8 hours once, letting me control when he needed a bathroom break. His health was far far higher than what it started at when they shut the gameroom down for the night. When others joined in, they would quickly die on the levels where shots hurt other players (the world’s first griefer).
Championship Sprint - The computer opponents got very hard very quickly, but you could race against two friends and upgrage your car after each couple of races. The sequel, Colin McCrae’s Truck Racing (or something like that), allowed you to save your initials and birthday so that it would remember you.
Tempest - Hated it as a kid, but absolutely hooked on it as a grown up.
Stun Runner - Jaw dropping graphics for its time. High speed racing through tunnels where you could (and sometimes should) drive upside down. Atari had made some GREAT games (Peter Packrat, Indiana Jones, Toobin, Paperboy, 720, Road Runner, etc.) but this was one of my favorites.
Cyberball - Because regular football was for wimps. You could play 2 or 4 player (depending on the cabinet) and simplified football to a great man on man (or bot on bot) game. Seeing your opponent stuck with the ball when it blew up made it worthwhile.
Assault - Similar to Battlezone where you used two joysticks to control your tank, but with many more options for gameplay. You could ‘rear back’ your tank to launch a long distance bomb, or roll over on it’s belly for better handling. Great graphics, great fun.
Crossbow - Exidy made some great ‘shooter’ games, the most disturbing of which was Chiller, but Crossbow still has my heart as my favorite, with Cheyenne a close 2nd. Protect your adventurers of various speeds as they cross the screen.
Crystal Castles - Bentley Bear made the Pac Man genre right.
Tron - Second best videogame based off a movie ever (Discs of Tron was also REALLY well done, just harder to find to enjoy). Great music, good variety, and really separated the good player from the bad quickly.